Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  chair Jessica Rosenworcel (pictured) sought backing for a formal notice of inquiry into whether data caps imposed by broadband providers hamper consumers’ access to services or otherwise harm competition.

In a statement, the FCC explained Rosenworcel is asking other commissioners to back an inquiry into whether regulatory action is required to ensure access to fixed and mobile broadband services, and whether the agency has the authority to take action over data caps.

The FCC is also concerned with why caps still exist given many providers have the capacity to offer unlimited services.

Rosenworcel is a long-term advocate of broad availability of internet access and closing the digital divide in the US.

She stated it is “time the FCC take a fresh look” at the impact of data caps, noting internet access is not a “nice-to-have” anymore, rather a “need-to-have for everyone”.

The FCC noted many ISPs dropped data caps during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, as broadband access became increasingly important during the health crisis, in particular for home working and schooling.

In addition to pressing for an inquiry, the FCC launched a consumer portal to gather information on the impact of data caps on their internet usage.