November 15, 2018

Wyden, Markey, Blumenthal Query Mobile Carriers About Throttling Practices

Recent research alleges violations of net neutrality principles in slowing down select internet traffic

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, Edward J. Markey and Richard Blumenthal today sent letters to AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile after a recent study revealed the companies were slowing down certain services on their networks.

A study using data collected from an app called “Wehe” showed that each mobile carrier has been throttling at least one video streaming service. The research indicated that Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and NBC Sports have all been subject to throttling.

“All online traffic should be treated equally, and internet service providers should not discriminate against particular content or applications for competitive advantage purposes or otherwise,” the senators wrote in their letters.

In their letters, the Senators ask for responses to questions that include:

  • Has your company put into practice policies to throttle or prioritize internet traffic for consumers? What is the purpose of these policies?
  • Are consumers able to opt-in or opt-out of traffic differentiation? Does a customer’s choice change the price or affect their service, such as data allocation or requiring a different plan?
  • How do you determine which network traffic receives faster or slower treatment? Is it based on content, behavior, or IP address?

A copy of the letters can be found here.

In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed its net neutrality rules that prohibited throttling and other discriminatory practices. Markey introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to reinstate those rules in February 2018. The resolution was passed by the Senate on a bi-partisan basis in May, and is being debated in the House of Representatives.