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article imageU.S. government suing AT&T over claims of 'unlimited' data

By Nate Smith     Oct 29, 2014 in Business
San Francisco - The United States government is suing one of the country's largest wireless service providers, accusing it of misleading customers with claims of "unlimited" data for their smart phones.
The Federal Trade Commission is accusing AT&T of misleading millions of customers with promises of unlimited data, because the company made a practice of throttling users' data and slowing connection speeds.
The FTC asserts AT&T did not do enough to properly notify its customers that their data would be limited if they exceeded a particular threshold over a given billing cycle, according to the complaint filed Tuesday.
In some cases, the telecommunications company throttled its customers' data speeds by upwards of 90 percent, the FTC claims.
According to FTC, AT&T did not sufficiently disclose that, "if (customers) reach a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T reduces – or 'throttles' – their data speeds to the point that many common mobile phone applications – like web browsing, GPS navigation and watching streaming video – become difficult or nearly impossible to use."
The federal complaint alleges that AT&T has prominently touted its "unlimited" data plans first when the concept was introduced in 2007, and it continues to do so in an effort to prevent long-time customers from switching providers.
Customers who purchased an "unlimited" AT&T data for $30 per month between 2007 and 2010 have been permitted to retain those contracts even as the wireless provider no longer offers that as a purchase option for new customers, who must instead choose from among select "tiered" data plans.
AT&T Wireless "Unlimited" Data Plans | FindTheBest
According to the lawsuit, AT&T began its "throttling program" in 2011, and it was updated later. Per the lawsuit, AT&T begins throttling back its users' data after they eclipse 3GB in a billing cycle.
The complaint was initiated in part as a result of overwhelming comments from disgruntled users.
Court documents include portions of dozens of complaints against AT&T.
"Unlimited means without restriction, (but) AT&T slowing the speed of data by 90% is RESTRICTING my data," reads one such excerpt.
"This is a clear case of bait and switch," complains another customer.
The lawsuit calls for an injunction against the service provider's throttling practice, and for an unspecified amount of damages to be paid back to AT&T customers.
More about At&t, Lawsuit, Cell phones, Smartphones, Data
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