The FTC announced that it has filed suit against AT&T in regards to its throttling of data (sometimes up to 90 percent) on unlimited data accounts.
Currently, AT&T mobile subscribers with unlimited data plans have their mobile connection throttled after they’ve reached a certain amount of data during a billing cycle. The FTC says that AT&T has misled those customers.
The FTC’s complaint alleges that the company failed to adequately disclose to its customers on unlimited data plans that, if they reach a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T reduces – or “throttles” – their data speeds to the point that many common mobile phone applications – like web browsing, GPS navigation and watching streaming video – become difficult or nearly impossible to use.
In its post, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, “The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited.” In other words, if you’re told you’re supposed to be getting unlimited data, that actually means unlimited without restriction.
According to the FTC, AT&T has throttled 3.5 unique million customers 25 million times and the carrier has received thousands of complaints concerning the scaling back of network access.
The complaint charges that AT&T violated the FTC Act by changing the terms of customers’ unlimited data plans while those customers were still under contract, and by failing to adequately disclose the nature of the throttling program to consumers who renewed their unlimited data plans.
AT&T began throttling the connection of unlimited data subscribers in 2011.
AT&T sent TNW the following statement from its Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Wayne Watts:
The FTC’s allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program. It’s baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts.
We have been completely transparent with customers since the very beginning. We informed all unlimited data-plan customers via bill notices and a national press release that resulted in nearly 2,000 news stories, well before the program was implemented. In addition, this program has affected only about 3% of our customers, and before any customer is affected, they are also notified by text message.
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