The dominoes are starting to fall. On the same day that the new net neutrality rules set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) went into effect, Sprint has officially stopped its policy of throttling data speeds, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal.
Before the new net neutrality rules were put into place by the FCC, various wireless carriers, including Sprint, have been slowing down data speeds for some of their subscribers, especially those who went beyond the data allowances of their mobile service plans. But everything is changing now, even more so when it appears that the FCC is really serious about enforcing the new rules.
Just yesterday, for example, the agency announced that it is moving to issue a fine to another carrier, AT&T, in the amount of $100 million for misleading mobile subscribers by slowing down data speeds on unlimited plans. This marks the first time that the FCC is going after a company that has broken the new neutrality rules. The agency is basically alleging that AT&T, by improperly promoting its plans as unlimited, is in violation of the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule.
Perhaps not wanting to be fined by the FCC, Sprint has taken a pre-emptive approach by putting a stop to its data throttling policy. Under the old rules, the carrier would have gotten away with its policy. Sprint, of course, stands by its belief that the data policy it established was necessary for optimizing its overall network performance.
Sprint is not the only who employs this tactic. Many a carrier have defended this kind of policy, citing that it can be an effective way of thwarting mobile users who eat up more data than is allowed. The only problem is that mobile operators often enforce the policy on unlimited plans, which as their name implies, should have no restrictions on data speeds whatsoever. And it has never been clear which users get throttled -- carriers mostly just go after a certain percentile of top data users, which means that people often are not sure exactly when they will get throttled.
The FCC's new net neutrality rules will put an end to that. Under the new rules, broadband services are now reclassified as a public utility -- it is now subject to fair use for all, meaning wireless carriers can no longer just do stuff like slowing down data speeds whenever they want to. And that is not all -- the new rules also prohibit web service providers from offering paid services that would give priority to content providers who want to access faster data speeds when networks are congested.
The dominoes may have already started falling, but those affected by the new net neutrality rules are not going down without a fight. As a matter of fact, they are filing several lawsuits against the FCC, trying to stop the new rules. Indeed, the battle has just begun.
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