AT&T settles FTC data throttling case from 2014

Posted:
in General Discussion
A court filing made public on Friday reveals the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement agreement with AT&T over allegations that the mobile carrier slowed down, or throttled, data transfer speeds of certain customers.

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Filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the proposed order reveals AT&T and the FTC on Aug. 2 reached an agreement in principle on injunctive provisions and monetary relief. A stay was requested through Friday as the parties finalized details regarding administration of consumer redress and AT&T approval of the settlement agreement.

With an agreement in hand, the FTC and AT&T have asked the court for a 90-day stay as the proposal is presented to FTC commissioners for review. A subsequent vote on the agreement is expected to arrive by Nov. 21.

Today's court filing failed to disclose the value of the settlement.

Reuters reported on the document earlier Friday.

The case dates back to 2014, when the FTC leveled charges against America's second-largest carrier by subscribers claiming the company intentionally declined to notify customers of a data throttling strategy applied to unlimited data plans. AT&T applied the provision to heavy data users who paid a premium monthly fee for what was advertised as unrestricted network access.

Defended by AT&T as a necessary trade-off to keep its network running smoothly, the practice allegedly saw data transfer speeds drop by as much as 90 percent for some 3.5 million consumers in the U.S.

AT&T's woes were further exacerbated when the Federal Communications Commission ramped up a parallel investigation under the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule. In 2015, the FCC announced intent to fine the carrier $100 million over the throttling kerfuffle.

At the time, AT&T issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the FCC's assertions.

"The FCC has specifically identified this practice as a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers, and has known for years that all of the major carriers use it," the company said. "We have been fully transparent with our customers, providing notice in multiple ways and going well beyond the FCC's disclosure requirements."

The FTC action was dismissed in 2016 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which noted AT&T is a common carrier and is therefore not under the trade body's jurisdiction.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,669member
    AT&T - we put the limited in unlimited!
    spock1234bageljoey
  • Reply 2 of 10
    mobirdmobird Posts: 276member
    edited.
    edited August 23
  • Reply 3 of 10

    Defended by AT&T as a necessary trade-off to keep its network running smoothly,

    Not if you didn’t sell it in the first place. It only became necessary because you sold capacity you didn’t have. And now these curts just get to settle, and continue forking everyone over. 
    spock1234
  • Reply 4 of 10
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,489member
    AT&T needs to stop throttling AT&T TV (nee DirecTV Now) video over cellular. For the past several months I rarely, if ever, got HD. Watching over AT&T cellular for free was a nice perk. They need to bring back HD or lose customers.
    spock1234
  • Reply 5 of 10
    macikemacike Posts: 56member
    AT&T is run by Greedy, Money-grubbing, Lying, Bastards that have no clue about Customer appreciation or Customer service. They sent me a message regarding how much Data I was using ( I don’t use my Instagram, Twitter, and have used Facebook live only once!) and I replied,” I have been paying for Unlimited Data since 2007, Kiss My Ass!” 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,465member
    "The FCC has specifically identified this practice [throttling?] as a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers, and has known for years that all of the major carriers use it," the company said. "We have been fully transparent with our customers, providing notice in multiple ways and going well beyond the FCC's disclosure requirements."

    Shirtballs! Sure they have. "Throttling is not limiting. You're getting unlimited data. We're just rationing how fast you get it. How could that be limiting! You're welcome, you ungrateful peasants.'

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,062member
    ATT sucks.  They are one of the most dishonest companies out there.  I’ve been with them since the iPhone was exclusive, and only remain due to switching being a pain at this point (long story).  The worst is their 5Ge network.  Before that it was their “4G” network.  
    Basically their service breaks down like this:  

    5Ge:  Their true LTE-A network.  Available in cities and suburbs.  Phone runs like it should.  

    LTE:  Their old “4G” network, which is not LTE.  Phone runs slower.  

    4G:  Not 4G.  This is really 3.5G.  Phone is almost unusable on this network.  

    In my exurban area, it switches constantly.  When it does, calls often drop.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 929member
    AT&T needs to stop lying to nearly everyone and ripping off their customers. Their "unlimited" plans have limits that have been intentionally placed on them that are artificial and not direct limits of their system (example: throttling a customer after 22 GB). They claim not to throttle anyone until they reach their monthly byte limit in spite of tons of evidence otherwise. Displaying "5G" on phones when it comes nowhere close to the speed or technical standards to be that. A personal one of mine: stating that they couldn't specify how much my monthly bill would be because of "added fees and taxes" in spite of AT&T being in full control of it. Switching customer plans without their approval or notice. The list goes on...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    wd4fsuwd4fsu Posts: 14member
    cpsro said:
    AT&T needs to stop throttling AT&T TV (nee DirecTV Now) video over cellular. For the past several months I rarely, if ever, got HD. Watching over AT&T cellular for free was a nice perk. They need to bring back HD or lose customers.
    Go into MyAT&T app and turn off StreamSaver on your account if it is on. That might help.
    llama
  • Reply 10 of 10
    Throttling is a concern, but I'm more concerned how cable companies get away with compressing their HD videos and uncompressing them when they reach the customer. This reduces the quality of the video. Is it still HD? I'm not sure. But I'm sure that people aren't aware of this issue.

    At least people are aware of the throttling issue.
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