GAO Report Highlights Problems With Data Caps
GAO Report Highlights Problems With Data Caps
GAO Report Highlights Problems With Data Caps

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    Today, in response to a request from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, the GAO released a report on the impact and perception of broadband data caps. The report follows a series of studies commissioned by Public Knowledge on consumer perceptions of broadband service. Reviewed together, these reports show that consumers are skeptical of broadband providers’ use of caps in a market where it’s increasingly difficult to change providers.

    The following can be attributed to Michael Weinberg, Vice President of Public Knowledge:

    “This report is further evidence that today’s data caps work against the best interests of consumers and the growth of the internet. Consumers and ISPs alike are unable to reliably determine which online activities are data-intensive or how much data a given activity will require. It’s no surprise that consumers doubt their ability to accurately track their own data usage when ISP estimates of data requirements for standard activities vary by a factor of five. In fact, the only thing customers agree on is that ISPs are likely to use data caps to increase their bills.

    “The report also highlights that today’s data caps are not truly about consumer choice. Few customers have adopted offerings of small discounts in exchange for restrictive data caps. At the same time, ISPs are steadily moving away from the one option that the report found consumers consistently demand – unlimited data plans.

    “By creating a disincentive to adopt distance education, teleworking, online video, and even security updates, data caps also work to undermine the virtuous cycle that the FCC has described as the heart of the Open Internet proceeding. Public Knowledge thanks Representative Eshoo and the GAO for shedding additional light on data caps, and hopes the FCC will move quickly to adopt strong Open Internet rules that prevent all types of discrimination, including discrimination instigated by data caps.”

    Main page scroller image credit: Flickr user Don Hankins

    Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at shiva@publicknowledge.org or 405-249-9435.