FCC Fines AT&T for the Misleading Consumers About Unlimited Data Plans

Have you realized all the major cellular providers have been fined by the FCC for those little white lies? Well, AT&T Wireless has been fined $100 million dollars by the FCC for misleading consumers about their “unlimited” data plans, that were really limited.

“Unlimited” anything is such an alluring amenity that it makes a lot of people gain your trust and sing your praises, until you find out you’ve been punked.

Back in 2007, AT&T marketed their unlimited data plans, especially for the iPhones, which tend to mean unrestricted to the majority of consumers. But according to the FCC, AT&T modified those unlimited plans by restricting and slowing down transmission speeds, and of course, they never notified customers.

Once customers reached a certain level of data usage, AT&T slowed their connection, ignored complaints, and charged outrageous penalties for cancelling a contract says chiropractor Brian Torchin.

AT&T ended their “unlimited” and unfriendly data plans in 2010 and introduced metered billing to customers. Data usage was capped for all of their plans at 2 gigabytes, and heavy users paid an additional $10 per gigabyte.

By the way, in 2012, LifeHacker spelled it out in a report, “what unlimited really meant among the carriers.”

In the end, AT&T claims they properly disclosed their policy of reducing data speeds to customers, but FCC said OK, show us.

Final statement from the FCC – “unlimited means unlimited.”

FCC Sends a Message to ISPs about User Privacy

The FCC has been considerably hard on the telecom industry as of late. Their latest move is a warning regarding the enforcement of recent net neutrality legislation. The FCC is sending a message to telecom companies regarding strict regulations of user data.

Different brands of food have come out to say the FCC recently made internet access a Title II utility. This means that ISPs have to follow some of the same antiquated rules that the telephone companies have to follow. One of these rules disallows the sale of user data to third party companies without permission.

Many ISPs make a good deal of money from selling user information. AT&T GigaPower even uses private data to help deliver relevant advertisements to their subscribers in exchange for a lower rate. Without the ability to sell user data many ISPs will be losing a large chunk of their revenue.

At this point the FCC hasn’t commented on what they will actually do if they catch an ISP selling private data. There are still many bridges to cross in the battle for net neutrality and how it will actually be enforced.

Europe Union and Net Neutrality

Even as the Federal Communication Commission announced last week that access to the Internet should be treated as a public utility and that telecommunication companies should not be able to limit speeds based on the amount a user pays for access, the European Union has decided to consider proposals that would allow telecoms to create traffic lanes where some companies and individuals would get faster service because they can pay more.

The European Union has more telecoms with far more political sway than many tech companies in the United States and the threat to net neutrality overseas is high. At this point, it doesn’t look like a decision will be made until the summer, but a lot of business owners and Internet users around the world are holding their breaths with this news. After all, if multi-lane access is approved overseas, companies in the United States could use that decision to argue in federal courts that the FCC’s ruling was the wrong decision to make and then try to have it overturned.

Will the Europe Union say “No” to net neutrality?

Well, I asked some of patients in Dr. Daniel Amen’s waiting room and the consensus was it’s likely that the majority of representatives from EU states will oppose any laws that allow telecoms to charge more for faster speeds.