FTC Sues AT&T for Promises of Unlimited Data

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sues AT&T Wireless for promising unlimited data plans to their customers while slowing down the mobile network speed in a practice known as data throttling. The customers who have surpassed a threshold of monthly data usage, determined by the AT&T, now complain that the company reduces speeds for the rest of the billing cycle, independent of the fact whether the network is too busy or not.

According to the FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the AT&T has misled its mobile customers by promising them unlimited data plans that were in reality not unlimited at all. The Chairwoman added that the diminished speeds often made browsing or GPS navigation “significantly slower or practically inoperable.” Millions of customers may have been affected by this problem.

According to the FTC complaint, the AT&T started slowing speeds for the unlimited data plan in 2011, thus receiving numerous complaints from the customers. More concretely, according to Evan Rose, a lead FTC attorney on this case, AT&T had nearly 14 million unlimited data customers when it started the practice of data throttling in 2011. Since then, nearly 3.5 million of those customers have had their data connections throttled by the company at some point. The practice is still in use today.

As a response to the FTC claim, AT&T sent an email to the FTC, asserting that only 3% of its customers are affected by the practice of data throttling and that they are informed about it beforehand by text messages. Hence, the AT&T declares that the FTC’s claims are “baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of their network management program…”

Usually, companies practice data throttling in the event of network congestion. However, they should inform their customers in advance about possible problems that may arise due to busy networks.

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