AT&T first offered unlimited data plans in 2007, promising unlimited data use. Although AT&T stopped selling the plan to new customers, it continued to allow current unlimited users to continue to renew their plan.
Unfortunately for AT&T’s customers, the company sneaked in a new term contract putting in place a “Maximum Bit Rate” policy. This meant that although their plans might still say unlimited data, customers were getting capped data speeds after they had used a certain amount of data in a billing period. For the rest of the billing period, their data would be capped to a rate so slow it would be virtually unusable.
The FCC charged AT&T in violation of the Open Internet Transparency Rule for misleading customers about the true speed of their unlimited data plans. Said FCC Chairman Tom WHeeler, “Consumers deserve to get what they pay for. Broadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide. The FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.”
AT&T is currently due to face a $100 million fine for misleading customers and not being transparent about capping data plans. This will be a big victory for the thousands of AT&T customers who have filed complaints since 2011 for being locked into contracts, faced with early termination fees and served an unlimited data plan with painfully slow speeds.