AT&T fined $100 million for misleading customers about ‘unlimited’ data plans

“The FCC said that it is fining AT&T $100 million for misleading mobile customers about its “unlimited” data plans,” David Goldman reports for CNNMoney.

“AT&T subjected its unlimited data plan customers to significantly slower speeds after they used more than 3 GB of 3G data or 5 GB of 4G data in a single billing cycle. AT&T then failed to adequately notify its customers that their speeds would be throttled after they crossed a certain data threshold, the FCC said,” Goldman reports. “AT&T stopped offering unlimited data plans to new customers in 2009, but some customers have been grandfathered into the old plans. In 2011, AT&T instituted a ‘maximum bit rate’ policy, capping speeds at about a half megabit per second for heavy data users (compared to around 15 Mbps to 20 Mbps for typical 4G download speeds, the same as a home broadband connection).”

“AT&T says it will fight the fine,” Goldman reports. “‘We will vigorously dispute the FCC’s assertions,’ said Emily Edmonds, spokeswoman for AT&T. ‘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.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: AT&T unlimited data customers, has your data been throttled?


As Apple’s iPhone launches, Verizon throttles bandwidth of top 5% of data hogs – February 3, 2011


  1. AT&T is the reason I didn’t get an iPhone until the iPhone 4. And I am professionally an Apple consultant.

    AT&T is the reason that the ampersand has been added to the alphabet – so that its name could be recognized for the 4-letter word it is. I will NEVER voluntarily do business with AT&T, and may they pass into history as soon as possible.

    1. That’s the irony. I think most people who have unlimited data plans are using less data than what would be available on a cheaper plan… plus tethering.

  2. MDN-

    Not tech proficient enough to know if I have been throttled or not. How does one find out?

    But what I do know, as an iPhone early adopter on day one 2007, my unlimited plan has been grandfathered in.

    Been online to track my data usage for years and only once went over 3 GB one particular month while on an extended vacation.

    Got a call from an AT&T employee informing me if I continue to use over 3 GB my service speed would be slowed down.

    Mentioned I have an unlimited data plan and should not be penalized in speed for using it. Also reminded her, an AT&T customer since my first cell phone in the early 1990s.

    She went on with canned suggestions on how to use the phone more efficiently while cutting down data usage. For my benefit, or AT&T?

    Again, have no clue if I have been throttled. But clearly, this lawsuit has merit for some customers.

    If guilty — pay up …

  3. Yep – happened to me recently as well. Was throttled for the remainder of the current billing cycle as soon as I went over 5GB. Was pretty unusable as a result.

  4. Yes, AT&T throttles – more than that, AT&T disables hotspot features for customers with the grandfathered plans.

    In essence, what AT&T is telling me is – “find a different carrier” instead of “let’s switch you to a ‘better’ plan” – I’m already close to having Verizon or t-mobile lined up, now that the iPhone 6 (and beyond) are finally true carrier agnostic world phones.

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