STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

AT&T to pay $60 million over claims about misleading 'unlimited' data plans

AT&T agreed to a $60 million settlement over allegations it misled more than 3.5 million customers by charging them for "unlimited" data plans while reducing...

Posted: Nov 6, 2019 3:50 AM
Updated: Nov 6, 2019 3:52 AM

AT&T agreed to a $60 million settlement over allegations it misled more than 3.5 million customers by charging them for "unlimited" data plans while reducing their data speeds when their usage exceeded a certain amount.

The settlement, announced Tuesday, resolves a 2014 lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission.

AT&T, which is CNN's parent company, allegedly started throttling, or slowing speeds, for customers with unlimited data plans in 2011, according to the FTC. The practice made it difficult to browse the web or perform other functions, and in some cases, slowed data speeds by nearly 90 percent, according to the FTC. Throttling was allegedly initiated after customers used as little as 2 gigabytes of data in a billing period, the FTC said in a press release today.

In a statement to CNN Business, an AT&T spokesperson said: "Even though it has been years since we applied this network management tool in the way described by the FTC, we believe this is in the best interests of consumers."

The settlement money will be used to issue partial refunds to affected customers who signed up for unlimited plans prior to 2011, according to the complaint. Customers won't have to submit a claim to receive the money. Current customers will receive a credit on their bills and former customers will get checks.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission fined AT&T $100 million for similar allegations about misleading "unlimited" plans. The FCC found AT&T subjected unlimited data plan customers to slower speeds after they used more than a certain amount of data per billing cycle.

Under this new settlement, AT&T will no longer be able to make claims about the speed or amount of mobile data, including that it is "unlimited," without revealing relevant restrictions. Any such disclosures will need to be prominently placed, not hidden in fine print or behind hyperlinks, according to the settlement.

"AT&T promised unlimited data — without qualification — and failed to deliver on that promise," FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith said in a press release. "While it seems obvious, it bears repeating that Internet providers must tell people about any restrictions on the speed or amount of data promised."

AT&T tried to challenge the FTC's authority over the case for years but in 2018, an appeals court ruled in favor of the FTC.

Throttling has been an issue within the telecom industry as smartphones have become ubiquitous and data usage has surged. In July 2014, Verizon faced criticism from the FCC over plans to throttle the connections of unlimited data plan customers. The company abandoned the plan in October 2014.

However, in 2018 Verizon allegedly throttled a Northern California fire department's data as its firefighters battled the largest wildfire in state history. The issue was mentioned in a net neutrality lawsuit brought by several states in 2018. At the time, Verizon acknowledged it had made a mistake and said it would "fix any issues going forward."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 11851

Reported Deaths: 232
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah282472
Marion183153
Washington181520
Umatilla9877
Clackamas95527
Union3692
Lincoln3615
Malheur3021
Lane2943
Deschutes2520
Yamhill1949
Jackson1780
Linn17410
Polk17312
Jefferson1630
Morrow1381
Klamath1351
Wasco1161
Benton1126
Hood River1040
Douglas600
Josephine571
Clatsop550
Coos540
Columbia480
Lake240
Crook181
Tillamook160
Wallowa140
Baker110
Curry90
Sherman40
Harney20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 318761

Reported Deaths: 7027
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1303943795
Riverside24765537
Orange23901421
San Diego19371422
San Bernardino18912304
Fresno790687
Imperial7827135
Alameda7725148
Kern633997
San Joaquin627968
Santa Clara5983166
Tulare5678152
Sacramento533981
Stanislaus463351
Contra Costa460589
San Francisco442650
Ventura424653
San Mateo3949112
Santa Barbara393131
Marin343430
Kings289839
Monterey254018
Solano207528
Merced188412
Sonoma165014
Placer105511
San Luis Obispo9054
Madera8938
Yolo83928
Santa Cruz5683
Napa4774
Sutter3724
Butte3384
San Benito3362
El Dorado3070
Lassen2750
Shasta1876
Yuba1803
Humboldt1654
Glenn1640
Nevada1631
Colusa1130
Mendocino1130
Lake1081
Tehama1041
Calaveras670
Tuolumne640
Del Norte600
Mono501
Siskiyou410
Amador400
Inyo341
Mariposa311
Plumas170
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 78°
Brookings
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Crater Lake
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 75°
Grants Pass
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 78°
Klamath Falls
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 75°
Sunny & seasonal Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events