Senators Ask the FCC to Investigate Wireless Carrier Throttling

(Bloomberg) -- Three senators asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate whether U.S. wireless carriers are throttling popular applications without telling customers.

The request came after Bloomberg News reported that the largest U.S. telecom companies are slowing internet traffic to and from apps such as YouTube and Netflix, citing research from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The researchers used a smartphone app called Wehe, downloaded by more than 100,000 consumers, to monitor which mobile services were being throttled and by whom.

Senators Ask the FCC to Investigate Wireless Carrier Throttling

Even after the repeal of net-neutrality rules, requiring the carriers treat all internet traffic equally, the FCC has to make sure service providers give consumers accurate information about their broadband access.

In November, the Democratic senators -- Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut -- said they wrote to Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. expressing concern that customers often aren’t aware of the throttling.

The companies "failed to answer many of our questions, leaving us even more concerned about the carriers’ practice of purposeful degradation of certain services," the senators wrote in their letter to the FCC. The lawmakers asked the agency to respond by Feb. 27 in writing whether it will investigate.

The carriers told Bloomberg in September that they throttle to manage internet traffic. Verizon said it doesn’t automatically throttle any customers, while AT&T executive John Donovan said the company doesn’t "look at any traffic differently than any other traffic."

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.