Thanks, Verizon! Now The FCC Is Asking All Carriers About Data Throttling

Verizon is going to have some ’splaining to do at the next U.S. mobile carrier potluck social.

When the FCC questioned America’s largest wireless operator earlier this week about its habit of “throttling” data speeds for heavy users, Verizon’s response basically amounted to, “We’re just doing what everyone else is doing.” That seems to have ticked off FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who’s now pursuing the throttling issue at other carriers, too.

Verizon isn’t wrong: AT&T and T-Mobile both have been intentionally slowing subscribers’ data connectivity to discourage and curb excessive use (or so they say). Sprint joined the throttling ranks this spring.

See also: How All The Major U.S. Carriers Throttle Your Mobile Data

Somehow, Sprint’s move didn’t trigger governmental interest in the matter. But Verizon’s announcement last month did. The latter revealed it would be extending its throttling policy, which previously only covered 3G devices, to its 4G LTE gadgets now too—but only those belonging to its heaviest data users with unlimited plans. Starting October 1, they’ll start seeing speeds drop.

Verizon calls it “network optimization.” Wheeler calls it BS. And he’s not having it.

Addressing reporters today, he said:

“All the kids do it” was never something that worked for me when I was growing up. My concern in this instance—and it’s not just with Verizon, by the way, we’ve written to all the carriers—is that it is moving from a technology and engineering issue to the business issues.

Last week, Wheeler penned the original FCC letter that called Verizon’s new policy “deeply troubling.” The letter mostly took aim at the company singling out people with grandfathered unlimited plans. Now, his scope seems to be increasing to include the practices of all the major U.S. carriers.

This isn’t the first time Verizon and the FCC chairman have locked horns. Their infamous broadband skirmish set off the recent net-neutrality battle. That fight seems to be hopping the fence into other territories now—and taking all the other cellular carriers with it.

That may be great news for subscribers wondering if service providers really are trying to protect their networks—or just bleeding them dry every chance they get. 

Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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