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Thursday, February 03, 2011, 07:25 am PT (10:25 am ET)

Ahead of iPhone launch, Verizon throttles bandwidth of top data hogs

The top 5 percent of data users on the Verizon Wireless network may see slower throughput speeds, the carrier announced Thursday as it began accepting preorders for the iPhone 4.

In a notice posted Thursday on Verizon's official website, customers were informed that the carrier is implementing two new network management practices. It said that the changes will provide a better experience for its more than 94 million customers.

Verizon said that customers who subscribe to a data plan or feature on Thursday or later may see their bandwidth speeds throttled, if they use an extraordinary amount of data every month. The limits will be placed on customers who are among the top 5 percent of data users, Verizon said.

"We may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycle to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand," the notice says.

"Our proactive management of the Verizon Wireless network is designed to ensure that the remaining 95% of data customers aren't negatively affected by the inordinate data consumption of just a few users."

Unsurprisingly, the change in policy coincides with the carrier's upcoming launch of the iPhone 4. Both Verizon and Apple began accepting preorders for the new handset on Thursday, a purchase that requires a new two-year service contract under the carrier's new terms of service.

Verizon is likely looking to avoid overwhelming demand from a rush of iPhone customers when the handset debuts on Feb. 10. Dropped calls and connectivity issues for iPhone users on the AT&T network resulted in a public relations nightmare at times, when AT&T was the exclusive carrier of the iPhone.

In addition to the new bandwidth throttling methods for the most active users, Verizon also announced on Thursday that it is implementing new optimization and transcoding technologies in its network to transmit data files in a more efficient manner. Through caching less data, using less capacity, and sizing video more appropriately for devices, Verizon said it hopes to streamline its network.

"The optimization process is agnostic to the content itself and to the website that provides it," the carrier said. "While we invest much effort to avoid changing text, image, and video files in the compression process and while any change to the file is likely to be indiscernible, the optimization process may minimally impact the appearance of the file as displayed on your device."

For more information on the new optimization methods, Verizon's documentation points users to the URL verizonwireless.com/vwoptimization. However, the page is currently inactive and unavailable.