Speed Throttling for Unlimited Users: Enraged AT&T Customers Rebel

speed throttling by AT&T charges
Written by Kyle McCarthy

The FCC hit AT&T with a $100-million fine for speed throttling customers who paid for unlimited data plans. A customer uprising on Twitter results. Here’s Kyle McCarthy with a closer look …

aNewDomain — Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hit AT&T with a $100-million fine, accusing the company of throttling speeds for customers who thought they had unlimited data plans.

Check out details of the complaint and my analysis below the fold. And check out this video.

According the FCC, “millions of AT&T customers were affected. The customers who were subject to speed reductions were slowed for an average of 12 days per billing cycle, significantly impeding their ability to use common data applications such as GPS mapping or streaming video.”

In the complaint, the FCC notes that AT&T has been “using the misleading and inaccurate term ‘unlimited’ to label a data plan that was in fact subject to prolonged speed reductions after a customer used a set amount of data,” as well as “failing to disclose the express speed reductions that it applied to ‘unlimited’ data plan customers once they hit a specified data threshold.”

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission also filed a complaint against AT&T, accusing the company of misleading smartphone customers with unlimited data plans and slowing down their data speeds by as much a 90 percent.

Since the FCC’s announcement, AT&T customers have taken their outrage to Twitter, posting screenshots of text messages they are now receiving from the company stating they are close to exceeding their allotted five gigabyte threshold. Once that has been exceeded they “may experience reduced data speeds at times and in areas that are experiencing network congestion.”

One AT&T customer who posted a screenshot to Twitter is Bobby Hoyt. Hoyt also posted on his blog about the issue and told me,

I recently renewed a 2 year contract with AT&T and now, a week later, I received this data throttling text. Unlimited data is a huge reason I’ve stayed with AT&T so long, but 5GB is clearly a limit. This will be my last contract with AT&T after being with them for over 10 years. You don’t reward customer loyalty with poor service and poor product quality.

In 2007, AT&T began offering unlimited data plans for users, but in 2011, the company started capping data speeds for unlimited customers after certain data thresholds were eclipsed. Not surprisingly, since AT&T made this change in 2011, the FCC has received thousands of complaints from AT&T customers. A quick search for “AT&T” at ConsumerAffairs.com also brings up thousands of complaints about the company.

Those interested in filing a complaint with the FCC, can do so at

If you are able to access the internet, of course …

For aNewDomain, I’m Kyle McCarthy.