Published: Thu, October 20, 2016
Tech | By Dwayne Harmon

Mobile, FCC Settle Over 'Unlimited' Dispute

Mobile, FCC Settle Over 'Unlimited' Dispute

T-Mobile US has agreed to pay the US comms watchdog the FCC $48m to settle claims that it illegally throttled the connections of some unlimited-plan data users.

T-Mobile will have to pay $48 million in fines and customer benefits after reaching a settlement with the FCC over the way the wireless carrier promoted its unlimited data plans.

AT&T is contesting a $100 million fine proposed by the FCC a year ago for inadequate disclosure about similar so-called throttling of data speeds in unlimited plans. Since 2010, the FCC requires broadband internet providers to give accurate and sufficient information to consumers about their services.

Under the settlement, some T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers will be offered discounts for in-stock accessories and additional data if they have a mobile internet data line.

The news takes on even greater significance in light of the carrier's efforts to promote unlimited data plans to all its customers.

The company also will be required to notify customers when their data usage approaches the monthly threshold and re-word how pertinent policies are described or discontinue those policies.

As a result of the settlement, T-Mobile agreed to better explain its messaging around the "unlimited" plans.

The FCC says T-Mobile and MetroPCS will alert their subscribers of those incentives by December 15.

T-Mobile has not admitted the company intentionally misled customers.

T-Mobile must also donate $5 million to help bridge the "homework gap", providing mobile devices and data to underprivileged high school students across the United States starting in October 2017.

Today, AT&T says on its website (also in small print) that it slows down heavy users' data speeds after 22 GB are used in a month if there is network congestion.

In June 2015, the FCC voted 3-2 to propose a $100 million fine against AT&T's Mobility unit for misleading customers about unlimited mobile data plans. This is the FCC's second action addressing disclosures for "unlimited" data plans that are subject to fixed data thresholds and speed reductions. A $7.5 million fine is to be paid directly to the U.S. Treasury and $5 million will be donated for school services and equipment. As many as 80,000 children are expected to benefit from the program, which begins next October, according to the FCC.

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