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Federal Communications Chair Tom Wheeler has said that the FCC will most likely address net neutrality violations one at a time, now that a federal court has ruled that it couldn't use the blanket enforcement it had on the books. The FCC might just have its chance to take on the first violation. Though Verizon denies purposefully slowing service for Amazon on Netflix on its FiOS network, there's allegations to the contrary.
On Wednesday, a Texas man named David Raphael wrote on his blog that Verizon was intentionally throttling Netflix subscribers and other Internet users who rely on Amazon's cloud computing service. Verizon quickly denied the complaint, saying it continues to treat all traffic equally.
Raphael, a software engineer for the cloud-based security firm iScan Online, said he was first alerted to the problem on Jan. 26 when the president of his company complained of "major slowdowns" while using iScan remotely. After determining that nothing was amiss with iScan's product, Raphael returned home to find that his own connection to Amazon Web Services—on which iScan runs—had been degraded.
Connections to AWS were limited to 40 kBps, Raphael said—about 240 times slower than the 75 Mbps fiber optic connection Raphael was paying for. Raphael discovered that even content hosted on AWS by others, including Netflix, was also slower.
The slowdowns only occurred on Raphael's and his boss's home networks on FiOS; he couldn't replicate the problems on their work network. He contacted Verizon and captured this bit of chat he had with the customer service representative, who said that the company was "limiting bandwidth to cloud providers."
Now, as Brian Fung says in this article, you can't take the customer service representative's word at face value: would this person be privy to decisions the company had made if it was deliberating limiting bandwidth to certain traffic? Verizon says it's investigating, and that this employee was misinformed. They insist that they continue to follow the principles of net neutrality.
At the very least, the FCC needs to be on the lookout for more reports from FiOS customers. But to truly be proactive, Wheeler needs to look into these allegations. And while he's at it, he should think very seriously about reclassifying Internet Service Providers at utilities that the FCC can more directly regulate.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:32 PM PST.