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FCC tells Verizon that just because other carriers throttle, doesn’t mean it can too

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tore apart Verizon’s defense of throttling the data of users on its old unlimited data plan. The FCC also moved to investigate Verizon’s claim that the other main carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint throttle data, too.

Related: Verizon tells the FCC that data throttling is necessary to keep its network going

After the FCC sent a letter to Verizon asking the carrier to explain why it plans to throttle the data of users on its unlimited plans and not those on all its plans, Verizon responded that the new policy will effect a very small sub-set of users. The carrier said that it is trying to move its customers from the old unlimited plans to new capped data plans to decrease network congestion and keep data speeds up. Verizon added that all the other carriers throttle data, too, so it’s an industry standard, not a violation of net neutrality.

Needless to say, Wheeler did not find Verizon’s response favorable and instead of dropping the issue, shot back at Verizon.

“‘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 said. “My concern in this instance – and it’s not just with Verizon, by the way, we’ve written to all the carriers – is that it is moving from a technology and engineering issue to the business issues … such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them.”

In addition, the FCC is now looking into the practice of data throttling in the industry as a whole. Wheeler sent letters to Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, asking the three other major carriers about their respective policies. The FCC did not make the letters public and so far, the other carriers have kept their mouths closed, at least publicly.