Verizon is abandoning a controversial policy that would have slowed down unlimited data customers during periods of heavy demand, the company confirmed Wednesday.
Verizon's restrictions would have only applied to customers on unlimited data plans and not to those on tiered plans with data caps or allowances — a decision that raised eyebrows at the Federal Communications Commission. The agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, said in a letter in July that he was troubled by the proposal and warned against using the term "network management" as "a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams." Verizon's critics say the move was aimed at pushing unlimited data customers onto more profitable tiered plans.
Now Verizon appears to be backing down amid the pressure from regulators.
"We’ve greatly valued the ongoing dialogue over the past several months concerning network optimization," the company said Wednesday, "and have decided not to move forward with the planned implementation of network optimization for 4G LTE customers on unlimited plans."
In response to Wheeler's letter, Verizon pointed to other wireless carriers with similar policies. But the FCC was unmoved.
"'All the kids do it' is something that never worked with me when I was growing up, and it didn't work for my kids," Wheeler told reporters in August.
The company's course correction comes as federal regulators weigh whether to apply new net neutrality rules to wireless carriers. But it's unclear whether Verizon's decision improves its chances of avoiding those regulations.
On Wednesday, Wheeler hailed Verizon's change of heart.
"I salute Verizon Wireless's decision," Wheeler said. "This is a responsible action and I commend Verizon's leadership on this issue."