Mobile phones are a freaking wonder. You can do practically anything with one — except, apparently, load streaming video at full tilt. The future that net neutrality advocates warned against may be in sight.
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This week, Bloomberg reported that wireless carriers are targeting certain websites and apps by throttling how quickly they can load. According to data collected through the speed-monitoring app Wehe, customers saw significant slowdowns in services like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and ESPN Sports. Net neutrality is the idea that every bit of data transmitted over the internet should travel at the same speed, without any "tolls." When the Federal Communications Commission rolled back provisions enforcing net neutrality earlier this summer, telecommunications companies became free to charge differing rates or offer different services for different kinds of online content.
So far, the web hasn't become a race to the bottom for internet service providers, but watchdogs worry that this could be a test case to open the floodgates. For their part, the telecom companies are calling Wehe's data (and the app's methodology) into question. "We do not automatically throttle any customers," one Verizon spokesman told Bloomberg. "To manage traffic on our network, we implement network management, which is significantly different than blanket throttling."
If you want to check your phone's service for yourself, consider downloading Wehe. It's available for both iOS and Android devices, and it may soon become consumers' go-to method for making sure they get what they pay for on their phone bill each month.