Verizon: 4 GB of data is minimum for LTE video streaming

Smartphone users should expect to buy a minimum data bucket of 4 GB if they use LTE video streaming, according to a Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) blog post that was published the day before the operator's new shared data plans kicked in.

"Watching video on your smartphone or tablet is where data consumption grows," wrote Brian Malina, Verizon Wireless' national manager for digital and social media.

"If 4G LTE video streaming is a regular part of your smartphone use, you will need more data, likely 4 GB, maybe more," he said.

A 4 GB data bucket for a smartphone on a Share Everything plan as recommended by Malina would cost a user $110 each month, with $40 being the subscription fee for the smartphone and $70 getting added for the 4 GB data allowance.

According to Malina, with a 4 GB monthly data package, a wireless user can watch 300 minutes of video--the equivalent of 10 half-hour sitcoms-- surf 50 Web pages daily, upload 10 pictures, stream 15 minutes of music and send 50 emails every day. The total data used for all of those activities would be 3.61 GB, he said.

"Watch 30 minutes of 4G LTE video or more a day? Add that video use to the email and Web surfing scenario described above and you use about 7 GB a month," Malina added.

The blog entry was apparently an effort to educate customers about data usage in an effort to curtail bill shock as Verizon implemented its shared-data plans on June 28. Verizon's new Share Everything plans are now available for new customers and existing customers who want to switch to them.

All of the plans include unlimited voice minutes, unlimited text, video and picture messaging and tiered data buckets that offer a single data allowance for up to 10 Verizon devices. A smartphone customer on the lowest-priced Share Everything plan now pays $90 for unlimited voice, text and 1 GB of data, which is $20 more than Verizon's previous entry-level smartphone plan, which cost $70 for 450 minutes of talk time, no texts and 2 GB of data.

Malina's blog post also promoted Verizon's Data Usage Calculator, which customers are encouraged to use as they estimate the data allotment they need to purchase for their monthly wireless activities. "Knowing how much data you consume takes a little research and some time thinking about how you use your smartphone or tablet. In the long run, a few minutes studying your data use will save you money and help you find a data plan that works best for you and your family," he wrote.

More than 90 percent of Verizon's smartphone or tablet customers use less than 2 GB each month, according to Malina.

While many consumers and mobile industry experts have applauded Verizon's Share Everything plans, the company has been hit with a barrage of complaints from critics who contend the new plans are unreasonable for low-volume data users on individual subscription plans. Verizon has acknowledged that families and small businesses with multiple devices have the most to gain from the Share Everything packages.

Some industry observers have speculated that the Share Everything plans are Verizon's attempt to steal the thunder from no-cost and low-cost third-party VoIP and text messaging services. Verizon's shared data plans anticipate "the possibility of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) extending its iMessage free (texting) plan to voice over IP as well as the improved VoIP capabilities of LTE for other OTT (over-the-top Internet) players," wrote Citigroup analyst Simon Weedon in a report quoted by Investor's Business Daily.

For more:
- see this Verizon blog
- see this Investor's Business Daily article

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