The Federal Communications Commission has fined the country’s second-largest cellular carrier, AT&T, with the largest fine they have ever issued: $100,000,000. That’s a hundred million dollars. The FCC is accusing AT&T for violating the FCC’s rules on corporate transparency, claiming that AT&T has been improperly “throttling” internet speeds for customers who thought they were paying for “unlimited” data.
The Federal Communications Commission has revealed that when AT&T customers surpass a certain data threshold, AT&T would improperly slow down their internet speeds. AT&T has been utilizing this practice since 2011, eliciting thousands of complaints to the FCC from thousands of AT&T customers. The FCC believes that AT&T violated their rules on corporate transparency by not correctly disclosing their policy to their customers. Many AT&T customers were misled into signing up for “unlimited” data plans. This practice has affected millions of AT&T customers. Unfortunately for these customers, they are very unlikely to receive any money from this fine. Instead, the money will go to the United States Treasury.
"Consumers deserve to get what they pay for,” said FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler. “Broadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide. The FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.”
AT & T has disputed these charges and claims that they will fight this fine. The company said in a statement, “The FCC has specifically identified this practice as a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers, and has known for years that all of the major carriers use it.”
For AT&T, this fine comes at a precarious time, as they are currently trying to persuade regulators to approve its $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV, the county’s largest satellite TV provider.
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