Verizon and the Federal Communications Commission at butting heads over Verizon’s practice of restricting (throttling) broadband connection speeds of customers, who in Verizon’s view overuse far more than their fair share of bandwidth at peak hours of the day.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sent a letter to Daniel Mead, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, on July 30 to express his disappointment with Verizon’s practices and policies in this area.
Wheeler’s letter specifically referred to Verizon’s announcement about its new “Network Optimization” policy, which states the company intends to slow some customers’ data speeds on its 4G LTE network beginning in October 2014.
The new policy applies only to residential customers with unlimited data plans, which are now legacy plans that are no longer available. Verizon described the types of customers who would be affected by the new policy as “the top 5 percent of data users on unlimited data plans” in places and at times when the network is experiencing high demand. Verizon considers heavy-usage customers those who use over 4.7 GB of data per month. They also advise customers to use Wi-Fi networks whenever possible.
Also mentioned in the letter, Wheeler questions why does Verizon treat customers on unlimited plans differently than those on usage-based plans? He also wants to know why Verizon advises these customers that, “If you’re on an unlimited data plan and are concerned that you are in the top 5 percent of users, you can switch to a usage-based data plan as customers on usage-based plans are not impacted.”
Interestingly enough Mead said that the FCC had not problem with its policy in 2011, under a different chairman; and he played the usual “everyone else does it” card. In this case, though, he is probably right.