Verizon defends slowdown of unlimited customers' data to FCC

WASHINGTON Mon Aug 4, 2014 6:40pm EDT

A sign hangs in the Verizon booth on the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 8, 2013.    REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A sign hangs in the Verizon booth on the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc defended its decision to slow data downloads for some customers using older unlimited data plans, telling U.S. regulators it was a "widely accepted" and lawful part of network management.

In a letter dated Aug. 1, Verizon responded to U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, who last week wrote Verizon Wireless Chief Executive Dan Mead to say he was "deeply troubled" by Verizon's plans.

In July, Verizon said high speed wireless customers who subscribe to the company's legacy unlimited data plans might experience slower speeds starting Oct. 1.

The company has a similar policy in place for customers on its slower 3G network.

"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," Kathleen Grillo, senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs at Verizon, said in the letter.

"In short this practice has been widely accepted with little or no controversy," Grillo added in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, noted that the practice of slowing down certain users' networks in order to prevent congestion has been widely used by broadband providers and its competitors.

"We absolutely know that it was the right thing to do and we know that it was in line with the FCC's principles," Mead said on Monday, in a meeting with a group of journalists.

Wheeler's reprimand of Verizon came as he is seeking to establish himself as a strong defender of web users' interests and someone prepared to punish Internet service providers whose business practices may hurt consumers or competition.

His efforts follow the FCC's proposal of new "net neutrality" rules that guide how broadband providers manage web traffic on their networks, which has drawn fire from consumer advocates, the public and some Internet companies.

Verizon added that while its high speed network has great advantage over its slower 3G network, its capacity remains shared and limited.

Verizon stopped offering unlimited plans in 2012. U.S. wireless carriers have been working to shift their increasingly data-hungry subscribers onto tiered pricing plans, which charge customers for specific amounts of data they agree to consume.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh in Washington and Marina Lopes in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Comments (2)
Noceg wrote:
So, let me make sure I understand this. If I have an unlimited plan, i need to be slowed down to ensure I am not causing congestion, but if I allow them to charge me for additional usage, that won’t cause congestion.
Now, I am not a smart person, but this sounds STUPID!

You cannot say that in one way it causes congestion, but in another capacity it won’t.

At this point, I will be canceling my Verizon accounts

Aug 05, 2014 8:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
yoscott wrote:
So Verizon thinks we are stupid. Their concept is to frustrate, anger and penalize those who Verizon offered unlimited data to years ago. These people have paid Verizon and have been loyal to them and yet that is not acceptable to this company. They want to slow their speed down so they beg for help from Verizon. Get ready for this folks. You are going to have 5 companies that employ a “pay to play” policy where they will decide what content makes it to peoples’ homes. It is so dangerous and destructive that they need to be stopped at all costs. Netflix would never had been able to launch and challenge these oligopolies if they were allowed to do these things.

Aug 06, 2014 2:00pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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