Today the Federal Trade Commission announced a deal with AT&T to resolve allegations that AT&T misled consumers with unlimited data promises. As part of this deal, AT&T will pay $60 million to the FTC.
“AT&T promised unlimited data—without qualification—and failed to deliver on that promise,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While it seems obvious, it bears repeating that Internet providers must tell people about any restrictions on the speed or amount of data promised.”
The FTC complaint alleged that AT&T promised unlimited data, but began throttling speeds in 2011 after they reached 2 GB of data per billing period. According to the complaint, over 3.5 million customers were affected by the time the complaint was filed in October 2014.
AT&T is also prohibited from making any representation about the speed or amount of its mobile data, including that it is “unlimited,” without disclosing any material restrictions on the speed or amount of data. The FTC says the disclosure about unlimited data and the speeds needs to be prominent and not buried in fine print or hidden behind hyperlinks.
The $60 million AT&T is paying will be put into a fund that the company will use to provide partial refunds to both current and former customers who had originally signed up for unlimited plans prior to 2011 but were throttled by AT&T.