Is Verizon Wireless Violating Net Neutrality?
Late last week Verizon Wireless customers started to notice something suspicious: Videos from Netflix and YouTube were slow.
Verizon Wireless couldn't explain why. When reporters asked the wireless giant to comment, the company first said it was just a temporary network test with no impact on user experience. But later Verizon admitted that, temporary test or not, it was indeed “optimizing” video streams.
What's the difference between “optimization” and “throttling”? Optimization is just big wireless companies' preferred term for slowing down, reshaping or degrading your video traffic, over the connection you buy, using the mobile-data plans you pay for. Some favor, huh?
It's unclear exactly what's happening, but if Verizon Wireless is throttling video for no good reason this could be a direct violation of the FCC's existing Net Neutrality rules.
The FCC’s Net Neutrality rules clearly state that broadband providers cannot "impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, application, or service" unless it's what the agency calls “reasonable network management” for a legitimate technical purpose. Slowing down an entire class of applications, such as all video, would violate this no-throttling rule.
Slowing down video, and only video, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If Verizon's network can handle traffic, it can handle traffic — whether it's video or not. That's why the Net Neutrality rules allow for network management — but prohibit companies from cherry-picking which apps work and which ones don't.
Trump's FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, has been pushing hard to undo the agency's Net Neutrality rules, but this is exactly the kind of behavior these rules are designed to stop.
If Verizon Wireless is violating Net Neutrality, it needs to pay the price. And the FCC needs to keep the rules that ban this kind of nonsense. Demand an FCC investigation.