AT&T decides against appeal, pays angry customer $935 in throttling case

AT&T decides against appeal, pays angry customer $935 in throttling case
The word throttled sounds violent and no one like to have their data speeds throttled by their carrier, especially after using just 2GB of data in a month. But that is what has occurred to some AT&T customers despite the carrier's insistence that it only turns the faucet handle on those in the top 5% of data users. Enter Matt Spacarelli. The AT&T customer decided to take the carrier to small claims court and back in February, won an $850 judgment against the carrier, plus $85 in court costs. The court ruled that AT&T violated its TOS.

The carrier had said it would appeal the verdict, but probably decided that it was too much of a PR disaster and decided to just pay Spacarelli $935 to end the case. The problem that happened here is not so much that a customer got throttled, but that it happened after using so little data. So AT&T is changing its throttling threshold. From now on, users can only be throttled if they used more than 3GB of data in a month and 4G LTE users can go up to 5GB without retribution. Of course, you still have to be among the top 5% of data users to, ahem, qualify for the throttling. Believe it or not, Spacarelli's phone is still being throttled as he had a .31 Mbps download speed on Saturday.

As for Matt Spacarelli, he is now using a newly purchased second Apple iPhone with a SIM card plugged in from reseller Straight Talk. He is now getting 3.83Mbps on AT&T's 3G network and paying just $45 a month for unlimited talk, text and data with no contract.

source: Mashable via Phandroid



26. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

The policy is no longer top 5% for throttling for users with unlimited data. An unlimited data user is now throttled at 3GB and 5GB for LTE phones. Plain and simple.

18. darktranquillity

Posts: 285; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

I dono why i get so happy when the network providers get rapped by courts.

17. Gwapoko

Posts: 4; Member since: Mar 17, 2012

Straighttalk has a programmed that can activate phones that are fr at&t,t-mobile or any GSM DOMESTIC UNLOCKED PHONES as long you will purchased Simcard fr them and the unlimited Service for 45 dollar plan

16. Gwapoko

Posts: 4; Member since: Mar 17, 2012

to be complacent about unlimited internet fr Straightalk they might deactivate ur service if u abusively used internet

15. insuusvenerati

Posts: 7; Member since: Sep 25, 2010

Remember when throttling first became a big deal the carriers claimed it was because of people abusing it for things like copyright infringement. Can we safely assume that they are working with the lobbyist and other media giants to put a stop to p2p? Discuss I say!!

14. InspectorGadget80 unregistered


10. livingmild

Posts: 15; Member since: Dec 24, 2009

I think At&t was being selfish. I'm an unlimited data customer as well. I wasn't tethering or anything like that and still managed to use 12 gigs every single month. I followed the rules At&t set and was still punished for using my unlimited plan how it was designed for me to use. It's really not that difficult to go over the 2 gig (now 3 gig) limit. I stream music and videos on my phone all day when I'm out or in the gym. I'm not even on the LTE network or I'm sure I'd use a lot more. At&t has 17 million unlimited data user compared to over 100 million customers.I'm sure that not all 17 million unlimited users consume as much data as I do. They should honor the contract for those of us who use their phone legitimately and throttle those who don't or even cancel their unlimited plan altogether for that matter. In my opinion it's all about At&t's bottomline, not their network.

19. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

The thing is, it WASN'T designed for your use. When the unlimited data plans first came out, it would take a lot of effort for a customer to use more than 2GB of data in a month, because most data was used for -tada- emailing for business, the original purpose for smartphones. However, since the debut of touchscreen internet-friendly smartphones (like the original Android G1 and DROID), the web has shifted to a stronger and more heavily used mobile base, and content providers have realigned their content to also cater to folks on the go. They don't care how much data you use, they just make the content available. The carriers, though, since it's their network, still have to give the millions of subscribers a roughly equivalent experience and make enough money to keep the very expensive network running smoothly for all, and folks using the plans for what they weren't designed for does create negative repercussions throughout their area, much like how one person in a neighborhood using a lot of bandwidth for cable modem will degrade the speed and quality of the internet connection from the same provider for those running off the same box. I'm personally in favor of a "pay to play" setup for a wireless network. If a person wants to watch movies and stuff on the go, they should either get a portable TV or DVD player or use a radio, or sideload their media on their portable device and watch it there, at least until wireless carriers have the bandwidth and capability to provide more and faster data connections (i.e. LTE Advanced). By then it seems we'll have much larger data plans available, on a fair "pay to play" basis, and the paying is either for speed (like for land-based internet) or for capacity (like current wireless). It's entirely possible in a few years the 2 and 3 GB plans we're comfortable with now will be the cheap baseline plan, and 50 or 100 or more GB plans would be the norm, and priced accordingly. Yes, the carriers want to make money, and while the number of folks on the unlimited plan contines to decline, the holdouts will just have to accept that they're holding on to an outdated feature not designed for the current wireless landscape. At least AT&T lets customers keep their unlimited plans when upgrading or switching smartphones, and doesn't require a switch to a capped plan.

20. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Keep in mind that cell phones are still a luxury, and you're only entitled to what the service provider decides to offer within their legal limits. If all the U.S. carriers decided everyone should now be paying $1000 per month per line, they could do so, but they'd only have a few customers left. The industry is very competitive, and will continue to be so, and if you want something to change, contact the carrier and submit your ideas to how the services could be improved, and have your friends and family do the same, and if they don't seem to listen, put your money with a carrier that does. Grassroots movements are very powerful, and the best way to get what you want is letting the facilitator of what it is you want know specifically what they should and could be providing

25. gameday78

Posts: 48; Member since: Mar 17, 2012

here are some stats from att historical data sheets... 2006 avg consumer monthly data use... 4.6 mb (mostly email) 2007 avg consumer monthly data use... 18.3 mb (first iphone year) 2008 avg consumer monthly data use... 34.1 mb (iphone 3g) 2009 avg consumer monthly.... 87.9 mb 2010 avg ...... 220.8mb (iphone4 plus android) 2011 avg (i added up all 4 reports myself) 475.5 mb (iphone 4s android, windows phones) Bottom line is those are from the the fact sheets from their earnings statements and each year the useage more then doubles so when att dumped the unlimited data plans early in 2010 the usage was just under 100 mbs a month. Now that people are using 2gb or 3gb or 12gb can u see why they might be trying to change things. what business can survive that kind of increase? If you owned a place that offered 1 gallon of gas for a $1.00 in 2010 and now had to offer the same value would u be willing to give 4 or 5 gallons for that same $1.00? or what about if someone wanted/used 12 gallons but still u could only charge him a buck how long would u stay in business? who would have thought that back in 2007 when they offered unlimited data that it would explode so much.

8. Carlitos

Posts: 706; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Maybe its not the carrier anymore maybe its just the iphone he is getting.

24. gameday78

Posts: 48; Member since: Mar 17, 2012

Apple is the reason why all these rules are in place, they have cried and wined so much that the whole indrustry has changed to fit what they want! look at sprint, they dumped their 4g wimax service because apple refused to offer them the iphone till they went with LTE. so sprint changed and lost billions to get the iphone.

7. AbsentbebniM

Posts: 21; Member since: Feb 09, 2012

I'm still undecided on this one. I do agree that AT&T violated their TOS in regard to the throttling, but he has also admitted to tethering (cabled or as a hotspot? I don't know) other devices... which means he was also violating his contract since he did not purchase a tethering plan. I want to root for the consumer, I really do, but feel the whole thing should've been a wash in regard to money, as neither party was fully acting with the agreed terms.

6. gameday78

Posts: 48; Member since: Mar 17, 2012

If he is using and Iphone on Straight talk then he has unlocked it and is tech breaking the contract! Att can now tech take him to court in violation for that and if he keeps doing these things he is going to open him self up to a lawsuit for breaking the terms and conditions of his aggrement. Part of the settlement was the payment for change from his 30.00 unlimited to the 50.00 5gb plan for the remainder of his contract and back price increses since day one.

13. insuusvenerati

Posts: 7; Member since: Sep 25, 2010

That has got to be the dumbest comment in all of internet history. Congratulations!

22. gameday78

Posts: 48; Member since: Mar 17, 2012

How so, when u buy a phone from ATT under contract u sign a contract and agree to use it on att and none other. when u remove it and use it on another carrier they have the right to find u in breach of ur contract and cancel service or hold u in account of it. Plus buying an iphone u agree to apple's term of service which part of it states that u will not remove it from att's service (or which ever service u buy it from) and use it on another. Kinda like when the iphone 3g came out and some people took it to t-mobile and when they went to update the software Apple would reBrick their phones so they could not use them. When some consumers took apple to court it was found that Apple had all right because when they got the phone they signed a contract and agreed not to do that.

21. Jarahawk

Posts: 43; Member since: Dec 04, 2011

Straight Talk is no contract.

23. gameday78

Posts: 48; Member since: Mar 17, 2012

I know but that iphone he has on straight talk was most likely not bought at an apple store or at full price so i'm sure he has a contract he signed where it states he would not remove it from ATT's network. I'm sure that after all thats gone on Att is watching him now very closely...

27. Virile

Posts: 38; Member since: Mar 01, 2012

If you read the article "As for Matt Spacarelli, he is now using a newly purchased second Apple iPhone" he tech isnt breaking any contract.

5. k1ng617

Posts: 270; Member since: Oct 13, 2009

How long do you think it really was? If I'm not mistaken, small claims courts are heard and ruled on in one sitting. Plus, I bet he's a large reason why AT&T decided to put a hard bottom on data before throttling. Because, he was offering to help others do the exact same thing he did with minimal effort and no charge. Cheers to Matt!

4. VinCrel

Posts: 39; Member since: Dec 26, 2011

For me, it will not be about the money .. It will be for the other customers from all carriers that do not have the courage to stand up against those big corporations while they put their policies in your face and you can't do nothing about it.. You sign a contract for unlimited internet and while in the middle of the first year, they suddenly thought, hey, let's put a cap on internet accounts .. now you have overages, lots of hard-earned money down the drain and they'll say, read the fine print in your account for the terms and condtions.. No sir, this is not definitely about the money. This is just being fair. Just saying..

3. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Wait, "Straight Talk"? Isn't that the outfit out of Wal-Mart?

11. Das70

Posts: 124; Member since: Jan 05, 2011

Yes. So what. It uses AT&T service. Good deal if you ask me.

12. dodo1234

Posts: 40; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

U have to buy one of their off contract smart phones with an unlocked sim card which does use AT&Ts network. Those phones cost around $200.

2. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

This is good... sets a precedent that favors the consumer more as far as throttling goes.

1. Mandroid

Posts: 209; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

I'm not saying he was wrong to sue, but FFS is $900 really worth a long court battle? Can one put a price on their time?

9. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

Doesn't sound like a waste of time to me. I don't think he did it for the money. If more people stood up for their rights, these companies wouldn't get away with so much.

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