Verizon’s Premium Network Access Explained

Several of Verizon’s plans come with a feature Verizon calls “premium network access.”

Verizon plan features listing showing premium network access

This feature comes with several of Verizon’s plans, including all three of Verizon’s premium, unlimited plans:

  • Play More Unlimited
  • Do More Unlimited
  • Get More Unlimited

High-priority data

Plans with premium network access include 50GB per month of what Verizon calls “premium data.” While subscribers have premium data available, they are eligible for high-priority access to the network during periods of congestion. When networks get busy, data speeds tend to slow down for users on the network. Subscribers with premium data won’t experience as severe of congestion-related speed decreases as other users on the network.

Do I need high-priority data?

Network congestion is generally rare, but congestion is much more common is some areas than others. While some people will see large improvements in their speeds with the help of high-priority data, other people may not even notice a perceptible difference in their experience. In particular, high-priority data is unlikely to meaningfully improve user experiences for subscribers that only use modest amounts of data.

In the weeds

On LTE networks, priority levels are determined using a factor called a QCI value. On some of Verizon’s cheaper plans (e.g., the Start Unlimited plan and Verizon’s prepaid plans), subscribers always have a QCI of 9 for regular data use. Tests I’ve run have found that Verizon’s premium, unlimited plans have a QCI of 8 for regular data use while subscribers have premium data available. When premium data runs out, the QCI value for regular data use on these plans switches to 9.

Higher-quality video

Subscribers on plans with the premium network access feature are can stream video in up to 720p quality (sometimes called “HD quality”). Many other Verizon subscribers will have video traffic throttled to 480p (sometimes called “standard definition quality”). Note that subscribers with premium network access who want 720p quality will need to change a setting in their account to enable higher-quality streaming.