AT&T Faces $100M Fine for Running Afoul of Transparency Rule

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AT&T Mobility (AT&T) has been hit with an FCC record-setting $100 million proposed forfeiture for alleged violations of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule.  The FCC specifically alleges that AT&T misled its unlimited mobile data customers under the company’s “Maximum Bit Rate” policy by throttling data speeds at certain data caps without adequate notification to customers that their speeds would be slowed to below advertised speeds.  Though AT&T no longer offers unlimited data plans, the FCC states that since 2011 it received “thousands of complaints from AT&T’s unlimited data plan customers” objecting to AT&T’s throttling.  Chairman Wheeler praised the proposed fine, emphasizing that “[b]roadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide” and that “the FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.” By contrast, Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly defended AT&T, stating that the carrier was sufficiently transparent by way of various website, point-of-sale, and billing notices.  This is the second federal action against AT&T for the same throttling activity.  Last year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued AT&T alleging violations of the FTC Act.

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