Verizon’s Data Prioritization and Deprioritization

Last updated: 2/7/2020

Prioritization affects how traffic is handled when networks are congested. I have not found Verizon to be especially straightforward about its prioritization policies, so this page details my best guesses about Verizon’s procedures—I’m not confident I’m entirely correct.

Verizon’s prioritization appears to be binary

In October 2018, Reddit user Quicr (identified as a Verizon engineer) argued the distinction between Verizon’s prioritized and deprioritized traffic for standard customers is black and white with no possibility for partially deprioritized traffic. Quicr references QoS class identifiers (QCI) defined in the 3GPP standards. Quicr argues that regular data traffic is prioritized in a binary way since it will either have QCI value of 8 or 9:[1]

Regular data (i.e. tiered plans, unlimited plans before the threshold) is QCI 8. All deprioritized data (go, other unlimited beyond the threshold, MVNO, Visible) is all QCI 9. There isn’t any distinction between the various plans other than QCI 8 and QCI 9. All QCI 8 traffic is the same and all QCI 9 traffic is the same to the network.

As of early 2020, I have some reservations about the accuracy of Quicr’s view. I’m hoping to soon conduct some tests of my own to learn more.

Prioritized traffic on Verizon’s network

I think Verizon prioritizes data traffic from the plans and subscriber categories listed below:

  • Postpaid, non-unlimited plans[2]
  • Play More Unlimited plan subscribers who’ve used less than 25GBs of data[3]
  • Do More Unlimited plan subscribers who’ve used less than 50GBs of data[4]
  • Get More Unlimited plan subscribers who’ve used less than 75GBs of data[5]

Legacy plans

  • BeyondUnlimited plan subscribers who’ve used less than 22GBs of data [6]
  • AboveUnlimited plan subscribers who’ve used less than 75GBs of data[7]

Deprioritized traffic on Verizon’s network

I don’t think Verizon prioritizes data traffic from the plans and subscriber categories listed below:

  • Start Unlimited plan subscribers[8]
  • Verizon’s prepaid subscribers[9]
  • Visible subscribers[10]
  • Xfinity Mobile subscribers[11]
  • Most other Verizon-based MVNOs[12]
  • JustKids plan[13]
  • Subscribers on certain unlimited plans after they’ve surpassed their “premium data” thresholds[14]

Legacy plans

  • GoUnlimited plan subscribers[15]

Footnotes

  1. From an October 2018 thread in the Verizon subreddit. Archived here.
  2. See the quote in the main text from the Reddit user Quicr.
  3. “Start Unlimited users may temporarily experience slower data in times of congestion; Play More Unlimited users may experience it after 25 GB/line.”
    The excerpt comes from Verizon’s website as of 2/7/2020.
  4. “Start Unlimited users may temporarily experience slower data in times of congestion; Play More Unlimited users may experience it after 25 GB/line; Do More Unlimited users, after 50 GB/line.”
    The excerpt comes from Verizon’s website as of 2/7/2020.
  5. “Start Unlimited users may temporarily experience slower data in times of congestion; Play More Unlimited users may experience it after 25 GB/line; Do More Unlimited users, after 50 GB/line; Get More Unlimited users, after 75 GB/line.”
    The excerpt comes from Verizon’s website as of 2/7/2020.
  6. “After 22 GB/line, in times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic.”
    The excerpt above was attached to the description of Verizon’s BeyondUnlimited plan on Verizon’s website (archived here) as of 6/14/2019. The plan is no longer available to new subscribers.
  7. “After 75 GB/line, in times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic.”
    The excerpt above was attached to the description of Verizon’s AboveUnlimited plan on Verizon’s website (archived here) as of 6/14/2019. The plan is no longer available to new subscribers.
  8. “Start Unlimited users may temporarily experience slower data in times of congestion.”
    The excerpt comes from Verizon’s website as of 2/7/2020.
  9. Excerpt from Verizon’s prepaid page as of 2/7/2020:
    “In times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic.”

    Additionally, the Reddit user Quicr clarified in a comment that traffic from Verizon’s prepaid subscribers is deprioritized:
    “All prepaid, both tiered and unlimited, is deprioritized. It’s only on postpaid where there’s a difference.”
    From an October 2018 thread in the Verizon subreddit. Archived here.

  10. From Visible’s Legal Disclosures page as of 2/7/2020 (archived here):
    “We may prioritize your data behind other traffic if the cell site you are connected to begins experiencing high demand during the duration of your session. Once the demand on the site lessens, or if you connect to a different site not experiencing high demand, your speed will return to normal.”

    Also see the excerpt from Quicr in the main text of the web page.

  11. From Xfinity Mobile’s website as of 2/7/2020:
    “In times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic.”
    I believe purchasing Xfinity Mobile’s HD Pass add-on will allow subscribers to receive higher priority.
  12. See the excerpt from Quicr in the main text of the article.
  13. “In times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic.”
    The excerpt above was attached to the description of Verizon’s JustKids plan on Verizon’s website (archived here) as of 6/14/2019.
  14. E.g., subscribers on the Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, or Get More Unlimited plans who’ve used a lot of data.
  15. “In times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic.”
    The excerpt above was attached to the description of Verizon’s GoUnlimited plan on Verizon’s website (archived here) as of 6/14/2019. The plan is no longer available to new subscribers.