FCC to Fine AT&T $100 Million Over Unlimited Data Plan Throttling

FCC to Fine AT&T $100 Million Over Unlimited Data Plan Throttling

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The Federal Communications Commission has announced that it plans to fine AT&T $100 million for misleading its customers about unlimited mobile data plans.

The FCC’s investigation alleges that AT&T severely slowed down the data speeds for customers with unlimited data plans and that the company failed to adequately notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised.

AT&T began offering unlimited data plans in 2007, allowing customers to use unrestricted amounts of data. Although the company no longer offers unlimited plans to new customers, it allows current unlimited customers to renew their plans and has sold millions of existing unlimited customers new term contracts for data plans that continue to be labeled as “unlimited”.

In 2011, AT&T implemented a “Maximum Bit Rate” policy and capped the maximum data speeds for unlimited customers after they used a set amount of data within a billing cycle. The capped speeds were much slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised and significantly impaired the ability of AT&T customers to access the Internet or use data applications for the remainder of the billing cycle.

The Commission charges AT&T with violating the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule by falsely labeling these plans as “unlimited” and by failing to sufficiently inform customers of the maximum speed they would receive under the Maximum Bit Rate policy. “Consumers deserve to get what they pay for,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “Broadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide. The FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.”

“Unlimited means unlimited,” said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “As today’s action demonstrates, the Commission is committed to holding accountable those broadband providers who fail to be fully transparent about data limits.” Since 2011, the Commission has received thousands of complaints from AT&T’s unlimited data plan customers stating that they were surprised and felt misled by AT&T’s policy of intentionally reducing their speeds. Consumers also complained about being locked into a long-term AT&T contract, subject to early termination fees, for an unlimited data plan that wasn’t actually unlimited.

The Enforcement Bureau’s investigation revealed that millions of AT&T customers were affected. The customers who were subject to speed reductions were slowed for an average of 12 days per billing cycle, significantly impeding their ability to use common data applications such as GPS mapping or streaming video.

In today’s action, the Commission found that the notice provided to unlimited data plan customers about the Maximum Bit Rate policy was not sufficient to enable AT&T customers to make informed decisions about their data plans.

FCC to Fine AT&T $100 Million Over Unlimited Data Plan Throttling

JHernandez - June 22, 2015 at 11:39pm
Wow i have that problem start 5 years ago
Josh van Hulst - June 18, 2015 at 8:05pm
I just good AT&T doesn't force customers off the unlimited data plan altogether and force customers on their Mobile Share plans that they have been pushing so hard on
Ellen - June 18, 2015 at 6:43pm
Says in paper today that notice was given out to customers warning about lower speeds if using more tha a certain amount. If that was the case it must have been in the tiny print which I cannot see.. I signed up for unlimited with the 1st IPhone when that was pretty standard. I think a deal is a deal. I hardly use lot but I don't want to take a chance that if I give it up and sign up for a new contract it's will always change on me.I pay a lot of $ as it is. I feel "nickeled and dimed" all the time and by the time fees and taxes are added it really gets more expensive. If I should be away and use more data I think ATT SHOULD NOT slow it down. As it is one of my children goes over her data limit almost every month. I can't give her more without giving up my unlimited data so I just pay it. We have tried to find ways to get it lower and so far nothing helps. I don't want to be micromanaged for everything I do. I'm tired of it. When I got my first IPhone there was no indication I'd be micromanaged in the future. Why does ATT need more money from individuals?
Steve2015 - June 18, 2015 at 1:58pm
$100 million fine is one thing, where is the requirement for them to change? Unlimited means unlimited, period. No caps, no throttling. There should be an action plan that they will continue to be fined $100 million every 6 months until they can prove that they are no longer impacting the unlimited subscribers.
Lolwut - June 18, 2015 at 3:34am
I always been with tmobile! Thank god for them and breaking the truth on att! I was about to pick them until I noticed the game changing ownage they got! That's what I call T-boned! I often have trouble with att connections but never with tmobile, abolished overages weren't a lie when tmobile did get rid of them, best yet is the lte speed!
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