Data caps have turned into a huge profit center for internet service providers. Now FCC Chairwomen Rosenworcel wants to investigate these data caps. Depending on how this investigation workout, it may result in new rules on how internet service providers can impose data caps.
In particular, the FCC would like to better understand the current state of data caps, their impact on consumers, and whether the Commission should consider taking action to ensure that data caps do not cause harm to competition or consumers’ ability to access broadband Internet services.
If you want to help the investigation, the FCC has opened a new portal for consumers to share how data caps have affected them here: fcc.gov/datacapstories. By sharing your data cap stories, you can help the FCC better understand their impacts.
“Internet access is no longer nice-to-have, but need-to-have for everyone, everywhere. As we emerge from the pandemic, there are many lessons to learn about what worked and what didn’t work, especially around what it takes to keep us all connected,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “When we need access to the internet, we aren’t thinking about how much data it takes to complete a task, we just know it needs to get done. It’s time the FCC take a fresh look at how data caps impact consumers and competition.”
Specifically, the Notice of Inquiry would:
- Seek comment to better understand why the use of data caps continues to persist despite increased broadband needs of consumers and providers’ demonstrated technical ability to offer unlimited data plans;
- Seek comment on current trends in consumer data usage;
- Seek comment on the impact of data caps on consumers, consumers’ experience with data caps, how consumers are informed about data caps on service offerings, and how data caps impact competition; and
- Ask about the Commission’s legal authority to take actions regarding data caps.
We will have to wait and see how this plays out. What we have learned is that investigations like this take a long time before they become rules that could, in this case, stop data caps.