The Federal Trade Commission has sued AT&T for what the government claims is due to AT&T’s throttling (intentionally slowing down) of customers who have unlimited data plans. This is the first lawsuit of this kind by the FTC and it will more than likely cause ripples in the mobile industry.
What is throttling?
Throttling is the intentional slowing of a data service by an Internet Service Provider. In this specific case, the FTC claims AT&T has deceived millions of its customers by slowing down their data speeds after they’ve used up a certain amount of data in a single month (as little as 2gb per billing month). This throttling would cause customers’ GPS, viewing or streaming of videos/movies, listening to music and other activities difficult or nearly impossible to do.
AT&T has grandfathered millions of customers with an unlimited data package, which in theory means you have unlimited data on your smartphone or tablet, which customers typically pay $30/month. “The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. The FTC posted a tweet today warning other carriers as well:
Am I Affected?
According to the FTC, anyone who has had unlimited data plans with AT&T since 2010 or earlier could be affected. AT&T has responded to the allegations by stating, “the FTC’s allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program… 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.”
AT&T recently had to pay a $105 million settlement earlier this month for cramming allegations. If you feel you’ve been a victim of AT&T’s cramming, you can sign up for a refund on the Federal Trade Commission’s website here.
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