Editor in Chief
- Dec 30, 2010
- Reaction score
- Austin, TX
It seems the United States Federal Trade Commission takes a stand stating "‘unlimited’ means unlimited." They finally decided to put their foot down on some of the sneaky ways that US carriers have been hampering Unlimited Data customers. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez is accusing AT&T of deceptive advertising and violation of the FTC Act because they throttled 3.5 Million customers who signed up for "unlimited plans."
In a press statement, Ramirez specifically said,
AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise. The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited.
The main compliant is that AT&T' failed to inform customers that their "unlimited data" could be "throttled." A few customers even had their data speeds cut by up to 90 percent. Here's another quote with more of the details,
According to the Commission's research, AT&T has throttled approximately 3.5 million customers on more than 25 million individual occasions since implementing the system in 2011. AT&T no longer offers unlimited data to new customers, but many users avoid signing new service contracts (and receiving lucrative subsidies on new phones) in order to maintain their unlimited status. AT&T's official stated policy is that unlimited data users will see reduced speeds after using 3GB of data on 3G, or 5GB of data on LTE, in a single billing cycle. Before March of 2012, the vague policy affected only "the top 5% of users," and individual users had no way of knowing when or if they had hit a limit.
Despite various communications directly to the technology press, the FTC says that AT&T violated the Act when it failed to inform users that their unlimited lines were in fact severely limited in speed in some situations, even as these customers renewed their contracts and bought new, discounted phones (which was an option for a while). The Commission says that aggressive data throttling often reduced speeds for individual users by 80-90%, making it difficult to use even basic services like GPS navigation. While not accusing AT&T directly, the FTC notes that customers considered this a "bait and switch" tactic, and some customers were charged early termination fees after leaving AT&T due to poor service, without being told that the terms of their contract had been changed. ~ AndroidPolice
What's interesting about this case is what sort of precedent it might set. The other carriers could be just as culpable as AT&T. Will the FTC go after Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint next? Will this open a door allowing them to go after cable companies for throttling users. Ultimately, it will come down to whether or not customers were adequately informed by the company of any throttling issues. Regardless, it's great to see someone calling out these companies for their heavy abuse of the word "unlimited."
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