During the recent national debate over net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai insisted that companies would not engage in unfair throttling of customers and would act reasonably and fairly in using their control over wireless service. The CC, Pai, and Verizon are under withering attack this week after Verizon throttled the wireless service of the Santa Clara Fire Department in the middle of fighting a massive fire emergency — putting both first responders and citizens alike at risk. The fire fighters were told by Verizon in the middle of their emergency that they might want to upgrade their plans with Verizon and the company would be happy to help them with a new plan.
Verizon has now promised not to throttle the fire department but the incident has highlighted the use of throttling against consumer after winning control from Paia and the Administration. The controversial decision — made on a strict partisan vote — by the FCC changed the 2015 Open Internet Order under which the Federal Communications Commission it made broadband Internet service providers common carriers subject to the federal laws that protect consumers to protect privacy and promote competition as well as establishing “net neutrality” rules based on its Title II authority. That included bans on precisely this type of manipulation, including “no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization.”
What is fascinating is that companies like Verizon argued that part of the reason for giving them back control was to prioritize services for first responders while promising not to throttle consumers to force unfair plans. They appear to have done precisely the opposite here.