Verizon’s “All Kids Do It” Excuse For Throttling Isn’t Good Enough For FCC Chair

First, Verizon announced it would start throttling LTE users who devour the most data, but only those with grandfathered-in unlimited plans. Then FCC Chair Tom Wheeler said he was “deeply troubled” that Verizon may be trying to force users into more expensive plans under the guise of “network optimization.” Verizon tried to get Wheeler to back off with its “everyone’s doing it” defense, but that didn’t seem to work.

“‘All the kids do it’ was never something that worked with me when I was growing up and didn’t work with my kids,” explained Wheeler at a press conference earlier today.

Wheeler, a former front man for the wireless industry, accused Verizon of trying to “reframe the issue” rather than responding to the questions he raised about whether or not Verizon’s “Network Optimization” program — which throttles data speeds for its highest-use subscribers when they are connected to high-traffic cell sites — is trying to use the excuse of network congestion to compel unlimited subscribers to switch to tiered data plans that charge overage fees.

“My concern in this instance is that it is moving from technology and engineering issues into business issues,” he explained. “Such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them.”

In his original letter to Verizon Wireless CEO Daniel “I’ve got a need, a need for” Mead, Wheeler pointed out that the FCC rules do allow for wireless companies to do “reasonable network management,” for purposes of “reducing or mitigating the effects of congestion on the network,” but warned the company that network management “is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams.”

Verizon’s response had argued that its competitors are involved in similar throttling programs. Furthermore, the company claims that it’s not about pushing users into a tiered data plan, it’s about getting data hogs to back off when things are busy.

Meanwhile, the folks at advocacy group Public Knowledge recently accused all Verizon and its competition — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint — of failing to follow FCC guidelines for transparency with regard to their respective throttling programs.


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