GAO To Release Preliminary Data Cap Findings

The Government Accountability Office has completed at least its preliminary study of broadband data caps and their impact on consumer choice, innovation and competition.

That is according to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who asked for the study and who will present those preliminary findings next week.

Eshoo, who is ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee and represents Silicon Valley, said she asked for the report based on concerns that "discriminatory or arbitrary applications of "usage-based" broadband pricing, often referred to as data caps, could discourage innovation, competition and consumer choice on the Internet."

"As the FCC continues to seek comment on its proposed net neutrality rules, it's more important than ever that policymakers understand data caps and how they might enable broadband providers to circumvent open Internet rules that ensure consumers have uninhibited access to the Internet," Eshoo said in announcing a July 29 press conference to present those preliminary findings.

The FCC this week warned ISPs about adhering to FCC transparency rules that require them to publicize their network management practices, saying that was in part due to complaints over the past year about whether ISPs were being upfront about their data caps.

GAO conducted focus groups with consumers and interviewed stakeholders and consumer groups.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.