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Eshoo Shares Preliminary Findings of Study on Broadband Data Caps with FCC

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, shared preliminary findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on the use of data caps by the nation’s wireless and wireline broadband service providers with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today. Eshoo requested the study of the GAO in May 2013 because of her concerns that discriminatory or arbitrary applications of “usage-based” broadband pricing, often referred to as data caps, could discourage innovation, competition and consumer choice on the Internet. The preliminary findings of the GAO can be viewed here.

The following is the text of Eshoo’s letter to the FCC:

July 29, 2014

The Honorable Tom Wheeler, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 Twelfth Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554

Re: Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, GN Docket No. 14-28

Dear Chairman Wheeler,

As you seek comment on how to best protect and promote an open Internet, I’m writing to share the preliminary findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on “usage-based” broadband pricing, referred to by many as data caps.

In the midst of the net neutrality debate, there is a new threat to the free and open Internet and that is usage-based pricing which may include the throttling or slowing down of data speeds, overage fees and the exemption of some online services or applications from data caps. These new business models have left consumers wondering whether they will have to foot the bill and how much more it will be.

Ultimately, whether accessing the Internet through a mobile device or through a wired broadband connection at home, consumers have come to expect an experience that includes streaming high definition video, downloading music, and video conferencing with family and friends using the app or service of their choice. The GAO study sheds light on the effects of data caps, including the potential impact on “cord-cutters” and suggests that consumers may not be fully benefitting from lower-cost options under usage-based pricing.

I trust you will carefully review the GAO’s preliminary findings and I thank you in advance for considering this data as part of the reinstatement of strong, enforceable net neutrality rules.

Most gratefully,

Anna G. Eshoo
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Energy and Commerce Committee

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