You might recall that because of the global pandemic that has hit the U.S. worse than any other country, the four major U.S. carriers (now reduced to three) signed the Keep America Connected Pledge. The wireless providers promised not to close residential and small business accounts for not paying their bills, waived late fees, and allowed their Wi-Fi hotspots to be used by anyone who needed them. The pledge runs to May 13th, but it already seems that some carriers think that it is over.
Back in March, Verizon announced that it was giving away 15GB of 4G LTE data from March 25 through April 30. Consumer and small business customers with unlimited plans have a bit more than a week to use what’s left of their extra data for mobile hotspot/tethering usage. Verizon prepaid consumer and small business accounts have until the end of the month to use the free 15GB of 4G data that was added to their data cap; the data can be used for a smartphone, hotspot, or any other device connected to Big Red’s 4G LTE network.
Verizon says data use on its networks has stabilized after surging for a few weeks
Today, Verizon announced that it will give its residential and small business customers another 15GB of 4G LTE data that they can use from May 1st through May 31st. The carrier’s press release states, “Verizon continues to support customers who may find themselves needing additional data in order to learn, work or keep connected during this challenging time. That’s why today, we announced we are automatically adding an additional 15GB of 4G LTE data to consumer and small business shared data plans, hotspots, and jetpacks to be used from May 1 through May 31. There is no action needed as this data will automatically be added to consumer and small business accounts.”
Data use on Verizon’s networks has slowed down after surging for weeks
We know of at least one Verizon subscriber quarantined near Cape Cod who ran through his 15GB of 4G LTE data in a little over a day playing mobile video games on a laptop while tethering. Starting on May 1st, he will have another 15GB to work with. And while he does have an unlimited plan and can still tether, the slower 600Kbps data speed makes playing this game impossible. Since we don’t expect Verizon to offer another 15GB of 4G LTE data for June (although we could be surprised), hopefully this young man will make his free high-speed data last a little longer this month.
In addition, Verizon said today that network use from subscribers is stabilizing after a period of heavy usage. Data traffic is up 19% compared to those golden days before COVID-19 touched down and created havoc in the states. As the accompanying charts show, usage of Big Red’s network for downloads, games, and social media declined on a week-to-week basis while video use was flat. But compared to pre-COVID-19 days, network use is still much higher. It should be no surprise that the use of Verizon’s network for games has risen 71%, while subscribers are using 56% more data for downloads and 26% for video streaming. Interestingly enough, the number of mobile handoffs (when a data session moves from one cell to another as a user drives around or walks from place to place) has declined by 27% since pre-COVID-19 days. Based on this data, Americans have sharply reduced their movements since March 1st.
Kyle Malady, Chief Technology Officer for Verizon states, “We believe all trends point to sustained network usage at this higher level for the foreseeable future. As customers’ traffic and usage patterns have changed, we have continued to deliver the level of service our customers have come to expect. More importantly, we’ve stepped up our efforts to help people return to business as unusual as best they can.”
Verizon expects network usage to remain at current high levels even as cities and states start removing restrictions.
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