FTC sues AT&T over unlimited data throttling

The Federal Trade Commission is suing AT&T Mobility over data throttling on unlimited data plans. The Commission alleges that AT&T's practices regarding unlimited data were deceptive and unfair. The FTC believes that AT&T in some cases reduced unlimited data speeds after certain amounts by up to 90 percent.

The FTC's guiding principle is "unlimited means unlimited". This means that if a carrier offers you unlimited data, they shouldn't be able to throttle you if you exceed a certain amount of usage. The Commission points to AT&T's marketing materials, which heavily emphasize unlimited data.

It is alleged that AT&T began throttling data back in 2011, reducing speeds for customers after they had used 2GB of data in a billing period. The FTC also says that 3.5 million unique customers have been affected by AT&T's practices. AT&T, according to the complaint, received thousands of complaints from customers regarding slow data speeds, with some considering the throttling of unlimited plans a "bait and switch".

Do you think the FTC's case has merit? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Update: AT&T has reached out to us with a statement responding to the FCC's claims:

"The FTC's allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program. It's baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts."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. In addition, this program has affected only about 3% of our customers, and before any customer is affected, they are also notified by text message." -- Wayne Watts, Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel, AT&T

Source: FTC

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.