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Tom Wheeler accuses AT&T and Verizon of violating net neutrality

Enlarge / AT&T Sponsored Data charges companies for the right to offer Internet content without counting against mobile data caps. (credit: AT&T)

With just over a week left as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler today accused AT&T and Verizon Wireless of violating net neutrality rules with paid data cap exemptions. But with the FCC about to switch to Republican control after next week’s inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, AT&T and Verizon can likely keep doing what they’re doing without any chance of punishment.

Wheeler described his views in a letter to US senators who had expressed concern about the data cap exemptions, or “zero-rating.” FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff today also issued a report concluding that AT&T and Verizon zero-rating programs are unfair to competitors. Both Wheeler’s letter and the staff report can be read in full here.

The main issue is that AT&T and Verizon allow their own video services (DirecTV and Go90, respectively) to stream on their mobile networks without counting against customers’ data caps, while charging other video providers for the same data cap exemptions. The FCC also examined T-Mobile USA’s zero-rating program but found that it poses no competitive harms because T-Mobile offers data cap exemptions to third parties free of charge. T-Mobile also “provides little streaming video programming of its own,” giving it less incentive to disadvantage video companies that need to use the T-Mobile network, the FCC said.

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Source: Ars Technica – Technology

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