AT&T to pay a fine of $60 million for throttling ‘unlimited’ data plans
In Tuesday’s settlement, AT&T has agreed to pay a $60 million fine to resolve a 2014 lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission. FTC alleges that the company lied to customers about its “unlimited” data plans because it throttled their data if they ever went over a certain threshold as little as 2GB and never actually told those people what was happening, according to the FTC.
The settlement requires AT&T to deposit that $60 million into a fund that will be used to provide “partial refunds” to customers who signed up for unlimited data plans before the year 2011 (when the company’s throttling policy first went into effect).
The company is also barred from marketing plans off of their suggested speed or amount of data without disclosing any restrictions those plans may have.
In the summer of 2015, the Federal Communications Commission fined AT&T $100 million for similar deceptive marketing practices involving its data plans. According to the FCC, the agency received thousands of consumer complaints that led them to investigate the throttling allegations.
According to what FTC says,
“As part of the settlement, AT&T is prohibited from making any representation about the speed or amount of its mobile data, including that it is ‘unlimited,’ without disclosing any material restrictions on the speed or amount of data. The disclosures need to be prominent, not buried in fine print or hidden behind hyperlinks.”
AT&T did not respond to WIRED’s questions about whether the settlement will change the way it advertises its plans in the future. But the company reported that it's happy with the settlement.
"Even though it has been years since we applied this network management tool in the way described by the FTC, we believe this is in the best interests of consumers," AT&T said in a statement.