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The Switchboard: FCC calls Verizon’s new data throttling plan a ‘disturbing’ development

U.S. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before the House Communications and Technology panel on Capitol Hill in Washington December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Published every weekday, the Switchboard is your morning helping of hand-picked stories from the Switch team.

U.S. cellphone users frequent victims of 'cramming': Senate study. Reuters reports: "U.S. mobile phone users have likely paid hundreds of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges "crammed" onto their bills, according to a report released by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday to coincide with a hearing on the topic."

Sprint will sell a $12 wireless plan that only connects to Facebook or Twitter. "The plan, offered under the company’s Virgin Mobile brand of prepaid service, comes as wireless carriers are experimenting with ways to make wireless Internet access more affordable for the poorest consumers by offering special deals on slices of the Web," according to the Wall Street Journal. "In the process, however, they are testing the long-held principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally by creating strong incentives for subscribers to use already dominant services."

Verizon's slowing down data for some of its heaviest users. And the FCC is calling them on it. "The Federal Communications Commission has sent a strongly worded letter to Verizon warning that changes in the way it handles mobile Internet traffic may violate federal regulations," I write. "More broadly, the letter by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is the latest sign that the commission is considering applying its new net neutrality rules to wireless carriers."

T-Mobile adds 1.5 million more customers, swings to profit on spectrum sale. "T-Mobile said Thursday that it added a further 1.5 million customers to its network in the second quarter, adding more than a million customers for the fifth straight quarter," Re/code reports. "The company posted a net profit of $391 million, or 48 cents per share, thanks in large part to a $731 million gain from a spectrum license deal with Verizon."

The NSA's cyber-king goes corporate. "Here's why Keith Alexander thinks he's worth a million dollars a month," reports Foreign Policy. "Alexander is believed to be the first ex-director of the NSA to file patents on technology that's directly related to the job he had in government."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecommunications and the Internet. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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