by Olivia Infante, Associate Editor
For years, businesses have been using 4G LTE data plans when 1) no feasible terrestrial providers were available, 2) the throughput requirement is small, and 3) as a backup to a terrestrial internet provider. When we say 'terrestrial', think coax, dedicated fiber, and best-effort-fiber.
While 4G LTE delivers a very high quality, high availability service (typical delay times are less than 20 ms), there is one major reason why most business internet users opt out of 4G: throughput. The wireless network providers have created price plans to discourage exentsive usage of their networks, charging overage fees, deprioritizing traffic, and even throttling (slowing down) traffic once a business exceeds a certain throughput threshold.
These plans, designed for residential users, are mostly imcompatible for businesses who rely on their internet connections to move large files, documents, videos, and to conduct other bandwidth-intense applications such as video conferencing, screen sharing, and conference calls.
As an example, Verizon released it's business internet pricing for its 4G network in December 2019:
In the case of Verizon, users on their 50 Mbps (down) plan can use the service as intented until they reach 22 GB of usage. Once that happens, the users' traffic gets "deprioritized" - meaning the user's traffic could "go to the back of the line" if the network is congested. If the network is underutilized in that moment, deprioritization doesn't cause any additional delays, but in today's day and age, this almost never happens. Once the user reaches 125 GB, throttling (reducing the download speeds from 50 Mbps to 600 Kbps) occurs. Yes, you read that right, 600 Kbps (almost as slow as the old dial-up speeds)!
AT&T isn't much better.
According to an AT&T Alliance Partner, AT&T also imposes usage limits. We optained the most recent partner pricing rate card:
According to this source, AT&T users on their 50 Mbps (down) plan can use the service as intended until they reach 125 GB of usage, significantly higher than Verizon's limit of 22 GB. .But once that happens, the AT&T users' traffic gets throttled from 50 Mbps to 600 Kbps.
On AT&T's richest service (100 Mbps), the biggest usage limit you can get is 175 GB. In comparison, a Comcast business internet plan for 100 Mbps typically allows the user up to 1,000 GB (1 TB) before usage penalties will kick in. If wireless 4G LTE internet plans have any chance of unseating their terrestrial competition, they're going to have to be able to accept more than 17% of the traffic at the same speeds.
Unlimited Plans on the Horizon?
In order for 4G LTE to have any chance of being used in a primary connection role, higher usage limits are the key requirement. According to a source that wishes to remain nameless, there is a provider that is working on rolling out a 500 GB usage plan for small businesses with download speeds of 50 Mbps. While no timeline was given on its release, the market stands ready to vote with its wallet. Only time will tell.
Want to Learn More?
If you would like to engage with a Trusted Advisor that can advise you or if you'd like to locate a local 4G dealer capable of selling you unlimited 4G data plans, give our technical help desk a call at +1 (888) 711-3656 and we'll put you in contact with a trusted independent security specialist in your area.
About the Author: Olivia Infante is the Associate Editor of BizPhonics.com. She covers all of the recent developments in mobile connectivity and cybersecurity. She's been all over the globe, attending conferences, talking to analysts, and interviewing mobility and cybersecurity experts to piece together a comprehensive view of which products and services work best accross a variety of industries.