Is ‘Pokemon Go’ catching all your monthly data? Congress wants to know.


Three House lawmakers have written to the chief executive of Niantic Inc. questioning the effect of the company’s blockbuster “Pokemon Go” app on consumers’ mobile data usage.

“Users have reported maxing out their their monthly data usage plans within a week of playing and have complained of eating through an entire family plan within a few days,” wrote Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Jan Scachowsky (D-Ill.).

“We seek your assistance in understanding how Niantic ensures that consumers are aware of the game’s potential mobile data usage,” they said in their letter to the company’s chief executive, John Hanke, which was made public Wednesday.


The three Democrats are all senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the telecommunications industry.

Third-party testing had found the typical “Pokemon Go” player consumed 10 to 20 megabytes of data for each hour of play, the letter said. And a “serious user” could consume 2 gigabytes of data per month.

The lawmakers asked Hanke if Niantic “conspicuously warns consumers” before they start using the augmented reality app about how much data it uses.

They also wanted to know if the company takes steps to minimize the amount of data used by game players, if it works with wireless carriers to ensure consumers “are not unexpectedly hit with large overage charges” and what mechanisms are in place to compensate people who are hit with such charges.

“While ‘Pokemon Go’ has been highly successful, the game has raised concerns,” the lawmakers said.

Niantic did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

The app, released on July 5, has become a nationwide craze as people try to catch Pokemon in everyday locations.


Several websites offer tips to “Pokemon Go” users to reduce their data usage, such as playing only in areas with Wi-Fi and setting a data limit.

Last week, T-Mobile offered one year of free unlimited data for the app to customers who sign up for its T-Mobile Tuesdays promotion.

T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere tweeted on July 12 that the number of active players on its network had doubled over the previous four days and their data usage had quadrupled.

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