At&T is facing one of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) largest fines ever charged for misleading customers. The agency states AT&T slowed down their customer’s data speeds considerably on the ‘unlimited’ mobile data plans. AT&T did not advise customers they would be receiving slower speeds than the normal network speeds advertised. This is in violation of the FCC;s 2010 Open Internet Order .
The Open Internet Order is rules to regulate telecom service providers. AT&T slowed data transmissions on customers who used more than five gigabytes in a month. This slow down caused mobile apps impossible or very difficult to use. AT&T no longer offers ‘unlimited’ data plans to customers, but there are still plans in place that had been granted earlier. The mobile data demand is increasing rapidly causing wireless carriers to tighten access. When they are able to control access to the heavier users it allows them to boost revenue and manage traffic more efficiently.
Zeca Oliveira speaks to the fine explaining that AT&T now has a tier-pricing policy for data allotments and is able to charge customers extra if they use more than the data for the tier they’ve purchased. The practice of cutting back on speeds for ‘unlimited’ package customers is called, Throttling. The practice of ‘throttling’ has become more common; however the carrier must notify the consumer of such action.
AT&T is disputing the allegation from the FCC as they state this practice was deemed reasonable and legitimate by them. They further state they have disclosed the practice to the consumer in various ways and feel they have gone beyond the FCC’s requirements of disclosure.