AT&T gets slapped with $100 million fine for unlimited data throttling



AT&T seems to have ended up on the FCC’s naughty list. The company has been served with a $100 million fine for misleading unlimited data consumers. Specifically, the company didn’t adequately notify customers that their data would be slowed down to near-unusable speeds if they went over an unspecified threshold.

The FCC says that it’s a violation of 2010’s Open Internet Transparency Rule, a policy that states carriers must be accurate, truthful and upfront about the data services they provide. To be clear, it’s totally within AT&T’s rights to throttle unlimited data, but they also have to tell you that in plain language.

“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.”

FCC enforcement chief Travis LeBlanc also added: “Unlimited means unlimited. As today’s action demonstrates, the Commission is committed to holding accountable those broadband providers who fail to be fully transparent about data limits.”

So there you have it. AT&T’s probably never going to do away with their throttling policy for unlimited data users (especially since they’re trying to get everyone onto their Mobile Share plans), but at least the FCC is making sure they’re upfront about it.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I like it back when I had unlimited data with them this practice would infuriate me.

  2. Hahaha good night

  3. Great news

  4. So the customers get nothing? And they still get throttled? I don’t see how this is an acceptable solution. At least my Verizon unlimited had to give up throttling unlimited because of one of the deals they signed for one of their spectrum deals, although they still can throttle everyone if they want

    1. That may be why then. The spectrum they’re using comes with plans. If AT&T used this spectrum they would be under the same restrictions.

  5. I have always been under the assumption that when you buy into unlimited data, it is in fact unlimited data at full speed until you hit their threshold. Meaning, if someone screams UNLIMITED DATA up to 10gb/mo you were free to use whatever you wanted at full speed. When you hit that 10gb a month, you can still use as much data as you want, it’ll just be at a turtle pace. I have yet to see an unlimited plan that didn’t stipulate an upper gb/mb limit for full speed. Granted, I read the hell out of things like this that are too good to be true, and admittedly a lot of people don’t…. And I’m certainly not going to discount the companies that don’t mention it but instead choose to imply it. That’s the issue, than again, I thought that was largely done away with when people wised up to those BS shenanigans. Good on the FCC for calling the Deathstar out, but I can’t help but to think that there’s some level of 360 blame here.

    1. I’m on Tmo’s data plan. Unlimited, no throttling. It’s specified in their plan that there is no throttling.

      This is the definition of Power.

      1. Yep. That’s part of the reason I’ve been with T-Mobile for so damn long. Even in the early days when you had to pay for your data tier to a degree. They never throttled me once in 15 years, and frankly I killed bandwidth on a few occasions. I’ll never forget the month I used 37gb and not even a hiccup in speed.

    2. Read the source article… ATT is being fined because they did NOT tell consumers they’d be throttled after exceeding a certain limit. Verizon was not fined because they only throttle when there is network congestion, and they’ve always told consumers that.

      1. There was a short period for a few months where Verizon was going to begin throttling unlimited but the fcc basically cautioned them that if they did they have to throttled tiered customers as well or they’d be violating restrictions I believe it was 700mhz but I forget.

        There is no,truly unlimited no throttling for the tmo person, if there it’s network congestion everyone is throttled, but yes at least it’s fair that way so that’s how it should be done

      2. I did, and I said,

        “And I’m certainly not going to discount the companies that don’t mention it but instead choose to imply it. That’s the issue, than again, I thought that was largely done away with when people wised up to those BS shenanigans.”

        Of course AT&T screwed people, that’s been obvious for years hence my next statement,

        “Good on the FCC for calling the Deathstar out…” I then re-read both the article and my comment and I can’t find anywhere anyone mentioned Verizon, but hey.. There’s hope out there.

      3. Verizon can’t throttle LTE. They only do congestion throttling on 3G.

  6. Ha Ha

  7. Yup… I’m gonna leave AT&T

  8. I got the text message that I was close to getting throttled at just under 4 gigs of usage.

  9. I still have AT&T, still on the unlimited data plan. I’ve only been throttled a couple of times in 5 years, but when it happens it’s the worst.

    They changed their plan a few months back, now they’ll only throttle in congested data areas. Still, I’d like some of that $100 million…..

    1. Nice Avatar!


  10. That’s good for them….

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