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Public Knowledge Wants Data Cap Investigation, But FCC Chairman “Open to New Billing Models”

As consumers continue to blow through their $30 2-3GB usage capped 4G/LTE wireless tablet plans offered by Verizon Wireless and AT&T, Public Knowledge is repeating calls for the Federal Communications Commission to launch a formal investigation into data caps.

“It’s a ridiculous situation that the carriers sell millions of these devices specifically designed to view video on one hand, while they restrict the usage of their networks for video on the other,” said Gigi B. Sohn, president and CEO of the consumer group.

Public Knowledge is specifically calling out wireless phone companies because they stand to make millions as customers rack up usage charges when using 4G-equipped tablets with the carriers’ usage-limited wireless networks.

“It is simply inexcusable that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has not even seen fit to ask wireless and landline carriers to explain why those caps are necessary, how they are set and how consumers are affected by them,” Sohn added. “If the Commission is truly interested in consumer protection, it will ask the crucial questions and come up with some answers before consumers start getting hit with ever-increasing bills just for using the devices they bought in good faith.”

Sohn

Although the majority of Apple iPads sold in North America only support Wi-Fi, 4G-equipped models have proven addictive, with some customers obliterating their usage allowances with AT&T and Verizon after just a few hours of use.

Wireless carriers largely blame online video for the heavy usage.

“Streaming video consumes the most data of all possible activities and is often the reason customers are among the top 5% of heaviest users,” AT&T notes on its website.

The Federal Communications Commission’s apparent lack of interest in investigating data caps may not be that surprising, however.

In releasing the Commission’s own proposed Net Neutrality rules in late 2010, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made it clear he was open to new billing models that charge by how much data a user consumes.  With a green light for Internet Overcharging, carriers responded with usage limits and usage-based pricing, raising customer bills in the process.

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. Tk says:

    We do not lack the technology to push increasing amounts of data through the Internet. ISPs have adapted to the demand for years and will continue to do so. The creation of caps on landline connections is all about protecting TV revenue, as most ISPs are in the TV business too. If there were congestion, caps would apply only in peak hours and would appear as slowdowns for heavy users, not extra charges, or expulsion from service.

    On the wireless side data plans allowed 5gb on early laptop cards when the speeds were so low a person would have to work at it to use it up. The caps need to rise with the times and increasing speeds of wireless networks.

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  • Jonny: My smaller cable company Suddenlink (1.4M customers) started the same thing. 250GB cap with with their medium speed of 50mbps. They are only doing thi...
  • Joe V: Man these guys just don't get it. Not to worry, just as the music industry learned the hard way that to piss off their customers by giving them crap, ...
  • Mike D.: The TV providers have never been willing to fight for the consumer with the other conglomerates who bundled crap with one or two channels of good cont...
  • Sean Colbert: The comcast cap isnt even bad compared to mine. I have Hughesnet Gen4 (All I can get in my area) and I have a 20gb a month limit with an extra 50 in b...
  • zychor: 59Mbps down, 5.9Mbps up ..it doesn't matter internet is so slow...
  • Phillip Dampier: Rats... and I knew I caught this in the proofread and made the change but it stayed a draft while the inaccurate one went live. Thanks for catching th...
  • Dave: Quit whining....bunch of babies...
  • bob: how is this fair to existing customers who reside in areas where upgrade hasnt gone through. im supposed to pay 60 plus dollars each month for extreme...
  • Michael Elling: Paul, part of this stems from the industry's infatuation with vertical models and the govt-granted quasi-monopoly structure stemming from spectrum sal...
  • Paul Houle: One of the funny things about the current debate is that communities everywhere are asking for better wireline broadband, but you don't see many peop...
  • Duffin: I have just dropped my cable, and I do plan on getting Hulu Plus instead, but you know what? If they stop putting current episodes on Hulu I'm just no...
  • David Manthos: The bill is actually HB 2551, not 2511. http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/Bills_history.cfm?input=2551&year=2016&sessiontype=RS&...

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