Slow Caution Danger SignThe FCC has fined AT&T $100,000,000 for throttling the users’ data when they reached certain hidden caps in plans AT&T claimed were unlimited.

AT&T implemented the slowdown in 2011 when users would hit a certain limit and get slower and slower, and prompted thousands of complaints on the practice. The failure of AT&T to properly disclose the limits of their “unlimited” plan violated the FCC’s rules on corporate transparency according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Throttled AT&T users were getting roughly 1/60th of the bandwidth that their unthrottled neighbors were getting, which slowed speeds to the equivalent of a dial up service according to an unnamed senior FCC official.

AT&T has said they’ll fight the fine, but failing that AT&T users can probably expect to have that $100 million fine reflected in various fees and price increases passed down to them in their future bills.

Other companies like Sprint at least have claimed unlimited and had a long disclaimer about how much unlimited really is (it’s at their discretion), but with blowbacks coming fast and strong even network technicians throttling the lead data pigs in a region can cause a company to face some major fines that their marketing department didn’t think of when advertising unlimited.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this. If we could get some truth and transparency back in the cell phone companies it would be welcomed. Especially these completely made up network signal strength maps companies keep posting – they’re almost completely made up.

[Washington Post]