Following the recent revelation that Verizon Wireless would begin throttling some 4G LTE customers on unlimited data plans, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has sent a letter to the carrier (full text below) expressing his disdain with the policy and question the necessity of throttling only customers on unlimited plans.

In the letter, Wheeler asks Verizon CEO Daniel Mead why exactly the company feels the need to only throttle customers on certain plans, rather than throttling based on the needs of the technology that powers the network. Wheeler says he is “deeply troubled” by Verizon’s claims that the policy is necessary to “optimize” the network, when in his opinion, it appears to more likely be a ploy to get customers off of unlimited plans.

Wheeler ends the letter with a series of questions that he requests Mead answer before moving forward with this new policy decision. These questions seek reasoning about how throttling only unlimited customers actually serves to improve network quality, why the limitations previously placed on the company’s 3G service are now needed on the 4G network, and how Verizon justifies the new policy in relation to its obligations under FCC rules which state that “Verizon Wireless may not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of end users to download and utilize applications of thefrchoosing on the C Block networks.”

It will certainly be interesting to see how this situation plays out between the FCC and Verizon in the months leading up to October, when the new throttling policy is set to go into effect. The full letter from Wheeler is embedded below:

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24 Responses to “FCC throttles Verizon Wireless over plans to throttle customers”

  1. George Lacy says:

    Hot air from the FCC.


  2. He’s probably one of the top 5% Verizon users.


  3. nonstoprug says:

    It’s funny that the FCC would do this to verizon when att has been throttling customers for the same reasons for years. Why is it a problem on verizon and not att. Calling bs. If they are gonna make it not ok for verizon then they should also do so for every other carrier. Cause it is definitely a ploy to get people off of unlimited data.


  4. The FCC’s action is relevant to Verizon because of the terms of their license for C Block Spectrum. The terms of their license state: “Licensees offering service on spectrum subject to this section shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee’s C Block network”


  5. iSRS says:

    While I agree it is likely a ploy to get people off unlimited? The wording of the FCC letter scares me. It will result in throttling everyone.


    • Tim Jr. says:

      Not as big of a threat though.. because they want others to use more to spend more.. If they instituted “bandwidth management” on everyone at peak times instead of just targeting unlimited, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.. It would just be considered smart network management.


  6. rahhbriley says:

    I curious as to why this is an issue now and for Verizon. Espc. with all the bullshit over the last few months with the FCC and net neutrality. HOWEVER, I would love to see this as the consistent tone and response from the FCC, but they’re gonna need to clean house and talk to Comcast, AT&T and cartels before it matters.


    • Verizon made a deal with the FCC to get a massive amount of low-band spectrum that they wouldn’t limit or lock in customers. Thats also one of the reasons Verizon’s LTE phones and Tablets come unlocked. The FCC cannot hold ATT to that deal..


  7. I’m surprised they responded so quickly, this is obviously a ploy to throttle across the board and get people out of unlimited, but why would the FCC care so quickly before the action even goes into place? On that note, why doesn’t the FCC ask them about data overseas/data roaming/call roaming and the raping going on there?


  8. dadzboyz says:

    Great to see the FCC take action like this.
    Great questions are asked, but I would include one more.
    – If this action is designed to manage network optimization and the threshold for throttling service is the top 5% of users, why does this policy only apply to unlimited data plan customers and not tiered data plan customers using the same amount of data? The network does not know a difference between plans. Why does your policy?


    • herb02135go says:

      Because the tiered users are paying more for the same amount of data that’s being used by unlimited users.


      • ann
        I am on a tiered plan after being forced off with a phone replacement. I have Verizon DSL from their one-price-for-life plan that they throttled back to the point it won’t load a simple web page… and now I can’t get the DSL to work at all. So… I upped my wireless GBs on months I work from home a few days to 12 – 14 GB. I am DEFINITELY being throttled. It is painfully obvious… again even on simple web pages. I don’t see how all the cool devices they sell us for their video and music capacities fit with this model. If they can’t support them for a reasonable, and predictable price and quality, there is no point in having a ‘smart’ phone. Seems dumb.


  9. This is exactly what T-Mobile did to me and it’s severly impacted my credit report when I told them I would not stand for that and ported my number out. Unlimited means unlimited. You can change my plan all you want, but don’t tell me it’s unlimited when it’s obviously not.


  10. Kinda makes no sense that Wheeler is disturbed by this, especially since the FCC approves of a two tiered lane for only increasing access speed on media companies that can afford it.


  11. Considering what the FCC is allowing Comcast to get away with (Tom Wheeler being a former executive for Comcast) this just seems like posturing to me.Y’know, to SEEM like the FCC is being tough on throttling. Even when they seem to be all for it when Comcast does it.


  12. Sam Attia says:

    You obviously can’t throttle the customers that are paying by the megabyte, that would limit revenue and profits on their income… But unlimited plans are already paying the most they are going to pay anyway. It’s obviously all about money.


  13. C (@emlax3) says:

    Lots of Verizon employees in the comment section..


  14. I just start love FCC, wish they could do it to AT&T