Verizon responds to FCC concerns over data throttling, calls method 'measured and fair'

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In response to U.S. Federal Communications Commission chief Tom Wheeler's concerns over Verizon's plan to throttle LTE data speeds for high-use customers, the nation's No. 1 carrier called the practice fair and said it is not alone in using such tactics.

In a note to the FCC, a copy of which was obtained by The Verge, Verizon's SVP of Federal Regulatory Affairs Kathleen Grillo said the carrier's "network optimization" initiative affects a small number of customers and only "under very limited circumstances."

When Verizon's network is particularly congested in a specific area, the cellular provider intends to limit 4G LTE speeds for customers with grandfathered-in unlimited data accounts who "have an out-sized effect on the network," a practice better known as "data throttling."

"This practice has been widely accepted with little or no controversy," Grillo writes. Further, Verizon claims its policy is better for consumers than similar plans currently employed by T-Mobile, which allows the Uncarrier to throttle "regardless of whether customers are at a location experiencing congestion."

Under the terms, slated to take effect in October, power users may see slower than normal data speeds when performing high bandwidth operations like streaming high-definition video or playing real-time games.

"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," Grillo says.

Last week, FCC Chairman Wheeler wrote to Verizon CEO Daniel Mead, voicing concern over the carrier's forthcoming rule change.

"'Reasonable network management' concerns the technical management of your network; it is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams," Wheeler wrote.

According to Re/code, Mead met with press in New York on Monday to clarify the issue, saying the company was surprised by Wheeler's letter because Verizon employed the same tactic to rein in rampant 3G data use in 2011.

"I don't think the FCC really understood what we were doing," Mead said.


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