AT&T, the mobile phone carrier with a logo that — unapologetically and appropriately — looks like the Death Star, was fined $100 million for throttling its customers with unlimited data without properly notifying them.
The unlimited data tier is a thing of the past and was announced in 2007 when Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone. AT&T’s network was not up early adopters actually using its wireless data network and the plan was scrapped after a few years. However, it continues to be grandfathered from iPhone to iPhone by users who still have the plan, though AT&T encourages users to move to tiered plans or they’ve moved on to other carriers.
Despite killing unlimited data, heavy users found that AT&T was throttling their plans to slower speeds than than the 3G and LTE connections they were used to. The FCC found that the company was in violation of the Open Internet Transparency Rule, one of the few policies left intact after a court challenge of the 2010 net neutrality order. The FTC is also suing AT&T over the issue.
AT&T is taking a pro-customer stance and complying with the FCC’s ruling.
Just kidding. “We will vigorously dispute the FCC’s assertions. The FCC has specifically identified this practice as a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers and has known for years that all of the major carriers use it. We have been fully transparent with our customers, providing notice in multiple ways and going well beyond the FCC’s disclosure requirements,” AT&T predictably stated.
(Ars Technica reports that AT&T’s revenue in the neighborhood of $32 billion, with an operating income of $5.5 billion this most recent quarter. So really, AT&T is fighting over relative pocket change.)
Via Ars Technica. Photo by AT&T.