It looks like that despite the ban on the throttling of data by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Net Neutrality rules, AT&T will continue to impose this practice on its paying customers. AT&T has some of the toughest throttling of data for customers who still have grandfathered unlimited data plans in the industry. Carriers like Verizon only throttle data of unlimited data plan users after a certain threshold has been reached, and then only on congested towers or at certain times of the day. Unlike Verizon, AT&T will throttle customers who have unlimited data after just 5GB of data. There are no provisions for congested towers or peak usage times. This throttled data will last the remainder of your billing cycle. It also applies to all users, not just heavy data users.
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The FCC’s Net Neutrality rules should be putting practices such as AT&T’s to an end. However despite questions by reporters regarding the matter, the FCC has claimed that it will handle these situations on a case-by-case basis. This would mean that someone would have to file a formal grievance with the FCC to have the matter evaluated to determine if any rule violations have taken place and if any sanctions of changes of policy need to be imposed on the carrier. The FCC is faced with several issues concerning this decision. First they have to determine if throttling data would be considered failing to provide services as promised to customers over something harsher such as revoking coverage altogether. Then there is the other issues that providers have been using to justify the practice of throttling users on unlimited data plans due to “network management.” The FCC and carriers view network management differently. Carriers feel that if certain customers use more data than the average consumer, they are putting a huge burden on the system, thus ruining performance for other customers who they feel use data appropriately. The FCC views network management as technical issues with the network and not a justification that is used to force customers with unlimited data plans to move to a more costly limited data plan that caps the customer’s data usage and imposes large overage fee’s if the consumer goes over their limit.
The new Net Neutrality laws will not go into effect for a few more months and any action that would be leveraged against AT&T would take some time to duke out, so for now AT&T can thumb their nose at the FCC. That is unless customers spoke out with their wallets and moved their service somewhere else. Either way the customer will lose their unlimited data. Net Neutrality laws are set to stop this kind of practice by the carriers, and hopefully the FCC will make a decision as to how it intends to handle the issues raised by customers of AT&T.