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FCC Proposes $100M Fine on AT&T Mobility

Will impose the agency's largest proposed fine to date for misleading customers, throttling data

WASHINGTON�The FCC said it plans to fine AT&T Mobility $100 million for misleading customers about its “unlimited” mobile data plans, imposing the agency’s largest proposed fine to date, in alleging that the carrier “severely” slowed down the data speeds for customers with such plans.

The commission said two things in particular about AT&Ts actions:

�������AT&T failed to adequately notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised, and

�������AT&T’s violated the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, a set of rules that regulate telecom service providers’ conduct.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that the 2010 Open Internet order transparency rules are explicit that there had to be “sufficient explanation” of carrier activities. He said in this instance, the term “unlimited” that AT&T used wasn’t unlimited and the policy wasn’t explained, according�

“They said that it [the policy] applies to the top 5 percent of data subscribers. How am I supposed to know I am in the top 5 percent,” he said. “How is that a sufficient explanation?”

While demand for mobile data continues to increase, wireless carriers have tightened access to their networks for heavy users as a way to manage traffic and boost revenue, according to an article

�In recent years, they’ve introduced tier-pricing for varying levels of data allotments, charging higher fees for those who go over monthly limits. And for the carriers that still offer “unlimited” data plans, cutting back on speeds after a certain amount of used data � a practice known as “throttling” � has become more common, though the practice typically comes with a consumer notice.�