FTC Files Legal Charges against AT&T for Its Data Throttling Scheme

FTC Files Legal Charges against AT&T for Its Data Throttling SchemeThe US Federal Trade Commission wants mobile carriers to be more careful when selling ‘unlimited’ data plans. The agency wants wireless networks to really mean it when they use the word in their marketing collaterals.

The regulator has announced the filing legal charges against AT&T. It accuses the company of misleading its customers through charging them for so-called ‘unlimited’ data plans but with reduced data speeds by about 80% to 90%.

It filed the complaint before the US District Court in San Francisco. On its legal charge, FTC alleges that the company failed to properly and adequately provide warnings to its customers that its unlimited data plans don’t really mean unlimited access to high-speed data.

FTC’s case

FTC reiterates that AT&T has a promise to its customers that it would provide unlimited data. But it said that in many cases, the company fails to deliver on that commitment. FTC wants to simplify it by saying that unlimited should really mean unlimited.

The agency estimates that at least 3.5 million customers have been affected by AT&T’s throttling activities. It estimates that since the company launched its unlimited data plan in 2011, affected customers have been compromised for over 25 million times. Throttling is the term referring to the practice of drastically slowing down Internet speed once the user reaches the limit allocated for him/her within a billing period.

AT&T’s defense

For its part, AT&T said this allegation is simply ‘baseless.’ The company asserts that it has always been transparent especially about its data throttling practices. It reiterated that
its transparency even began in 2011 when it started offering the unlimited plans.

AT&T maintains that it has been informing all its unlimited data plan subscribers about bill notices. It said that it even launched a national press release leading to up to 2,000 news stories about it before the unlimited program was even implemented in 2011.

AT&T also claims that the throttling program affects only 3% of all its customers. It even said that before a customer is subjected to throttling, he gets a notification through SMS. 

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About the author

Justin focuses on tech and internet news.