AT&T could face a fine in the amount of $100 million from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after the agency determined that the carrier deceived its subscribers over its unlimited wireless data plans.
As investigated by the FCC, it appears that AT&T slowed down its 4G LTE service for customers of its unlimited data plans when these users went beyond their allowance of 5 gigabytes of data each month. The carrier allegedly dropped speeds to as slow as 512 kilobits per second (kbps), which is equivalent to just 5 percent of what AT&T promised for its 4G LTE service. On top of that, the carrier made no effort to properly inform its subscribers that they could expect to have slowed down data.
According to the FCC, AT&T is in violation of the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule when it did not provide the service it advertised to customers. Add the fact that the carrier failed to sufficiently notify affected subscribers, AT&T is definitely in hot water right now.
And it looks like the FCC is eager to make an example of the carrier. This marks the first time that the agency is taking action against a company that broke the new net neutrality rules which recently went into effect just a few days ago.
The FCC is certainly coming down hard on AT&T. A fine of $100 million is surely nothing to scoff at. As a matter of fact, it is the biggest that the agency has ever issued for any company in violation of the rules.
As for AT&T, it is vehemently disputing the FCC's allegations. The carrier claims it had informed its subscribers regarding its policy in more ways than one. It added that the FCC itself had specifically cited slowing down data speeds as a perfectly legitimate and legal way of managing the network to ensure better services for every customer.
The FCC, of course, is saying that the issue is not just about informing its customers, but in how the customers were informed. AT&T did not provide proper, specific, and adequate information to its subscribers, especially in terms of how slow their data speeds could become nor what would cause their data speeds to be throttled in the first place. And for that, the carrier must pay, at least according to the FCC.
$100 million is a hefty fine, but if AT&T is lucky, it could end up paying lower than this amount. After all, the FCC still has to get approval via its own internal judicial process. Also, AT&T still has the option of disputing the charge through legal court.
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