Operators cracking down on heavy data users

It's the continued saga about whether unlimited wireless high-speed data plans are really unlimited. Or at least it's a saga here since we've been writing about it for many months. We now hear that Verizon Wireless has sent out service-cancellation notices to customers who are using excess network capacity, and Sprint and Cingular have moved to charge customers for the amount of data they are consuming each month. Verizon says it has sent letters out to fewer than 100 customers who are blatantly abusing their connections. Most of the plans are maxed out at 1GB per month. All of the major operators prohibit services such as VoIP and Web-camera feeds that take up lot of network capacity. Verizon is even going so far as to develop technology that senses what applications customers are using so that violations can be detected more accurately.

Can you say customer alienation? Can you say privacy violations? The incredible part is that operators are marketing the service with the expectation that wireless Internet services are no different than their wired broadband connections. "It is sold that way, and it should be treated the same way," says Phil Redman, research vice president with Gartner Group, which advises some big corporations on their wireless purchases. "The carriers need to figure out how to address these restrictions without alienating users." But what's a carrier to do when they only have so much network capacity and the market is conditioned to unlimited pricing plans?

To read more about wireless "unlimited" data plans:
- take a look at this article from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)