Mobile fined $48 million over slowing ‘unlimited’ data plans

Mobile fined $48 million over slowing ‘unlimited’ data plans

The latest wireless company to come under the watchful eye of the FCC is none other than T-Mobile, which has long touted its unlimited data plans as an advantage over its competition.$7.5 million will be dedicated to the actual FCC fine, while $35.5 million will reserved for “customer benefits” for T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers on unlimited data plans.The FCC said it received hundreds of complaints from subscribers at T-Mobile and MetroPCS (a T-Mobile subsidiary) starting in 2015, saying that mobile data became virtually unusable during certain hours of the day.AT&T is contesting a $100 million fine proposed by the FCC past year for inadequate disclosure about similar so-called throttling of data speeds in unlimited plans. The FCC said this violates its 2010 Open Internet order that requires internet providers like T-Mobile to disclose accurate information about its service.The settlement resolves an FCC investigation that began previous year into whether the company adequately disclosed that data speeds could be slowed or even halted for heavy users during periods of network congestion, the agency said.This isn’t the first time the agency has gone after the limits of unlimited plans.The company also will be required to notify customers when their data usage approaches the monthly threshold and re-word how pertinent policies are described or discontinue those policies. The company will provide free internet service on devices for children in low-income school districts.T-Mobile failed to adequately inform its unlimited data plan customers that, under a “Top 3 Percent Policy”, their data would be slowed at times if they used more than 17 gigabytes in a given month, the FCC said. Customers were unaware in advance that they were having their connections intentionally slowed down. And $5 million will go toward expanding access to the internet for poorer children. “With today’s settlement, T-Mobile has stepped up to the plate to ensure that its customers have the full information they need to decide whether “unlimited’ data plans are right for them”. T-Mobile will also provide mobile broadband to the devices at a reduced cost to the schools, and at no cost to the students or their families. Alternatively, T-Mobile can comply by removing the word “unlimited” from the plans, or by no longer throttling unlimited data users. As many as 80,000 children are expected to benefit from the program, which begins next October, according to the FCC.

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