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Carrier Data Throttling: Which Carriers Do It & How To Get Around It…

Do all carriers throttle data speeds? The answer to this question, sadly, is yes. But there are ways around it – here’s everything you need to know… 


Key Takeaways

  • All carriers, large and small, throttle data to ensure the smooth operation of their respective networks.
  • Data Deprioritization is NOT the same as data throttling; deprioritization happens when the network is super congested, while throttling caps your data speeds at a much lower speed once you’ve used all your allotted data.
  • In the USA, what you get instead of truly unlimited data is higher amounts of monthly data before data throttling kicks in.
  • To avoid issues with data throttling and deprioritization, go with a premium plan, like 5G Get More from Verizon which includes unlimited data (no throttling up to 100GB p/m) and unlimited premium network access (so, no deprioritization).
  • To get the fastest 5G and 4G data speeds, as well as access to 5G UC, you need a modern phone.

You know the saying, there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Well, we need a new one for carriers which goes something like this: there’s no such thing as truly unlimited data

All carriers, large and small, throttle data.

They do this to ensure the smooth operation of their respective networks. The thing you need to concern yourself with is when this throttling actually kicks in

And to make matters worse, it’s not just throttling you need to worry about. There’s another way carriers are slowing your data speeds down, and it is called “deprioritization” – so let’s first define these two things before we go any further… 

Data Deprioritization vs Data Throttling

  • What is Data Deprioritization? Data deprioritization is NOT the same as data throttling. With deprioritization, this only happens when the network is super congested, like if you’re attending a concert or a football game. When deprioritization happens, your data speeds are slowed down to free up bandwidth for other users on the network. 
  • What is Data Throttling? With data throttling, this is when your data speeds are capped at a much lower speed. All carriers use throttling to varying degrees, so it is more a case of when throttling kicks in rather than if it will. Throttling only usually kicks in once you’ve used all your allotted data, so if you have 20GB of data per month, your data will only be throttled once you go over 20GB. 

Are Unlimited Data Plans Throttled? 

Carrier Data ThrottlingPin

I know, I know – you paid for unlimited data, so why are you dealing with throttling. The reason, as noted in the introduction, is that – in the USA – there is no such thing as unlimited data. 

What you get, instead of truly unlimited data, is higher amounts of monthly data, amounts 99.9% of users will never get through, like 50GB or 100GB, before data throttling kicks in. 

If you’re not on an unlimited data plan or your plan is with an MVNO network like Mint Mobile or VISIBLE, you can use a VPN to block any network throttling.

I currently use this VPN service; it’s cheap and reliable and it does a host of additional things too – unlocking Netflix, hiding my IP from my ISP, and unlocking sites blocked in my country (like popular torrenting platforms).

Alternatively, if you don’t want to pay for a VPN, you could use Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 app which is a kind of pseudo-VPN that speeds up your data connection by re-routing your connection through Cloudflare’s servers.

Both of these options will help you get around and avoid data throttling. They might not work 100% of the time but they’ll get the job done most of the time.

Cellphone Plan With No Throttling and/or Deprioritization

If you’re concerned about data throttling and data deprioritization, the best thing to do is go with a premium plan.

5G Get More from Verizon includes unlimited data (no throttling up to 100GB p/m) and unlimited premium network access (so, no deprioritization). 

Verizon 5G Get More Plan
From $90 p/m

Verizon’s 5G Get More plan is essentially its flagship unlimited plan. You get unlimited premium network access, 50GB of mobile hotspot data, one travel pass per day per month, 600GB of Verizon Cloud Storage, and 50% discounts for Verizon Home Internet services. 


Pros:
  • Unlimited 5G Ultra Wideband Data
  • Unlimited Premiumn Network Access
  • 50GB Mobile Hotspot Data
  • 600GB Verizon Cloud Storage
  • Free HULU, Disney, ESPN
  • Free Apple Music / Arcade
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Of course, even with a plan like this – or a similar unlimited plans from AT&T or T-Mobile – you’re still going to run into issues with data speeds. 

But these issues will most likely be born from network congestion and/or poor reception. As advanced as modern carrier networks are, they’re still subject to the occasional blip or overload

Another issue that can (and does) cause issues with data speeds and connection to mobile data networks is your phone’s modem. If you’re running an older phone, its modem will not be designed for newer data delivery methods and this will affect its performance capabilities. 

For this reason, if you want the absolute fastest 5G and 4G data speeds, as well as the ability to access things 5G UC, you’re going to need a modern phone – something like the iPhone 14 or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. 

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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