AT&T Hit With $100 Million Fine For Data Throttling

Business / Mobile

Filed under “score another one for the lawyers”, the Federal Communications Commission has decided to sue AT&T for promising unlimited data to customers, then throttling their data speeds.

Originally offered between 2007 and 2011, the plans boasted of unlimited data use. However, AT&T implemented a “Maximum Bit Rate” where speeds were greatly reduced once a customer hit 5 gigabytes of data usage. The reduced speeds were much slower than what AT&T was advertising, so naturally the FCC received thousands of complaints from disgruntled consumers.

According to,

Those customers were hit by slow speeds for an average of 12 days per billing cycle, according to the FCC. AT&T’s customers also complained about being locked into two year contracts with throttled data and the consequences of an early termination fee.

Like most wireless carriers, AT&T no longer offers the unlimited data plans, but rely instead on tiered data plans to help counter the abundance of video and music streaming. There are still consumers who are “grandfathered” in under the old plans.

There are a few carriers that still offer unlimited data, but throttle speeds after a certain amount of data is used; in those cases a notice is sent to the customer. Virgin Mobile is one carrier that still offers unlimited data but throttles speeds after 2.5GB. T-Mobile also offers unlimited options but is very specific about when speeds are throttled.

Of course AT&T denies the FCC’s charges, claiming that it was very transparent with it’s customers, providing several different notices about the speed throttling. AT&T has 30 days to respond to the FCC’s suit, and after receiving AT&T’s response the FCC will make a final decision.

If the $100 million fine sticks, it will be interesting to see how little of that actually goes to the consumers affected. Usually in situations like this the consumer is offered a very small amount, while the lawyers laugh all the way to the bank.

How about you? Were you ever hit with AT&T’s data throttling? Are you still grandfathered with unlimited data? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook!

  Source: Forbes
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