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WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission sent letters urging AT&T and Verizon to explain why their programs favoring affiliated video services do not violate the agency’s Net Neutrality rules, which protect internet users against unreasonable discrimination by broadband providers.

In the letter to AT&T, the FCC’s Wireless Bureau wrote that the communications giant’s response to an earlier FCC letter did not alleviate serious concerns about “zero-rating” of DirecTV video-streaming. The letter to Verizon expressed similar concerns with regard to the company’s FreeBee Data 360 service.

The Wireless Bureau wrote that the agency has “reached the preliminary conclusion that these practices inhibit competition, harm consumers, and interfere with the ‘virtuous cycle’ needed to assure the continuing benefits of the open internet.” The agency asked both carriers to respond to the letters by Dec. 15.

Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:

“We’re glad that the FCC continues to raise concerns about these companies’ self-dealing exemptions. AT&T and Verizon impose arbitrary data caps and overcharges on most of their customers. This scheme gives these two carriers the leverage to favor their own video products and services and dress up double-charging as a discount. The money flows from one pocket to another within each of these giant corporations. That way, AT&T can keep people tied to the DirecTV content it bought last year, harming video choice and broadband competition while pretending that this is some kind of free lunch for its customers.”

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