FCC to Fine AT&T $100 Million for “Severely” Slowing Down Data Speeds



The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it plans to fine AT&T Mobility $100 million for misleading customers about its “unlimited” mobile data plans, imposing the agency’s largest proposed fine ever in alleging that the carrier “severely” slowed down the data speeds for customers with such plans.

AT&T failed to adequately notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised, the FCC said. AT&T’s actions also violated the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, commonly called net neutrality rules, the agency said.

If customers used more than 5 gigabytes of data for the month, the carrier slowed its data transmission speeds to levels that made using mobile apps difficult or impossible, the agency said. AT&T no longer sells unlimited plans to new customers, but those who subscribed to the plans when they were still in market can continue to claim their right to use as much data as they want.

With demand for mobile data exploding, wireless carriers have tightened access to their networks for heavy users as a way to manage traffic and boost revenue.

In recent years, they’ve introduced tier-pricing for varying levels of data allotments, charging higher fees for those who go over monthly limits. And for the carriers that still market “unlimited” data plans, cutting back on speeds after a certain amount of used data — a practice known as “throttling” — has become more common, though the practice typically comes with a consumer notice.

“We will vigorously dispute the FCC’s assertions,” AT&T said in a statement. “The FCC has specifically identified this practice as a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers, and has known for years that all of the major carriers use it. We have been fully transparent with our customers, providing notice in multiple ways and going well beyond the FCC’s disclosure requirements.”

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SOURCE: Roger Yu

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