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AT&T says the FTC can’t do anything to stop its throttling of ‘unlimited’ data customers

Published Jan 8th, 2015 9:15PM EST
AT&T Unlimited Data Throttling FTC

OK, so it looks like AT&T has been throttling data speeds for customers who have “unlimited” data plans despite the fact that those plans are supposed to be, well, unlimited. Who’s going to do anything about it? The Federal Trade Commission? Well, maybe not. As Ars Technica reports, AT&T doesn’t think the FTC has the jurisdiction to stop them.

RELATED: AT&T hit with a major lawsuit for throttling its ‘unlimited’ data users

“AT&T plainly qualifies as a ‘common carrier’ for purposes of Section 5 because it provides mobile voice services subject to common-carrier regulation under Title II of the Communications Act,” AT&T argued. “The fact that AT&T’s mobile data services are not regulated as common-carrier services under the Communications Act is irrelevant… The FTC cannot rewrite the statute to expand its own jurisdiction.”

In other words, because AT&T as a whole is classified as a regulated common carrier, it’s the Federal Communications Commission’s job to oversee how it handles data on its mobile network… despite the fact that AT&T and other carriers have been howling that the FCC shouldn’t try to oversee how they handle data on their mobile networks through network neutrality rules.

The FTC this past fall sued AT&T for allegedly misleading its customers “by charging them for ‘unlimited’ data plans while reducing their data speeds, in some cases by nearly 90 percent” if they used too much of their “unlimited” data. AT&T has called the charges baseless and is vowing to fight the FTC’s suit.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.

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