FCC Asked to Investigate Data Caps.

IT Management

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Public Knowledge, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit promoting openness on the web, recently demanded that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) begin an investigation into how wireless companies have been capping data usage on wireless devices. Specifically, the group said wireless devices such as the new iPad are designed for the consumption of streaming video, which uses data at a high rate.

“Millions of consumers and at least two major publications have now discovered that the new iPads which went on sale come with a hidden cost – the caps on data usage which wireless carriers put on consumers." said Public Knowledge President and CEO Gigi B. Sohn. “It’s a ridiculous situation that the carriers sell millions of these devices specifically designed to view video on one hand, while they restrict the usage of their networks for video on the other."

With consumers demanding more video-on-demand, some may be hit with a surprisingly large data bill if they are not careful, or if they don't know how quickly streaming video can drain their data. With faster 4G wireless access beginning to proliferate around the U.S., this issue may come to a head sooner rather than later.

This is not the first time Public Knowledge has asked the FCC to look at the data-cap issue. Twice last year, the non-profit sent letters to the FCC, both after wireless companies, including AT&T, had announced plans for data-caps. Public Knowledge also issued a report last August that warned of how quickly even an average user would run up against his or her data cap when introduced to 4G speeds.

“It is simply inexcusable that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has not even seen fit to ask wireless and landline carriers to explain why those caps are necessary, how they are set and how consumers are affected by them." said Sohn. "If the Commission is truly interested in consumer protection, it will ask the crucial questions and come up with some answers before consumers start getting hit with ever-increasing bills just for using the devices they bought in good faith.”