“The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited.” -- FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez

It was only a matter of time before the federal government would come knocking on AT&T’s door with regards to its data throttling practices. Customers that have grandfathered “unlimited” data plans have found their data services throttled back significantly when they cross a certain threshold (set by AT&T) of data usage. At times, AT&T throttled users after only 2GB of data was consumed, but that threshold was later raised to 5GB for users with unlimited LTE data plans (3GB for unlimited 3G data plans).
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), such actions have reduced speeds for some AT&T customers on unlimited plans by as much as 90 percent.
The FTC has finally had enough of AT&T’s shenanigans and is taking the wireless carrier to court for “[Misleading] millions of its smartphone customers" through “deceptive” and “unfair” business practices.
“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 FTC says that AT&T has throttled over 3.5 million customers a collective 25 million times since its policy to curb “data hogs” was put into play.
The FTC even took to Twitter, showing a little bit of sass, as it dared other wireless carriers to try pulling a fast one on customers:

What’s interesting is that AT&T has been throttling unlimited data customers for using as little as 5GB of data in a month, while at the same time doubling the data pools available to other customers. AT&T — along with Sprint and Verizon Wireless — offered a massive data giveaway earlier this month, giving customers with Mobile Share Value plans of 15GB or more double their current allotment.
Resourceful customers that called in to AT&T’s retention department were even able to get 1GB, 2G, and 10GB Mobile Share Value plans doubled via the current “Double the Data” promotion.
Verizon Wireless announced its own plans over the summer to throttle unlimited customers that used more than 4.7GB within a billing cycle. But after getting pushback from both consumers and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the company backed down from pursuing those plans.

Updated 10/28/2014 @ 3:26pm EST
AT&T has provided the following statement in response to the FTC lawsuit:
The FTC’s allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program. It’s baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts.
We have been completely transparent with customers since the very beginning. We informed all unlimited data-plan customers via bill notices and a national press release that resulted in nearly 2,000 news stories, well before the program was implemented.  In addition, this program has affected only about 3% of our customers, and before any customer is affected, they are also notified by text message.

Sources: FTC, FTC via Twitter

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