Judge orders AT&T to pay $850 to customer over data throttling

When AT&T introduced its new tiered data plans in 2010, it only kept the unlimited plan for original iPhone owners who didn’t choose to join a new plan. As time passed, AT&T announced in July of 2011 that they would begin throttling unlimited users who fell under the top 5% of heaviest data users. On average, it takes around 10GB to reach the top 5%.

However, over the last few months, many users have reported AT&T is throttling their unlimited data plan when they’re only at 2GB of data used. A southern Californian man took action and sued AT&T in small claims court. A judge ruled in the customer’s favor, who was awarded $850…

Spaccarelli said his phone is being throttled after he’s used 1.5 gigabytes to 2 gigabytes of data within a new billing cycle. Meanwhile, AT&T provides 3 gigabytes of data to subscribers on a tiered plan that costs the same — $30 per month.

The unlimited data plan costs $30 per month and AT&T’s new 3GB data plan is priced the same. Many users feel that it’s unfair to be throttled at 2GB, when users under the 3GB plan aren’t throttled.

Currently, a surprising 17 million users are still on AT&T’s unlimited data plan — which represents about half of their network. That means a large amount of customers could also challenge AT&T in small claims court.

There’s no word if AT&T will appeal the California court’s decision to award the upset customer $850.

The court chose to award the man $85 for each of the 10 months left on his AT&T contract. He earned almost a year of free phone service. Not bad.

Verizon and T-Mobile also throttle users, but are much gentler with their policies.

Are you among the customers being throttled?