FCC would regulate Internet data caps under Wyden bill


Internet service providers would have to measure data usage according to federal standards under a bill introduced recently by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The Dec. 20 bill (.pdf) would have the Federal Communications Commission establish the standards in consultation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the private sector.

Internet service providers who don't use the FCC standards would not be allowed to cap the amount of data consumers use.

The commission would also determine whether a provider's data cap does in fact limit network congestion or if it needlessly discourages Internet use.

Wyden introduced the Data Cap Integrity Act a few days after the New America Foundation released a report (.pdf) that called into question whether monthly data caps actually address network congestion.

The report says that "data caps, especially on wireline networks, are hardly a necessity. Rather, they are motivated by a desire to further increase revenues from existing subscribers and protect legacy services such as cable television from competing Internet services."

Data caps have "become a cash cow for the two largest mobile providers, Verizon and AT&T, who already were making impressive margins on their mobile data service before abandoning unlimited plans," it also says.

Wyden's bill "is intended to...ensure that data caps are used only to serve the legitimate purpose of addressing congestion," the senator says in a press release.

The bill also includes a net-neutrality provision that would bar Internet service providers from giving "preferential treatment" to certain data based on its content or source.

For more:
- download the Data Cap Integrity Act (.pdf)
- download the New America report (.pdf)

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