The FTC Is Finally Suing AT&T for Throttling Customers' Data

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Good news, you lovers of freedom and justice. The FTC is going after AT&T for throttling the mobile internet speed of unlimited data customers. In the words of FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez: "The issue is simple: Unlimited means unlimited."

Put a little bit more bluntly, the FTC is saying that AT&T broke the law by engaging in "unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce." The agency's done its research has the numbers to support that argument as well. In some cases, the suit reads, AT&T throttled the data of customers who'd paid for unlimited data by up to 95 percent—95 percent! At that rate, you might as well not even have a data plan.

Of course, it's up to a judge to decide whether or not what AT&T did was actually illegal. But for now, those customers who've been throttled will be glad to hear that the government thinks they've "suffered and will continue to suffer substantial injury as a result" of AT&T's actions. And the complaint alone will certainly make other wireless companies think long and hard about their own throttling schemes. Seriously, nobody likes these schemes. [FTC via Washington Post]


[Update 2:11 PM] AT&T released a statement and it is predictably defensive:

The FTC's allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program. 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.

We have been completely transparent with customers since the very beginning. We informed all unlimited data-plan customers via bill notices and anational press release that resulted in nearly 2,000 news stories, well before the program was implemented. In addition, this program has affected only about 3% of our customers, and before any customer is affected, they are also notified by text message.


"It's baffling…"