Back in August, I wrote a bit about Charter/Spectrum petitioning the FCC to drop a condition of the Time Warner/Charter/Bright House merger. The merger happened in 2016, and in it Charter agreed to not impose data caps or overage fees on consumers before May of 2023.
In the petition to drop this condition, Charter/Spectrum made the interesting claim that consumers like data caps. From Charter’s initial filing with the FCC:
[T]he marketplace currently shows that broadband service plans incorporating data caps or other usage-based pricing mechanisms are often popular when the limits are sufficiently high to satisfy the vast majority of users.
Of course, Charter does not say if users in these marketplaces had the opportunity to get comparable internet speeds and prices without data caps.
If you’re interested in more details about this petition, you can read my original blog from August.
Good News from the FCC
You don’t have to, though, since the Charter officially rescinded it earlier this month!
With President Biden’s inauguration a few days ago, Ajit Pai – the former FCC Chairman – has officially left the FCC.
With this champion of deregulation gone, Charter likely felt that they wouldn’t be able to get their petition past the current FCC, so they withdrew the petition.
Dana Floberg, of the consumer advocacy group Free Press, probably put it best on Twitter:
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear that unlimited home broadband connections are a necessary utility service. The evidence from April through June, when most ISPs suspended their caps, demonstrates that ISP data caps and overage fees are completely unnecessary abuses of market power. All networks performed well while their operators continued to earn high profit margins, as usage skyrocketed.
It’s a small start, but a small victory is better than no victory!