Data throttling is an undeniably frustrating tool in network management, especially when implemented with “unlimited” data plans. Carriers can promise you unlimited data and keep that promise but control your data intake only making the first 1-10GBs of that data anywhere near usable. After that, throttling kicks in and you’re stuck sub-Edge speeds. The FTC has had enough of AT&T‘s convoluted throttling rules and is stepping in to do something.
The Federal Trade Commission has, “filed a federal court complaint against AT&T Mobility, LLC, charging that the company has misled millions of its smartphone customers by charging them for ‘unlimited’ data plans while reducing their data speeds, in some cases by nearly 90 percent.” In other words the FTC is suing AT&T over not being clear enough on what unlimited data really means. While the FTC clearly has a problem with carriers using the term unlimited and then enforcing throttling, it specifically mentioned the root of AT&T’s problem comes from when AT&T, “failed to adequately disclose to its customers on unlimited data plans that, if they reach a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T reduces — or ‘throttles’ — their data speeds.”
AT&T has already released a statement arguing against the FTC saying they have been “completely transparent” in presenting how its unlimited data plans work:
We have been completely transparent with customers since the very beginning. We informed all unlimited data-plan customers via bill notices and a national 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.Wayne WattsAT&T
Data throttling has long been a hot topic among those that rely heavily on their smartphone or tablet, as sometimes their carrier is their only link to the connected world. The FTC seems to simply want carriers to only use the term unlimited when it is truly unlimited. AT&T, on the other hand, would like to keep misleading consumers for as long as possible.