The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made a complaint against AT&T public this morning, claiming that over the course of the past few years, every time AT&T throttled a customer who had an unlimited data plan, it was breaking the law.
To be exact, this complaint is in direct relation to a press release which AT&T released back in July of 2011, which announced AT&T planned to throttle its top data users, but would make sure the users knew they were going to be throttled after they used a specific amount of data. From the FTC’s findings, AT&T was not very good at notifying its customers with texts or emails, ultimately throttling 3.5 million users to the tune of 25 million times.
Given the severity of these claims, AT&T’s Senior Executive VP and General Counsel Wayne Watts, had the following to say in a press release.
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.
This is not the first time a wireless company has been in trouble with the government over this same issue. Earlier this year, Verizon was in hot water with the FCC over its planned throttling of unlimited data users, stating the users “had no incentive not to” hog all of Verizon’s data resources.
To us, as consumers, when we sign up for an unlimited plan, we expect that we are paying for unlimited access to a fast data connection. Not a fast connection up until a certain point, then to be throttled down to dial up speeds. You can expect to hear more about this situation as it continues.
What are your thoughts on carriers throttling its top users. Is it an okay thing to do, as long as you notify the customer properly? Or should it never be condoned?