FTC Sues AT&T Over Throttling Practices

Posted by at 12:30 pm on October 29, 2014

FTC LogoThe U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against AT&T alleging the company has deceived consumers by throttling the speeds of subscribers to its unlimited plan.

AT&T has throttled wireless speeds since 2011, but the FTC says it hasn’t properly informed customers about the parameters that trigger it. According to the FTC, AT&T has slowed down broadband speeds of 3.5 million subscribers a total of 25 million times. Subscribers to its unlimited plans have filed thousands of complaints, accusing the company of using bait and switch tactics. The FTC found AT&T throttled data speeds of unlimited customers after they used as little as 2GB. Speeds were often reduced by 80 or 90%, making many network-based activities unusable.

“AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited.”

The agency is charging AT&T with violating the FTC Act for changing the terms of service while customers were still under contract. AT&T no longer offers unlimited plans and instead requires customers to purchase data by the bucket. Most carriers throttle the speeds of those who use the network excessively.

“The FTC’s allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program, said AT&T general counsel Wayne Watts. “It’s baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts.”

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