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FTC sues AT&T for misleading customers on unlimited data


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FTC is suing AT&T for misleading customers on unlimited data plan. At&T would throttling customers after using a certain amount of data without telling them.

 

Personally, what took the FTC so long to finally stand up to AT&T about this issues.  AT&T been doing this for years.

 

 

 

http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/10/ftc-says-att-has-misled-millions-consumers-unlimited-data

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FTC is suing AT&T for misleading customers on unlimited data plan. At&T would throttling customers after using a certain amount of data without telling them.

 

Personally, what took the FTC so long to finally stand up to AT&T about this issues.  AT&T been doing this for years.

 

 

 

http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/10/ftc-says-att-has-misled-millions-consumers-unlimited-data

When I had ATT unlimited I always remember getting notices about being throttled. Im guessing some others werent so lucky.
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Whats the likely outcome for the ATT customer?  ATT adjusts its throttling to be more reasonable and at the same time stops allowing customers with unlimited data to get a subsidized upgrade?  How many will keep it? I wouldn't.  Too little too late. 

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Yeah, I don't think AT&T did much wrong here. They were allowed to do this in their Terms of Service. They announced they were doing so publicly which garnered a lot of media attention. And they notified customers who were being throttled. I don't understand the big hullabaloo.

 

What I believe this is about is that someone at the FCC, possibly even the Chairman himself, has been throttled using AT&T. And they don't like that.

 

AT&T doesn't even have to keep grandfathered unlimited plans. So I'm not sure what the FCC's goal is here. AT&T may just choose to change the terms back on unlimited plans to shut up the FCC. And then cancel unlimited plans all together. They aren't forced to keep unlimited.

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FTC, not FCC. ;)

 

- Trip

 

Just like many have discussed on other threads even with other providers, the data hogs are the ones that are screaming.  That top percentage are probably consuming 50GB of data or more a month.  AT&T gave fair warning, contracts have expired and the abuse is being dealt with.

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Wouldn't ATT dropping unlimited cause a violation of TOS? If you arr in the middle of contract, and your plan changes and causes a monetary chamge which going from unlimited to a set data limit could cause, it would allow people out of contracts? Good for sprint and Tmobile, but doubtful ATT would risk that. It could get away with it if you are no longer on contract or somehow are on ATT next with unlimited data.

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I don't think that AT&T should have the right to throttle unlimited users when they sold them unlimited. The network is self throttling as far as speed is concerned when it comes to periods of heavy use so it's not really done for network purposes. It is done for economic purposes so that they can extract extract more money out of heavy users. On the other hand if the contract has expired then they have every right to kick them off unlimited.

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I don't think that AT&T should have the right to throttle unlimited users when they sold them unlimited. The network is self throttling as far as speed is concerned when it comes to periods of heavy use so it's not really done for network purposes. It is done for economic purposes so that they can extract extract more money out of heavy users. On the other hand if the contract has expired then they have every right to kick them off unlimited.

There is a limit on what unlimited actually is. They can just as well as limit the speeds they can use and technically the user is getting unlimited data. The thing about unlimited data is they dont say you get unlimited highspeed data. It is all about wording.
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That is what the FTC is suing for, AT&T didn't make it clear on how they were going to do it. They were sparse about the details, no clear wording on what, when how why they were going to drop your speeds.

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I think Robert is probably on the right track, someone somewhere high up, has been getting throttled and got sick of it and has apparently got the connections to push the FTC to sue.

 

Sometimes I still wish I had kept my grandfathered unlimited ATT line open, but the throttling was ridiculous, it would not even let pandora/last.fm stream without constant buffering interuptions, like getting stuck on edge/1x.

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Yeah, I don't think AT&T did much wrong here. They were allowed to do this in their Terms of Service. They announced they were doing so publicly which garnered a lot of media attention. And they notified customers who were being throttled. I don't understand the big hullabaloo.

 

What I believe this is about is that someone at the FCC, possibly even the Chairman himself, has been throttled using AT&T. And they don't like that.

 

AT&T doesn't even have to keep grandfathered unlimited plans. So I'm not sure what the FCC's goal is here. AT&T may just choose to change the terms back on unlimited plans to shut up the FCC. And then cancel unlimited plans all together. They aren't forced to keep unlimited.

 

I think the FTC/FCC is just upset because AT&T told regulators that they were doing this because of limitations on capacity.  Then, AT&T turns around and offers double-the-data promotion and never-EVER throttles bucketed data users.

 

It's the double standard that is the issue, from what I can tell.  You are treating one class of customers completely different than an other class based on a reason that turned out to a be a straight lie to FCC/FTC all in hopes of keeping churn down.

 

There is no double that I am sure Verizon cried foul that if they were forced to not limit customer's with unlimited data, the rules should also apply to AT&T.

 

I also think there is a FTC issue when you say FREE* Lunch and then in small print say for $5.95 (it's not really a free lunch).

 

Perhaps the FTC wanted to see AT&T say to legacy customers that the old unlimited plans were turning to 5GB plans with no overages but 2G speeds after 5GB (aka a more honest labeling of what the customer was actually getting).

 

Either way, I hope AT&T blows chunks, burns, and goes down in flames.

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Just like many have discussed on other threads even with other providers, the data hogs are the ones that are screaming.  That top percentage are probably consuming 50GB of data or more a month.  AT&T gave fair warning, contracts have expired and the abuse is being dealt with.

 

The info that has come out, and probably why the FTC got involved was that the throttling was quite severe to the point that it would be nearly impossible to use more than about 13-15 gb a month, regardless of network conditions.  (only so much you can download at dialup speeds)  Initially, the thresholds were set so low that for some people, they could be throttled after as little as 2 gb, and be stuck with edge speeds for the remainder of the month.  There were numerous reports of people on unlimited being throttled while using less data that someone on the basic tiered plans.

 

AT&T considered dropping the unlimited plans, but felt they would lose too many customers.  With research and customer surveys, they knew that most consumers don't consider throttled plans unlimited,so they also tried to downplay the changes as much as they practically could. 

 

In short, the FTC complaint is that AT&T was being knowingly misleading.

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There is a limit on what unlimited actually is. They can just as well as limit the speeds they can use and technically the user is getting unlimited data. The thing about unlimited data is they dont say you get unlimited highspeed data. It is all about wording.

You advertise unlimited on TV, it'd better be unlimited, no 5pt type terms and conditions allowed. 

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You advertise unlimited on TV, it'd better be unlimited, no 5pt type terms and conditions allowed.

 

Cable co's advertise x Mbps down, but in fine print you cant read state up too and they have not been in trouble for not providing X Mbps every second of every day. All unlimited means is they do not charge you per GB which is still true at 50mbps or .05 mbps. You still get unlimited data. They can easily force all unlimited users to only be able to access edge, and give them Unlimited data. Because they dont have to give every customer LTE or even HSPA+. They can shift people around as they see fit. It is their network after all. And people have had plenty of time to leave if they didnt like the throttle policy.
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Cable co's advertise x Mbps down, but in fine print you cant read state up too and they have not been in trouble for not providing X Mbps every second of every day. All unlimited means is they do not charge you per GB which is still true at 50mbps or .05 mbps. You still get unlimited data. They can easily force all unlimited users to only be able to access edge, and give them Unlimited data. Because they dont have to give every customer LTE or even HSPA+. They can shift people around as they see fit. It is their network after all. And people have had plenty of time to leave if they didnt like the throttle policy.

If speed throttling was applied equally to all the devices in the sector no matter whether they were on unlimited plans or not, then I would agree with you.

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If speed throttling was applied equally to all the devices in the sector no matter whether they were on unlimited plans or not, then I would agree with you.

 

There is no need to throttle speed for those users because they watch their data more so than Unlimited Data users. There has to be a checks and balances system for even sprint and ATT. I am not going to complain about throttling, Network optimization, on sprint if or when it happens. ATT users were given notice, I know I did. IF we are going after ATT then go after all Unlimited data advertisers who Throttle. T-mobile Throttles you, Sprint does on certain sectors. I dont agree that ATT throttled to a usable speed, but it is done so that one user isnt using killing the experience for hundreds. Maybe it would be best for ATT to kill of all unlimited plans. Contract or not, the people that complain will leave or deal with it. ATT can do that for the better of the network which the people signed was ok. 

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There is no need to throttle speed for those users because they watch their data more so than Unlimited Data users. There has to be a checks and balances system for even sprint and ATT. I am not going to complain about throttling, Network optimization, on sprint if or when it happens. ATT users were given notice, I know I did. IF we are going after ATT then go after all Unlimited data advertisers who Throttle. T-mobile Throttles you, Sprint does on certain sectors. I dont agree that ATT throttled to a usable speed, but it is done so that one user isnt using killing the experience for hundreds. Maybe it would be best for ATT to kill of all unlimited plans. Contract or not, the people that complain will leave or deal with it. ATT can do that for the better of the network which the people signed was ok. 

Oh, I am all for going after all the throttlers. Don't advertise unlimited if you are using asymmetric throttling. Advertise 40GB or 50GB or whatever that limit is. If there is a limit, it's not unlimited.

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Oh, I am all for going after all the throttlers. Don't advertise unlimited if you are using asymmetric throttling. Advertise 40GB or 50GB or whatever that limit is. If there is a limit, it's not unlimited.

But it still is unlimited even at slower speeds? If my math was correct even at .01mbps streamed 24/7 for 30 days equals to about 24-25K Mb which is still above what the average user uses. The point of unlimited data is to allow consumers to not have to worry about getting charged for using X GB or MB over their allotment. They still accomplish that with throttling. 

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If the throttled speeds were usable, you would have a point.

 

But when the throttling essentially blocks or makes unusable any connection, then that is called service affecting.

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If the throttled speeds were usable, you would have a point.

 

But when the throttling essentially blocks or makes unusable any connection, then that is called service affecting.

That is the only issue I had, I would of been happy being throttled to 1mbps which is below their LTE advertised speeds, but definitely usable

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I don't think that AT&T should have the right to throttle unlimited users when they sold them unlimited. The network is self throttling as far as speed is concerned when it comes to periods of heavy use so it's not really done for network purposes. It is done for economic purposes so that they can extract extract more money out of heavy users. On the other hand if the contract has expired then they have every right to kick them off unlimited.

 

But AT&T hasn't offered unlimited plans for years and does not have to keep them forever.  These are all grandfathered customers who's unlimited contracts expired a long time ago.  AT&T can cancel all unlimited plans tomorrow and be within their rights.  I expect if the FTC keeps pushing them, that's what they'll do.  They'll just drop the grandfathered unlimited plans.

 

These people all agreed to revised changes in terms over the past few years.  They all have had opportunities to cancel their contracts at renewal periods if they didn't like the new terms instituted back in 2011.  Yet they agreed to them.  I hate defending AT&T, but I'm still amazed they kept unlimited plans even grandfathered.  And they even still allowed upgrades, unlike Verizon who made customers pay full cash price to keep it.  This will just be the catalyst to scrap unlimited completely.

 

As for AT&T doubling the data now...it's not a sign they have a lot more capacity.  It's a sign of desperation to keep from losing customers.  Speeds are going down noticeably with these new higher data caps.  My 40-50Mbps is now 15-25Mbps in just the past 3 weeks or so on the 10MHz channel.  And it's now dropped from 5-8Mbps to 1-3Mbps on the 5MHz channel.  AT&T didn't want to give up their capacity, but they have no choice.

 

They will be able to rebound in time with their network.  But it will cost billions just to pay for the additional capacity needed in the long run.  At least these new double limit customers still at least have a finite amount of damage they can do to the network.  Unlimited customers can do far more damage to capacity than double bucket customers.  

 

People who have hung on to unlimited on AT&T and VZW through all the changes and much cheaper plans coming around do so for a reason.  They use it in massive quantities.  Because AT&T prices back in 2011 were much, much higher than they are today.  You would need to use more than 30GB per month to justify staying on AT&T unlimited.

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Yeah, I don't think AT&T did much wrong here. They were allowed to do this in their Terms of Service. They announced they were doing so publicly which garnered a lot of media attention. And they notified customers who were being throttled. I don't understand the big hullabaloo.

 

What I believe this is about is that someone at the FCC, possibly even the Chairman himself, has been throttled using AT&T. And they don't like that.

 

AT&T doesn't even have to keep grandfathered unlimited plans. So I'm not sure what the FCC's goal is here. AT&T may just choose to change the terms back on unlimited plans to shut up the FCC. And then cancel unlimited plans all together. They aren't forced to keep unlimited.

I am surprised they have not canceled them yet. 

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