Verizon hits back on FCC warning

Verizon has issued a formal response to the Federal Communications Commission’s warning about slowing down some wireless subscribers’ traffic.

Kathleen Grillo, the company’s senior vice president for federal regulatory affairs, wrote a letter to the FCC on Friday arguing that its throttling of some mobile traffic was rare and “narrowly tailored” to evenly distribute a finite resource when demand is high.

What’s more, she said, everyone does it.


“In short, this practice has been widely accepted with little or no controversy,” Grillo wrote.

Few subscribers will be affected, she said, and then only in certain locations “experiencing unusually high demand” while that demand is high.

“Our goal with our network optimization policy has always been to manage the shared and finite network resources in a manner that best serves our customers,” Grillo wrote. The new practice “is a narrowly tailored and appropriately targeted practice that does just that."

Last month, Verizon announced that it would begin slowing speeds for some heavy data users, which could result in videos or games that take longer to load. The move was necessary, the company said, in order to deal with the growing demand on its networks.

Soon after, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issued a stern warning not to use a “loophole” to beef up its profits.

But Verizon says it shouldn't be singled out for criticism.

For years, Grillo wrote, “this type of network management practice has become a widely accepted and widely adopted industry practice to manage congestion.”

Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile all have similar policies to deal with congestion, she noted.

The FCC’s original net neutrality rules, which mandated equal treatment of all traffic on the Internet but were struck down by an appeals court earlier this year, never applied to wireless traffic. In the commission’s current proposal to rewrite those rules, Wheeler has asked for input about whether they should also apply to people accessing the Web through mobile phones.