The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to investigate whether AT&T has misled its subscribers over its throttling policies. The major wireless carrier usually throttles network speeds on subscribers of unlimited data when they go beyond a certain threshold every month.
Last October, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also filed a lawsuit against AT&T over its throttling practices. But between the two federal agencies, the FCC is expected to perform the formal investigation.
The FCC investigation was revealed when AT&T filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by FTC. The carrier pointed out that it is not subject to the jurisdiction of the FTC because of its common carrier status as a regulated phone service provider.
That jurisdiction, however, lies with the FCC, which is now launching its own probe. AT&T may have slipped from the FTC's grasp, but the FCC is no slouch either. Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of the FCC, has been vocal in expressing his disapproval of unfair throttling practices. When Verizon Wireless announced that it would be throttling the network speeds on its unlimited plans in July of last year, Wheeler had written a rather scathing letter to Verizon CEO Dan Mead.
For sure, the FCC will be coming down hard on AT&T. As for the carrier under investigation, it may not be wise to use its common carrier status as the basis of its argument. Mobile broadband is not exactly considered a common carrier service the same way regular phone networks are considered utilities. However, President Obama's administration is pushing for data services to be reclassified to make the Internet a neutral venue for all types of web services. According to Wheeler, a net neutrality proposal will be put to a vote on February 26th.
If FCC ever finds evidence that AT&T is indeed misleading its subscribers over its throttling policies, then the federal agency will surely be issuing a fine to the carrier. To avoid this, AT&T will have to make its data throttling policies more transparent and more consistent. Currently, subscribers under 3G or HSPA+ phones and legacy unlimited data plans are throttled for the remainder of their billing period after they go beyond 3 gigabytes of data in a month, but this should only happen at certain occasions and areas that are having network congestion. But while LTE subscribers with grandfathered unlimited plans do not get throttled until they exceed 5 gigabytes of data in a month, their speeds are always slowed down for the remainder of their billing cycle -- no matter the congestion level of the network. According to AT&T, they are going to address that discrepancy more clearly in 2015.
Wirefly Is America's Most Trusted Source For All Cell Phones, Plans, TV, and Internet Deals
Wirefly offers great deals on a large selection of smartphones, cell phones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and other wireless devices for the nation's most popular carriers. Use Wirefly’s innovative cell phone and plan comparison tools to ensure you are getting the best deal on the market. Shop with confidence knowing that Wirefly wants to help you find the best prices on cell phones, cell phone plans, TV, and Internet service.