Shame on Verizon Wireless for throttling the wireless data speed of the smartphones used by West Coast forest firefighters. I couldn’t believe it when I heard the stories. Imagine, firefighters risking their lives to save the lives and property of others, hindered when they ran out of high-speed wireless data services. Why did it take this PR nightmare for Verizon to finally do the right thing?

I know the feeling. I test and compare smartphones and services from a wide variety of carriers, and last week my wireless data plan on one of them was used up before the month ended. When that happened, my smartphone value stopped. It became a brick. Oh sure, it made phone calls, but the fast wireless data connection which let me use other data services came to a screeching halt. It was flying at 60 miles per hour then hit a brick wall.

Every company calls their wireless data plans unlimited. And they are technically correct. They didn’t shut me off. They just slowed me way down to a crawl. Theoretically, I was able to use the service. However, the speed was so slow it was impossible to use and get any value.

Some carriers are much better, and others are much worse at this wireless data limit. Some carriers don’t throttle their speeds down much. Instead they prioritize your data differently when you run over your limit. That’s why you want to make sure your plan has enough wireless data to cover everyone on the plan for an entire month, and then some just to make sure. And if you run out, you aren’t slowed to an agonizing crawl.

AT&T Mobility and Cricket Wireless don’t have wireless data slow-downs

I found that AT&T Mobility and Cricket Wireless are two that offer a generous amount of wireless data. And if you ever get to the point where you run into their top limit, they don’t automatically slow your smartphone.

Instead, they say your web usage may be affected if you are in a very crowded area like a concert. If there are many others using wireless data at the same time, some will go first, and others will go second, but it will all go.

If you don’t reach the limit, your usage is not affected at all. So, having a high limit is one important key.

Want the smartphone and other wireless devices to grow? Never block the user

As carriers and smartphone makers want us to use our smartphones more and more, we can’t be faced with any kind of limit. If we are, we will continue to use these devices and services less than carriers really want us to. That’s human nature.

Message to all the wireless carriers. The best solution is to give the customer a choice. If carriers must have a limit at all, then they should give the customer a choice to buy another block of usage. Giving the customer the choice seems fair.

If they need high speed wireless data, they will be willing to pay for the other block. If they don’t need it, they may not buy the extra block.

Understand how much wireless data you have and what happens when you run out

It’s also important to ask the question when buying wireless phone service. How much high speed wireless data do you get? You will find it ranges from a few gigs on a budget plan, to ten to twenty-two on an unlimited plan.

Also ask what happens if you meet your limit? Does your usage slow to a crawl and become unusable, or is it still usable? That’s important to understand. Every wireless provider is different.

Better yet, you may say that carriers should take the limits off all these plans. However, that has a cost as well. We have a shortage of wireless data spectrum and if there are no limits, users will all be using wireless data services more than ever.

Why carriers can’t take wireless data limits away

So, what’s wrong with that? Well, that will mean data jams in a growing number of areas all over the country. So, perhaps we still need these data limits to keep us from over using wireless data.

However, even when a customer reaches a limit, they should be given the option to buy another block of usage.

However, with that said, as an industry we should never, never, never take away the value of the smartphone to the customer. We should always give the customer a chance to buy another block of data. Wireless carriers should never let the smartphone become a useless brick in the pocket of users.

That’s a sure way to lose the customer. If the wireless industry wants to continue to grow going forward with smartphones, tablets, wireless TV and more, don’t screw with the customer. Just saying.

The post Kagan: Why Verizon throttled wireless data speed of firefighters appeared first on RCR Wireless News.