SEVERE WX : Air Quality Alert View Alerts
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: 30060

Reported Deaths: 521
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah6690129
Marion433689
Washington420858
Umatilla288141
Clackamas219961
Malheur147023
Jackson10073
Lane91314
Deschutes73912
Yamhill72114
Jefferson5038
Polk48915
Morrow4775
Lincoln47013
Linn44913
Union4352
Klamath2672
Benton2476
Hood River2400
Wasco2303
Douglas1953
Josephine1802
Columbia1481
Coos1340
Clatsop1060
Baker892
Crook601
Tillamook470
Lake290
Wallowa281
Curry260
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam70
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 775037

Reported Deaths: 14804
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2572716324
Riverside563741143
San Bernardino51467839
Orange513991115
San Diego43619754
Kern31076340
Fresno27381348
Sacramento20961371
Alameda20162365
Santa Clara19891295
San Joaquin19701407
Stanislaus16150325
Contra Costa15544197
Tulare15486255
Ventura12073141
Imperial11457310
San Francisco1056991
San Mateo9332142
Monterey919765
Santa Barbara8785109
Merced8692131
Kings715877
Sonoma6827114
Marin6505111
Solano605455
Madera427058
Placer338541
San Luis Obispo331627
Yolo272153
Butte270433
Santa Cruz21088
Sutter162110
Napa158713
San Benito126010
Yuba11087
El Dorado10544
Mendocino81718
Lassen7300
Shasta66114
Glenn5473
Colusa4996
Nevada4975
Tehama4853
Humboldt4826
Lake43310
Calaveras30513
Amador28616
Tuolumne2163
Inyo18714
Mono1632
Siskiyou1590
Del Norte1351
Mariposa752
Plumas490
Modoc230
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Medford
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 67°
Brookings
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 63°
Crater Lake
Few Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 57°
Grants Pass
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 59°
Klamath Falls
Few Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 57°
Thunderstorms potential into this evening
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events