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AT&T Files To Have FTC Lawsuit Over Unlimited Data Throttling Thrown Out

January 9, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

When news hit the wire that AT&T was going to be throttling their unlimited data customers it was a pretty big deal for those customers, because it meant that essentially AT&T was trying to take something away from them that they had already paid for. This was the argument laid at AT&T’s feet by members of the FTC before the practice actually went into place. AT&T had their own arguments stating that it would only be affecting a very small amount of their users, and was only meant to hit the subscribers with the very highest data consumption, so that AT&T might make the network and data traffic usage a fair environment and experience for their customer base as a whole. The FTC though believes that AT&T is using it as a means of deceptive business practice, to get those unlimited data customers to move off of those plans to newer, more expensive data packages that wouldn’t be affected by the throttling.

Later last year the FTC filed a lawsuit against AT&T over the throttling of customers who had those unlimited data plans, and now AT&T has filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in an attempt to get the lawsuit thrown out, with an argument that the FTC shouldn’t be allowed to prevent the carrier from throttling because AT&T is a common carrier. Since it’s a common carrier any matters regarding the throttling of data or any other matters, AT&T states resides with the FCC and not the FTC.

Whether or not AT&T or the FTC ends up being deemed the correct party in this lawsuit, AT&T’s recent settlement over SMS cramming charges(which was a case brought by the FTC as well)may end up backfiring on them in this case where they state the FTC has no control over them in any sense due to Section 5 of the FTC Act, which states that FTC has no jurisdiction over common carrier matters. The FTC is arguing that since the lawsuit was based on issues over mobile broadband,(which it states is not a common carrier matter)that they do have jurisdiction with the lawsuit over the throttling of the unlimited mobile data. At the very face of things, it seems AT&T is OK with the FTC’s jurisdiction over the cramming charges but not with the lawsuit over data throttling. Do you subscribe to AT&T and if so, do you have an unlimited data plan that would have been affected by the throttling?