The FTC Is Suing AT&T Over Data Throttling On Unlimited Users

Mobile Phone

Mobile phones have become an indispensable part of our lives, keeping us connected, entertained, and informed on the go. With advancements in technology, mobile phones have evolved to offer an incredible array of features and functionality. One of the key factors that users consider when choosing a mobile phone is the data plan offered by their service provider. In recent times, data throttling has become a topic of contention, particularly for users with unlimited data plans. And now, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against AT&T, one of the leading service providers, for allegedly slowing down data speeds for unlimited users. This move by the FTC has sparked a significant debate surrounding net neutrality and the rights of consumers. In this article, we will delve into the details of the lawsuit, explore the implications of data throttling, and shed light on what this means for mobile phone users.

Inside This Article

  1. Background on AT&T’s “Unlimited” Data Plans
  2. The FTC’s Allegations against AT&T
  3. AT&T’s Response to the Lawsuit
  4. Conclusion
  5. FAQs

Background on AT&T’s “Unlimited” Data Plans

In the world of cell phones and data plans, the term “unlimited” has always been enticing to consumers. When AT&T introduced their “unlimited” data plans, it seemed like a dream come true for heavy data users. However, as time went on, it became evident that there were some limitations and restrictions on these plans.

Initially, AT&T’s unlimited data plans were truly unlimited. Customers could use as much data as they needed without any worry of being throttled or experiencing reduced speeds. But as smartphones became more advanced and data usage increased, AT&T started to implement measures to manage network congestion.

One of the ways AT&T managed network congestion was through data throttling. Throttling is when an internet service provider intentionally slows down internet speeds for certain users. AT&T would throttle the speeds of customers who exceeded a certain threshold of data usage, even on their “unlimited” plans.

This throttling policy angered many customers who felt that they were being misled by AT&T’s claim of “unlimited” data. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took notice of these complaints and launched an investigation into AT&T’s practices.

The investigation uncovered that AT&T did not adequately disclose its throttling policy to consumers. The company failed to clearly inform customers that their data speeds would be slowed down after reaching a specific data usage threshold. This lack of transparency led the FTC to file a lawsuit against AT&T.

The lawsuit alleged that AT&T engaged in deceptive practices by falsely advertising “unlimited” data plans without fully disclosing the throttling policy. The FTC argued that this practice misled consumers and violated both the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.

Overall, the background on AT&T’s “unlimited” data plans reveals an unfortunate situation where customers were promised unlimited data but ended up facing limitations and throttling. The FTC’s lawsuit against AT&T highlights the need for transparency and honesty in the cell phone industry, ensuring that customers are fully informed about the terms and conditions of their data plans.

The FTC’s Allegations against AT&T

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently filed a lawsuit against AT&T, one of the largest mobile phone carriers in the United States. The allegations stem from AT&T’s practice of data throttling on its “unlimited” data plans, where the company intentionally slowed down the internet speeds for customers who exceeded a certain threshold of data usage.

The FTC claims that AT&T engaged in deceptive practices by advertising these plans as “unlimited” while imposing hidden restrictions on the users. According to the agency, AT&T failed to adequately disclose the data throttling policy, misleading its customers into believing that they would have unlimited high-speed data access.

The lawsuit argues that AT&T’s actions are a violation of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive practices in commerce. The FTC alleges that the company’s failure to clearly inform customers about the data throttling policy resulted in consumers being misled into purchasing the “unlimited” plans or incurring additional charges for higher-speed data.

Furthermore, the FTC claims that AT&T’s throttling practices disproportionately affected customers who relied on data-heavy activities such as streaming videos or using mobile applications. These customers, who had signed up for the “unlimited” plans in order to enjoy unlimited data without any speed restrictions, alleged that their internet speeds were unreasonably slowed down.

The FTC argues that AT&T’s data throttling policy was not necessary for managing network congestion, as the company had initially claimed. Instead, it was a deliberate tactic employed by the carrier to reduce its own data costs and increase revenue. The allegations state that AT&T selectively throttled the data speeds of its heaviest users, even when the network was not congested.

To support its case, the FTC presented internal company documents and statements from AT&T employees, which suggest that the carrier was fully aware of the impact of data throttling on its customers. These documents imply that AT&T knowingly misled consumers in order to maximize its profits.

If the FTC’s allegations are proven true, AT&T could face significant financial penalties and be required to compensate affected customers. The lawsuit also aims to prevent AT&T from engaging in similar deceptive practices in the future.

AT&T’s Response to the Lawsuit

AT&T has vigorously denied the allegations made by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding data throttling on its “unlimited” data plans. The telecommunications giant has stated that it has been transparent about its practices and has not misled its customers.

In a statement released by AT&T, the company claims that it has been upfront about its data management policies and has provided clear information to its customers about the potential for reduced speeds after reaching a certain data threshold. AT&T argues that the FTC’s claims are without merit and that it has fully complied with all applicable laws and regulations.

Furthermore, AT&T asserts that its data management practices are necessary to manage network congestion and ensure a seamless experience for all users. The company defends its right to reasonably manage network resources to prevent overcrowding and maintain optimal performance for its customers.

The telecom giant also emphasizes that it has made numerous improvements to its “unlimited” data plans over the years, including increasing the data thresholds before any potential slowdown occurs. AT&T contends that these improvements demonstrate its commitment to providing its customers with a fair and reliable service.

AT&T is confident that it will prevail in court and successfully defend itself against the FTC’s allegations. The company has stated that it will fully cooperate with the legal process and is prepared to present evidence to support its position.

Despite AT&T’s response, the outcome of the lawsuit remains uncertain. Both the FTC and AT&T will present their arguments in court, and it will be up to the judicial system to determine whether AT&T’s data management practices are lawful and whether the company has adequately informed its customers about any potential limitations on their “unlimited” data plans.

As this legal battle unfolds, it is crucial for consumers to stay informed about the evolving landscape of data plans and to thoroughly review the terms and conditions before subscribing to any services. Understanding the limitations and potential throttling policies can help users make informed decisions and choose the best plan for their needs.

The conclusion of the article is clear: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking legal action against AT&T over allegations of data throttling on unlimited data plans. This development highlights the importance of transparency and honesty in the mobile phone industry. Customers who signed up for unlimited plans expected to have access to unrestricted data usage, but with the introduction of data throttling, their experience has been compromised.

This lawsuit serves as a reminder that companies should be held accountable for their promises to consumers. Data throttling can have a significant impact on the user experience, making it imperative for mobile phone providers to clearly communicate any limitations on their unlimited plans. As the case unfolds, it will be interesting to see the outcome and the potential implications it may have for the industry as a whole.


1. What is data throttling?

Data throttling is a practice used by some mobile carriers to intentionally slow down the data speeds of certain users once they reach a certain usage threshold. This means that, even if you have an unlimited data plan, your internet speeds may be reduced after you consume a certain amount of data in a given billing cycle.

2. Why is the FTC suing AT&T over data throttling?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing AT&T over allegations that the company misled its customers by promising them unlimited data plans and then throttling their internet speeds once they reached a certain usage level. The FTC argues that this practice was deceptive and violated the Federal Trade Commission Act.

3. How did AT&T defend its data throttling practices?

AT&T claimed that its data throttling practices were necessary to manage network congestion and ensure a consistent user experience for all customers. The company argued that it had disclosed the data throttling policy in its terms and conditions and that it was within its rights to manage the network in this manner.

4. What are the potential consequences of the FTC lawsuit for AT&T?

If the FTC lawsuit is successful, AT&T may be required to pay fines and provide restitution to affected customers. The company may also be subject to additional regulatory scrutiny and have to change its data throttling practices to be more transparent and fair to customers.

5. Will the outcome of this lawsuit affect other mobile carriers?

The outcome of this lawsuit could potentially create a precedent for other mobile carriers who engage in similar data throttling practices. If AT&T is found guilty of deceptive practices, it may prompt other carriers to review and reconsider their own policies to avoid facing similar legal action.