Verizon Defends Data Throttling Strategy

Verizon Defends Data Throttling Strategy

Brother, can you spare a megabyte?

Verizon has formally responded to a complaint from US Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, stating that its plan to throttle customers on "unlimited" data plans is both fair and non-controversial. In fact, Verizon says, it did the same thing to customers previously with 3G services, and there were few complaints.

"The type of network optimization policy that we follow has been endorsed by the FCC as a narrowly targeted way to ensure a fair allocation of capacity during times of congestion," Verizon senior vice president Kathleen Grillo writes in a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. "In short this practice has been widely accepted with little or no controversy."

Verizon announced the plan in late July, noting that it would expand its so-called network optimization policy to include those 4G LTE unlimited data plan users who are in the top 5 percent of data users on its network. "They may experience slower data speeds when using certain high bandwidth applications, such as streaming high-definition video or during real-time, online gaming, and only when connecting to a cell site when it is experiencing heavy demand," the firm explained. As with its previous strategy of limiting 3G users, this step is being taken so that "all data users will enjoy a quality wireless data experience."

In addition to having previously worked to shut down its heaviest data users, Verizon also told. Mr. Wheeler that its major wireless carrier rivals--AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile—all have similar plans in place. "This practice has been widely accepted with little or no controversy," Grillo explained. T-Mobile, for example, markets itself as the "Uncarrier" but throttles heavy data users "regardless of whether customers are at a location experiencing congestion."

Verizon currently plans to implement this expansion of its network optimization policy to those with 4G LTE unlimited data plans in October 2014.

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