First FCC Net Neutrality Case Hits AT&T with $100 Million Fine

Friday, June 19, 2015

Making it clear how serious it is about enforcing net neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hit AT&T with a $100 million fine for slowing down the broadband access of millions of its customers. It’s the largest fine ever levied by the FCC.

The FCC accused AT&T of misleading its customers about the company’s “unlimited” data plans. In fact, “AT&T severely slowed down the data speeds for customers with unlimited data plans and that the company failed to adequately notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised,” the FCC said in a statement.

AT&T’s actions violated the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule, the FCC said. The agency received thousands of complaints starting in 2011 from AT&T customers because of “throttling” of Internet speeds for those with unlimited plans. The FCC found that after customers used a certain amount of data, they were throttled down from high speeds down to the equivalent of dial-up.

“Consumers deserve to get what they pay for,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said. “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 says it will contest the fine. The company has also been sued by the Federal Trade Commission, which accuses the company of false advertising in connection with their “unlimited” data plan.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

AT&T Mobility Faces $100M Fine For Misleading Consumers (Federal Communications Commission)

AT&T Just Got Hit with a $100 Million Fine after Slowing Down Its ‘Unlimited’ Data (by Brian Fung, Washington Post)

FCC to Fine AT&T for Slowing Data Speeds of Some Customers (by Rebecca Ruiz, New York Times)

FCC Votes 3-2 to Make Internet a Utility and Block State Laws Limiting Municipal Internet Services (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Steve W. 9 years ago
Thank you! Thank you!! Many thanks to the FCC and FTC for doing your job and enforcing the law. Finally, these internet providers are being held accountable for their false and misleading advertising, services, and unsavory business practices. AT&T is only the tip of the iceberg. Now you need to go after Verizon and the rest. However, a $100 million fine is pocket change to them and hardly a deterrent. What you need to do is force them to credit their customers a certain percentage of their bill to account for the slowed access periods. Now that would become a deterrent not only for them, but for the rest of the shysters that are doing the same thing.

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