Verizon’s Orwellian Vocabulary: Throttling = Optimization

by Matt Klassen on February 4, 2011

In his popular book 1984, George Orwell laid out his dark dystopian vision of the future, where Big Brother controlled every facet of our lives, telling us what to think and how to think it. In this totalitarian regime Orwell imagined a reworking of our vocabulary as well, where the powers that be could redefine words at will, implementing what Orwell described as newspeak, the reinvention of the meaning of language.

As Verizon gets set to release the iPhone 4, it looks like its marketing and network management departments are honing their reworked Orwellian vocabularies, reminding us that in wireless network newspeak we need to forget words like “throttling” or “arbitrary broadband discrimination,” and replace them instead with new redefined terms like “VZOptimization.”

Lest we commit some sort of facecrime though, allowing our faces to express the true emotions and doubts of our soul and thus giving Big Brother/Verizon reason to doubt our allegiance, perhaps we should all just smile about this, thanking Verizon for the benevolent management of its network…or on second thought, perhaps not.

If you wondered how Verizon would cope with the increased network demands wrought by data intensive devices like the iPhone 4, it looks like we may have the answer. This past week Verizon announced in an internal PDF memo that it would be purposely throttling back the data speeds of its heaviest data users, and in true Orwellian fashion Verizon would like everyone to know that as part of the industry’s newspeak, this throttling is a necessary part of its aptly named VZOptimization process.

As stated in the PDF: “Verizon Wireless strives to provide customers the best experience when using our network, a shared resource among tens of millions of customers. To help achieve this, if you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top 5% of Verizon Wireless data users 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. 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.”

Simply put, Verizon is looking to arbitrarily inconvenience the few for the sake of maintaining the network speed of the many. While this may sound like a violation of the FCC’s new Net Neutrality standards, don’t count on it. Despite the fact that we’re still waiting to see if Net Neutrality is even enforceable, one noticeable addendum to the policy allowed for greater flexibility in the management of wireless networks, meaning that such throttling is still allowed.

So how do you feel about this VZOptimization process? Is Verizon simply trying to mask the fact that its network may not be able to handle intensive data devices any better than AT&T, is Verizon simply trying to make us feel better about the fact that it punishes certain people based on their data download tendencies, although they pay for every GB of data they access?

Or perhaps we should stop asking such questions and  just try to be a goodthinker, one of the dedicated few that praises the regime for its redefinition of language, doesn’t ask questions, and blindly accepts this as necessary for the greater good.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS >, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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