From the actual notice (emphasis mine):
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.
By comparison, here’s the gist of most alarmist posts I’ve seen so far today:
Verizon will throttle top 5% of mobile data users
Notice the difference? All VZW’s saying is that they reserve the right to take punitive measures against people who fulfil TWO (not just the 5% everyone seems to be talking about) use conditions. Mobile data congestion is a real problem (thanks to Motorola engineer Paul Odlyzko for explaining this to me in late 2009), but I think the real reason Verizon’s making this statement is to prevent mobile data from cannibalizing their landline ISP business. I know at least a few people whose primary internet connection is via mobile tethering. They might want to move somewhere they can actually get landline broadband.*
Users can easily mitigate this issue by taking advantage of open Wi-Fi networks (and switching to Wi-Fi ASAP after getting home). I do admit that you can easily pull down a LOT of data while despite doing that, though: I blew through 498MB of data last month on my Droid 1.
Ironically, not as many people seem to be up in arms about Verizon’s 3G network “optimization,” which IMO just sounds like a way to herd enthusiast users onto the 4G LTE bus.
*And yes, broadband options should be one of the first things you check for when you’re househunting. If you decide to shack up in the middle of nowhere and then whine that about their (lack of) ISP options … that was your decision and is your problem.