"AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "The issue here is simple: "unlimited" means unlimited."
The complaint alleges that, even as unlimited plan consumers renewed their contracts, the company still failed to inform them of the throttling program. When customers canceled their contracts after being throttled, AT&T charged those customers early termination fees, which typically amount to hundreds of dollars.
The FTC alleges that AT&T, despite its promises of unlimited data, began throttling data speeds in 2011 for its unlimited data plan customers after they used as little as 2 gigabytes of data in a billing period. According to the complaint, the throttling program has been severe, often resulting in speed reductions of 80 to 90 percent for affected users. Thus far, according to the FTC, AT&T has throttled at least 3.5 million unique customers a total of more than 25 million times.
AT&T documents also showed that the company received thousands of complaints about the slow data speeds under the throttling program. Many consumers also complained about the effect the throttling program had on their ability to use GPS navigation, watch streaming videos, listen to streaming music and browse the web.