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Verizon response to FCC's throttling concerns: everyone's doing it

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Verizon Wireless has officially responded to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and his data throttling concerns. The Verge has obtained a copy of the carrier's response, dated August 1st, which was written by Kathleen Grillo, the company's SVP of Federal Regulatory Affairs. In it, Verizon underlines the notion that customers will only experience slowdowns "under very limited circumstances." It will only happen at "particular cell sites experiencing unusually high demand," the letter reads. We've outlined the other factors that could result in reduced data speeds previously.

Verizon notes that any throttling will cease immediately when demand on a strained cell site returns to normal. "Our practice is a measured and fair step to ensure that this small group of customers do not disadvantage all others in the sharing of network resources during times of high demand." The carrier insists only big data users who "have an out-sized effect on the network" will be slowed down.

Verizon claims those same people almost always have unlimited data plans and have "no incentive not to" hog up network resources. The top 5 percent of data users will be subject to LTE throttling beginning in October. It may sound difficult to reach that level of data usage, but keep in mind that right now Verizon says exceeding 4.7GB of data would put you there. "We are providing this notice several months in advance to be open and transparent with our customers about network management practices that could affect their service."

"The rationale is to provide the best possible network experience for customers..."

More importantly, Verizon also hammers on the fact that it's by no means la. Every other major wireless provider in the United States — AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile — has already implemented some form of data throttling or "network optimization" as it's often called. "This practice has been widely accepted with little or no controversy," writes Grillo. Verizon goes a step further and says its competitors often have "less tailored" policies that can impact customers even when network congestion isn't an issue. Here the company takes a shot at John Legere and T-Mobile, pointing out that the "Uncarrier" gives itself the right to throttle "regardless of whether customers are at a location experiencing congestion."

Comcast should probably pay attention here, since Verizon's letter essentially dismisses the idea of LTE being a viable replacement for home internet. "The network's capacity remains a shared and limited resource that we must manage to provide the best experience for all of our consumers," Verizon says. And yes, that's even with XLTE and other network initiatives factored in. In response to Wheeler's reference to C Block rules and the FCC's Open Internet Order, Verizon seems confident that everything it's doing is perfectly legal and already permitted under current law. "Our customers continue to be free to go where they want on the internet and to use the applications, services, and devices of their choice."