Verizon asked to justify data-speed slowdown

Posted: July 31, 2014 at 2:46 a.m.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday told Verizon Wireless he's troubled by the company's plan to reduce data speeds for some heavy Internet users.

Wheeler in a letter asked Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mead to explain the rationale behind the changes set to take effect in October. Verizon's decision, based on distinctions among customers' plans, doesn't appear to fit definitions of reasonable network management, Wheeler said.

The unit of Verizon Communications Inc. is the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with 98 million monthly subscribers. It uses airwaves purchased on condition the company not limit the ability of end users to download and utilize applications of their choosing, Wheeler said.

Verizon said in a July 25 blog post that speeds may be slowed for those with data plans that allow unlimited consumption and are among the heaviest users.

"They may experience slower data speeds when using certain high bandwidth applications, such as streaming high-definition video or during real-time, online gaming, and only when connecting to a cell site when it is experiencing heavy demand," the company said in the blog post.

Robin Nicol, a spokesman for Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless, didn't immediately respond to a telephone call and email request for comment about Wheeler's letter.

The FCC's regulations to ensure open Internet practices were voided by a court this year in a lawsuit filed by Verizon, and the FCC is writing new rules.

Information for this article was contributed by Scott Moritz of Bloomberg News.

Business on 07/31/2014