Count the head of the FCC amongst those who are not happy with Verizon's decision to 'throttle' the heaviest 5% of data users on congested cell sites.
In a letter released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week, Chairman Tom Wheeler called into question Verizon Wireless 's plan to extend its 3G "Network Optimization" policy to its 4G LTE network. Beginning in October, the carrier plans to slow down network connections for heavy unlimited data customers that "have fulfilled their minimum contract term" on LTE and are on a heavily-trafficked cell site. (See Verizon Applies 3G Throttling Policy to LTE.)
Wheeler said he was "deeply troubled" by this policy given that Verizon is basing network management on data plan distinctions rather than on network architecture or technology. He wrote: "I know of no past Commission statement that would treat as 'reasonable network management' a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for 'unlimited' service."
He sees the move as a way for Verizon to ease more users off unlimited plans and onto other packages in order to make them more profitable customers. "Reasonable network management concerns the technical management of your network; it is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams," Wheeler said.
Verizon responded that it's reviewing Wheeler's letter and will draft a formal response in the timeframe requested, but it reiterated that this is a "highly targeted and very limited network optimization effort."
Wheeler is trying to make a name for himself as a consumer advocate and defender of the open Web with protests such as this and his stand against device unlocking restrictions. It's worth noting, however, that most carriers have some sort of throttling in place, and some are farther reaching too, including that practised by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which throttles anyone that exceeds 5GB of LTE data during the course of a month. (See Phone Unlocking: Almost Legal, Still Not Easy.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading