AT&T reaches settlement on suit that accused it of misleading unlimited plan subscribers

AT&T reaches settlement on suit that accused it of misleading unlimited plan subscribers
If you have a great memory, you might recall that back in 2014 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued AT&T claiming that the carrier had misled customers signed up for an unlimited data plan. The FTC said that by throttling the dataspeeds of unlimited customers who exceeded a certain monthly data cap, AT&T was being deceptive to these subscribers. Originally, AT&T was able to get the suit dismissed by claiming that the FTC had no jurisdiction over a common carrier. So the FCC fined AT&T $100 million (which was never made final, so no payment was ever made) for the undisclosed throttling. And last year a federal appeals court in San Francisco reinstated the FTC action against the wireless operator.

In May 2018, AT&T announced that it wanted to settle the charges with the FTC and on Friday Reuters reported that such a settlement has been reached. Both sides actually agreed to the deal on August 2nd but waited to the end of last week to make the announcement. A 90-day stay has been placed on the settlement to allow the FTC to review and vote on it. The dollar amount of the agreement was not disclosed.

These days, carriers include their monthly data caps with advertisements and on their websites. While the actual cap varies between the different wireless providers, they all note that dataspeeds could be throttled under certain conditions once their respective data caps are breached. Back in 2014, AT&T was selling mostly tiered data plans to subscribers but had a small number of grandfathered customers still on unlimited plans. AT&T wanted these customers to use no more than 3GB of data on 3G devices and 5GB of data on 4G LTE devices over the course of a billing cycle. Customers who exceeded these caps saw their dataspeeds reduced by as much as 90%. But at the time that these customers originally signed up for unlimited data, these restrictions were not mentioned to them by the carrier.

AT&T's current data cap for its unlimited data plans is 22GB. The fine print on the carrier's website says "Data Restrictions: After 22GB of data usage on a line in a billing cycle, for the remainder of the cycle AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds on that line during times of network congestion."

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