FCC Chairman expresses concern over Verizon's 4G LTE Network Optimization

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: July 30, 2014

Verizon HTC DROID DNA 4G LTE

Verizon recently announced a plan to extend its Network Optimization policy to customers with unlimited 4G LTE data plans, saying that it will slow the speeds of users that meet a certain set of criteria. The news didn’t sit well with some Verizon customers, and now it looks like they aren’t the only ones bothered by Verizon’s decision.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has written a letter to Verizon Wireless CEO Daniel Mead that highlights his displeasure with Verizon’s newest Network Optimization effort. "'Reasonable network management' concerns the technical management of your network; it is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams,” Wheeler wrote, going on to say that he finds it “disturbing” that Verizon would manage its network based on the data plans of its subscribers rather than its own network architecture or technology.

Later on in his letter, Wheeler asked several questions regarding Verizon’s Network Optimization effort. Those included the reasoning behind Verizon’s decision to serve customers differently based on their data plan and why Verizon is extending the same Network Optimization plan from its slower 3G network to its speedier 4G network. The FCC Chairman also asked how Verizon could justify its Network Optimization policy considering its regulatory obligations.

Verizon 4G LTE logo

Verizon stopped offering its unlimited data plan to new customers in 2012, and while it has allowed existing subscribers to keep that plan, it’s become increasingly difficult for customers to do so. The big red carrier recently killed off its Device Payment Plan, which was one of the easier ways for consumers to keep their bottomless data bucket. Now users that want to keep their grandfathered unlimited data plan must pony up hundreds of dollars for the full retail price of a device.

Verizon has said that its Network Optimization effort will only take effect if a consumer has an unlimited data plan, is among the top 5 percent of its heaviest users, has fulfilled the minimum contractual agreement and is using an LTE device on a highly-trafficked cell site. That’s a pretty specific set of criteria to meet, but the fact that could happy at all has still peeved many of those folks that are clinging to their unlimited Verizon data plan.

What do you think of Verizon’s Network Optimization plan? Are you ok with it since it requires a user to meet several requirements before having his or her speeds slowed? Or do you agree with FCC Chairman Wheeler when he says that VZW should manage its network using its own technology rather than basing it on the data plans of users?

Via Reuters