The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday said it planned to fine AT&T $100 million for misleading customers about their unlimited data plans.
The $100 million fine will be the largest fine proposal of this type by the FCC. They accuse AT&T of not informing consumers enough about the “throttling” or reduction in speeds that would occur when those customers exceeded a certain data cap.
The FCC believes AT&T failed to inform consumers about when speeds would be throttled, what speeds they would receive after throttling, and how that might affect video streaming applications. The failure to disclose that information put AT&T in violation of the 2010 Open Internet order.
“Unlimited means unlimited,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said in a statement. “The Commission is committed to holding accountable those broadband providers who fail to be fully transparent about data limits.”
A Democratic majority on the FCC Commission approved the maximum fine by a vote of 3-2. AT&T must respond in 30 days to the charges, and that response must be reviewed by the five-member commission.
“We will vigorously dispute the FCC’s assertions,” an AT&T spokesman said in a statement.
AT&T insists it made consumers aware of its throttling practices on its website, via texts and by statements on their bills.
AT&T and a number of other cable and wireless industry groups are fighting the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality regulations in court. The FCC also has another lawsuit pending against AT&T concerning its unlimited data practices.