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Verizon's spat with the FCC will resolve nothing

Verizon fires back at the FCC
Verizon fires back at the FCC
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Many wireless providers will throw out keywords, such as ‘network optimization’, with hopes that none of their customer base would figure out what they are doing. Last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sent a letter to Verizon Wireless about their attempt to throttle consumers with unlimited data plans if they exceed a threshold starting this coming October.

"It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its network management on distinctions among its customers' data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology," Wheeler said in his letter to the provider.

This is nothing new to consumers that have wireless service provided by companies like AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. Many, if not all, companies use the phrase ‘reasonable network management’ to imply that when a certain area becomes too bogged down with data usage, a top percentage of users, will experience a slowdown until the traffic reverts to normality.

In the open letter to Verizon, Wheeler chose to take issue with that explanation. "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," Wheeler wrote.

This week, Verizon took offense to Wheeler’s claims and basically responded with the ‘everyone else does it’ defense. "Our practice is a measured and fair step to ensure that this small group of customers do not disadvantage all others in the sharing of network resources during times of high demand," Verizon’s SVP of Federal Regulatory Affairs, Kathleen Grillo, wrote in her response to the FCC.

Verizon is claiming that the ‘throttling’ will only impact the top 5 percent of data users that exceed the 4.7GB of data. Yet Verizon points out that their policy is much more defined as opposed to other carrier that simply throttle users that exceed a certain amount of data, as opposed to Verizon who chooses to only implement it in congested areas.

No one is sure why the FCC called out Verizon for their ‘optimization’ while other providers have been doing this for years. Verizon had been the last company to start ‘throttling’ their customers, so what brought this up now? From the looks of their letters, it seems that nothing will change as Verizon can do whatever they wish on their service. They are not denying those customer service, they are simply slowing it down. After all, that is what Verizon promised.