Government Sues AT&T for Allegedly ‘Throttling’ Unlimited Data Customers

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The Federal Trade Commission has sued AT&T, alleging the telecommunications giant deceived smartphone customers who signed up for unlimited data but saw their mobile Internet speed reduced, by up to 95 percent in some cases, once they used a certain amount of data.

The Associated Press reported:

The Federal Trade Commission filed its complaint Tuesday against AT&T Mobility Inc., charging that the telecom company failed to adequately disclose to customers that it would reduce data speeds if they went over a certain amount of data use in a billing cycle. The practice, known as throttling, slowed Web browsing, GPS navigation or streaming videos.

The FTC says at least 3.5 million AT&T customers were affected. In addition, the FTC claims that consumers’ speeds were cut regardless of network congestion, AP says. The practice allegedly began in 2011, after AT&T stopped offering unlimited data to new customers.

“If you make a promise about unlimited service, we expect you to fulfill those promises,” FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said.

According to The New York Times, AT&T said the accusations are “baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program.” Wayne Watts, AT&T’s senior executive vice president and general counsel, denied misleading customers.

We informed all unlimited data plan customers via bill notices and a national news release that resulted in nearly 2,000 news stories, well before the program was implemented. In addition, this program has affected only about 3 percent of our customers, and before any customer is affected, they are also notified by text message.

The FTC says plenty of AT&T’s unlimited data customers are dissatisfied:

Thousands of customers have submitted written complaints concerning defendant’s throttling program to defendant, the Better Business Bureau, and government agencies. In addition, defendant has received more than 190,000 customer calls relating to its throttling program.

If you are an AT&T unlimited data customer, the FTC’s complaint will make interesting reading.

Have you been affected by the company’s alleged data throttling? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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