Verizon isn’t the only U.S. wireless carrier under scrutiny over their shady data management practices. The head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, said today that they have written letters to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint addressing concerns over how they handle data throttling on their networks. It seems that Verizon’s plan to throttle their unlimited data users could spark a something big.
Verizon announced last month that they are planning on throttling the top 5 percent of their data users that are still on unlimited data plans. Subscribers on their current tiered data plans will not be affected. In a response to Wheeler’s questioning letter, Verizon said this type of network management is something that is “widely accepted”. They said their actions are totally legal and fall within standard procedures that all wireless carriers employ. Wheeler said this wasn’t acceptable. “‘All the kids do it’ was never something that worked for me when I was growing up,” he told reporters today. “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 … such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them.”
Wheeler wouldn’t go into about what the additional letters contained, but he did say they were asking similar questions of Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. It appears that Verizon’s choice to target their older, unlimited data customers has caused the FCC to begin questioning what all of the major telecoms are doing. The other wireless carriers can’t be happy with the can of worms that Verizon has opened. Additional scrutiny from the government is something that they try to avoid at all costs.
With the nation’s attention on the FCC over recent net neutrality rule changes, this may be a chance for Wheeler to assert his influence on telecoms in a way that will benefit consumers. The giant wireless carriers in the States aren’t going to like it.