The Federal Trade Commission has sued AT&T for promising unlimited data to wireless customers and then throttling their speeds by as much as 90 percent, the FTC announced Tuesday.
All major carriers throttle certain customers during times and places of congestion, as we've reported previously. AT&T seems to have earned the FTC's wrath by throttling customers regardless of whether they were trying to use their phones in congested areas, however. As we've also written, AT&T was throttling unlimited subscribers regardless of network conditions until July, when it changed its policy. Throttling was enforced once users hit 3GB or 5GB of data per month. AT&T still throttles customers but now says it only does so in congested areas.
The FTC's lawsuit in US District Court in San Francisco alleges that AT&T hit unlimited data customers with an "unfair mobile data throttling program" and that AT&T committed a "deceptive failure to disclose [the] mobile data throttling program."
AT&T denied the allegations, saying that its practices are similar to those of other carriers and that it has been "completely transparent with customers since the very beginning."
The FTC's lawsuit described AT&T's actions as follows:
AT&T's "throttling program has been severe, often resulting in speed reductions of 80 to 90 percent for affected users," the FTC said.
The FTC asked the court to issue a permanent injunction against AT&T to prevent future violations of the FTC Act. The commission also requested financial damages "to redress injury to consumers resulting from Defendant’s violations of the FTC Act, including but not limited to rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, the refund of monies paid, and the disgorgement of ill gotten monies."