FCC chief frowns on Verizon’s slowing speeds

Verizon’s explanation for why it slows some users’ data speeds during peak hours isn’t flying with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.

“ 'All the kids do it' was never something that worked with me when I was growing up and it didn’t work with my kids,” Wheeler told reporters on Friday.

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Earlier this week, Verizon responded to Wheeler’s warning about its policies for throttling, or slowing some Web speeds for high-data users when traffic is high.

Verizon said that the practice “has been widely accepted with little or no controversy,” and pointed out that the other major wireless companies — Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T — all restrict some users' data when capacity is high, in order to manage the networks.

Wheeler said that response wasn’t good enough to calm his concerns that the company was trying to milk users for more profit.

“My concern in this instance is that it is moving from engineering and technological issues into business issues,” he said.

Consumer interest advocates have begun to ask for a crackdown.  

On Wednesday, Public Knowledge filed letters with the four major wireless providers arguing that they were not being transparent about when, precisely, users would be eligible to have their speeds slowed. That vagueness was in violation of the FCC’s transparency regulations, the organization said, and the letters were the first step in filing a formal complaint.