AT&T has announced that they have decided to make some changes with regard to its Unlimited Data Plan, allowing the carrier’s smartphone customers to be able to use as much as 22GB of high-speed data before experiencing reduced data speeds due to “network management practices.”
This moves comes following a lawsuit filed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against AT&T Mobility LLC for “deceptive and unfair data throttling.” In the copy of the complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in 2014, the FTC alleges that AT&T had, in fact, been putting restrictions on data speed of unlimited plan data customers who exceeds the carrier’s thresholds. This means that the affected customers would experience lower data speed for the remainder for their billing cycle. Moreover, the said threshold was even as low as 2GB per billing cycle in markets like New York City and San Francisco Bay Area, where there is a large concentration of mobile data consumers.
In response to this practice, thousands of customers have sent letters of complaint to the FTC regarding their “drastically reduced service.” One customer even claimed to be experiencing data speed reduction of as much as 90%. In addition, the FTC has also received over 190,000 calls from customers complaining about AT&T’s data throttling practice. Moreover, FTC alleges that AT&T also practices data throttling on customers even during times when network is not congested.
AT&T, early on, had tried to dismiss the lawsuit as the company claims that it has been granted an exemption, under the statute of being a “common carriers subject to the Acts to regulate commerce.” However, that motion was denied earlier this year.
Now, AT&T says that they will send a notification to customers during each billing cycle the moment their data usage reaches 16.5GB, equivalent to 75% off 22GB. This is so they can readily adjust their usage and avoid reduced data speeds. Moreover, should a customer experience reduced data speed, AT&T assures them that “standard speeds and latency” will actually resume the moment the network is no longer congested or when the customer’s data session moves to an uncongested cell site. Moreover, data speed will also return to normal at the start of the next billing cycle.
AT&T has also prepared a brief presentation regarding online activities that can be done with various data speeds. Meanwhile, the FTC is working on getting affected customers refunded. The commission had said early on, “If you promise unlimited data, you’re on the hook to deliver.”