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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States today filed a federal court complaint against AT&T, accusing the carrier of misleading its smartphone customers by charging them for unlimited data while reducing their data speeds by up to 90 percent.

According to the FTC, AT&T did not adequately explain to customers with unlimited data plans that they would be throttled if they reached a certain amount of data during a billing cycle. AT&T also did not inform customers of the throttling when they renewed their unlimited contracts.

"AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "The issue here is simple: 'unlimited' means unlimited."
AT&T ceased offering unlimited data plans to customers several years ago, but has allowed Grandfathered customers to retain those plans. AT&T implemented throttling shortly after eliminating its unlimited data plans, initially restricting throttling to only its highest usage customers but later capping data for everyone on an unlimited plan. Currently, customers on unlimited plans are able to use 5GB of LTE data or 3GB of 3G data, after which AT&T throttles their data speeds.

The FTC alleges that AT&T throttled customers who had used as little as 2GB of data beginning in 2011, and that the throttling is severe, "resulting in speed reductions of 80 to 90 percent for affected users." AT&T is said to have throttled 3.5 million customers more than 25 million times, violating the FTC Act in the process.

Update 11:15 AM PT: AT&T has given a statement to MacRumors in response to the FTC's "baffling" complaint, stating that the allegations are "baseless" and that it has been "completely transparent" with customers.
"The FTC's allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program. It's baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts.

"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."

Article Link: FTC Sues AT&T Over 'Misleading' Unlimited Data Throttling Practices [Updated]


macrumors 68020
Aug 15, 2011
Good going! AT&T deserved this! I couldn't be happier today.

AT&T = Always Tricky & Treacherous
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macrumors member
Mar 28, 2014
Yessssssssss. Of course, AT&T will lose, then add miscellaneous fees to Unlimited data customers.


macrumors 68040
Sep 11, 2008
New York City
Awesome!! Maybe this ends in AT&T giving us grandfathered in the plan real unlimited data without throttling.


macrumors 6502
May 3, 2004
AT&T ceased offering unlimited data plans to customers several years ago, but has allowed Grandfathered customers to retain those plans.
Could someone explain why AT&T grandfathers some plans? Are they legally obligated to do so? What is preventing them from simply forcing anyone who upgrades a phone to use one of the new data plans?


macrumors 65816
Mar 16, 2012
Glad to see the FTC step up and make a move. However hopefully ATT doesn't do something stupid and remove unlimited all together. But wouldn't surprise me if they did.


macrumors newbie
Sep 28, 2010
Unlimited Data

So - I'm sure AT&T will fight this - and we as unlimited users will still have to wait to get our full bandwidth??? Or do we starting getting that right now?


macrumors regular
Jun 6, 2007
Louisiana, United States
Could someone explain why AT&T grandfathers some plans? Are they legally obligated to do so? What is preventing them from simply forcing anyone who upgrades a phone to use one of the new data plans?

I, for one, would probably switch carriers if they booted me off of the unlimited plan. My guess is that they feel many others would do the same.


macrumors 68000
Apr 2, 2009
San Antonio, TX
Now only if the FTC would do something about them charging extra for when you decided to tether your mobile data connection to another device, such as a computer. Data is data. I was forced off of my unlimited data plan in 2011 and onto a more expensive plan with just a little bit of data because of it, without receiving any prior warnings. Cost way more in the long run for much less.

Happy T-Mobile user here, 16 months and counting.


macrumors 6502a
Jun 11, 2009
I hope they put stronger language on the next mega block bid for 600 re-frame to prevent all this traffic shaping to increase profits and require them to be fully transparent with capacity.

I see this as a we have low capacity see we had to throttle people give us a better stake of the next auction. Then they moved to tiered family data and showed there hand thanks to t-mobile. There is plenty of capacity they are just being greedy and have been caught telling half truths to the FCC and the FTC.

I say good riddance to ATT and Verizon a pox on both there houses. Sadly i am a Verizon customer i have no choice.

When will google or apple buy one of these and destabilize this industry fully.


macrumors regular
Oct 15, 2008
So, one of two thing happen now.

1. AT&T's lawyers believe they have a good chance at winning an argument that says "unlimited means we won't turn it off, not that someone will/would/could/should get our best which others pay dearly for" and thus further perpetuates the "unlimited" fallacy.


2. They don't think they have a good chance of winning. In which case Goodbye unlimited data grandfathering.

I think 2 is likely.

I also think that this round of FCC action, while probably necessary, will kill off any remaining vestiges of "unlimited" for Verizon / ATT. You'll need to go to a B tier carrier to get that perk.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 7, 2011
There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. - Sam Walton

It ways right in the contract that they can throttle, or get rid of you if they don't like how YOU are using THEIR network. Those were the terms that were agreed upon. You don't like what AT&T is doing to your data? Go somewhere else. They'll pay for it that way. This bureaucracy is totally unnecessary...


macrumors newbie
May 7, 2009
Is there a chance, if they AT&T loses, they'll be forced to pay back money who have been throttled over the years?
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