The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it plans to fine AT&T Mobility $100 million for misleading customers about its “unlimited” mobile data plans, imposing the agency’s largest proposed fine ever in alleging that the carrier “severely” slowed down the data speeds for customers with such plans.
AT&T failed to adequately notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised, the FCC said. AT&T’s actions also violated the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, a set of rules that regulate telecom service providers’ conduct, the agency said.
If customers used more than 5 gigabytes of data for the month, the carrier slowed its data transmission speeds to levels that made using mobile apps difficult or impossible, said an FCC official, who requested anonymity to discuss the agency’s actions in detail. AT&T no longer sells unlimited plans to new customers, but those who subscribed to the plans when they were still in market can continue to claim their right to use as much data as they want.
With demand for mobile data exploding, wireless carriers have tightened access to their networks for heavy users as a way to manage traffic and boost revenue.