AT&T pulling back on throttling of unlimited LTE customers

AT&T Chicago store (interior 001)

AT&T is pulling back on its throttling efforts against unlimited LTE customers, reports ArsTechnica. The site noticed that the carrier recently changed its policy to say that it will only throttle users with unlimited LTE data plans who have both exceeded 5GB in a billing cycle and are in an area experiencing network congestion.

Previously, AT&T’s policy said that unlimited LTE users could experience slower data speeds after reaching 5GB, with no mention of location. The change comes after customers complained the carrier’s throttling—some reported speeds as slow as 0.5Mbps—was part of its strategy to sway them away from their unlimited plans.

In fact, AT&T is facing a lawsuit from the Federal Trade commission over the practice. And despite the change, it could still face serious repercussions if it loses that battle. The FTC is seeking refunds for millions of customers who were promised unlimited data plans. Of course, the carrier denies that it’s done anything wrong.

The FCC could also get involved. The Commission’s new net neutrality rules say that throttling can only be done by carriers for “reasonable network management purposes.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has publicly criticized AT&T, Verizon and others for trying to use this as a loophole to force customers into more profitable plans.

Source: ArsTechnica