The FCC announced today a proposed $100 million fine of AT&T over allegations the carrier was improperly throttling data speeds for unlimited plan customers and in particular that the company failed to adequately disclose the throttling consumers may face. The plans in question were offered between 2007 and 2010 by AT&T. Although the carrier no longer offers unlimited data plans, subscribers who had such a plan could continue to renew them. The FCC contends AT&T falsely labeled plans subject to the company’s maximum bit rate policy as unlimited and failed to adequately inform customers of the maximum speeds they would have available. Read more
Late last year, despite claims that throttling on legacy 4G plans was not automatic, users discovered that AT&T was in fact throttling data speeds whether the network was congested or not. The carrier promised to change the policy sometime during 2015 and it looks like the time may have come based on a change to some information on their web site. Read more
The FTC has ruled against TracFone in a case involving their “unlimited data,” forcing the prepaid company to pay out $40 million to customers that were mislead about just how unlimited TracFone’s data actually is. Like tons of other carriers, TracFone offers an unlimited data plan that’s throttled after a certain cap is hit. The FTC isn’t particularly fond of those kinds of plans, which they’ve mentioned in the past.
According to the FTC, data speeds were slowed down between 1 and 3 GB and were sometimes completely cut off once customers hit the 5 GB limit. The FTC might have been more lenient if TracFone wasn’t cutting data off completely and just sticking to throttling, but it’s a tough call knowing that the FTC dislikes throttled data plans anyway. Read more
Although AT&T reportedly implemented measures to ensure customers who had legacy unlimited data plans were only getting their speeds throttled when connected to congested network nodes, it appears the throttling is being implemented at all times for users tapping into the carrier’s 4G LTE network. The throttling of 4G LTE customers is implemented a little later than those consumers on 3G plans, only coming into play once a user tops 5 GB of data. Once it hits though, it applies at all times of day and it does not matter whether the network is experiencing any congestion. Read more
Sprint has just launched a new plan for single line users to get a precious unlimited data package. $60 will get you unlimited talk, text, and data for a month, which is a full $20 cheaper a month than T-Mobile. AT&T and Verizon will give you 1 GB for $80/ mo, so they are hardly comparable to this new version of Sprint we’ve been seeing lately. In order to be eligible for this discount, however, you must have a device that’s compatible with the network, purchase one at full price prior to starting the plan, or use Sprint’s monthly payment and upgrade plan.
T-Mobile is launching a new campaign starting next week that aims squarely at Sprint customers. Taking some jabs at Sprint by pointing out how their customers have “suffered” and had to put up with both “the Framily” and the “slowest nationwide LTE network.” T-Mobile is offering a free upgrade to unlimited data for one year when existing T-Mobile customers refer someone to the Uncarrier. Although focused on Sprint, the offer applies to both AT&T and Verizon customers as well. The free upgrade will apply to both the new T-Mobile customer that ports their number over and the existing T-Mobile customer that served as the referral source. If a T-Mobile customer already has an unlimited Simple Choice plan, T-Mobile will give them a $10 per month credit for one year. Read more
Until now, Verizon users that had a line that was grandfathered into an unlimited data plan could upgrade a line for a feature phone to a new and discounted smartphone, and then move the phone over to the unlimited line in order to keep the unlimited data package while still keeping the $9.99 per month feature phone line price. Verizon is reportedly on their way to ending this workaround, by requiring its current subscribers who upgrade or activate a new smartphone on a two year contract to keep their selected data package for the length of their contract.
This change has not yet been confirmed by Verizon Wireless, as it is based on rumors sent to Droid-Life, citing unnamed sources — and _DroidForums.net, but would make sense.
Verizon launched their “Network Optimization” policy back in the Fall of 2011, which at the time meant the company could throttle 3G data speeds for their heaviest users in congested service areas. Unfortunately Verizon is now updating that policy to include wireless users on their 4G LTE network with unlimited data plans. Just how long Verizon will throttle affected users depends on a long list of criteria, in their words, “The customer may continue to be impacted for the rest of the current billing cycle and through the next billing cycle, but only while on a cell site that is experiencing high demand.”
The word “unlimited” is pretty good for marketing purposes— the world definitely has a certain buzz to it, and sounds almost as if you’re getting some kind of good deal (as if those even existed anymore).
US Cellular is now offering a new “No Contract Unlimited Data, Talk & Text” for $50. It’s the same price as the company’s 1GB plan, but there’s a catch. With the new “unlimited” plan, after you go over a cap of 500MB of data, your data speeds will be shot down all the way to 1X (2G) speeds. Ouch.
Hit the break for the fine print.
Over the weekend, a loophole was found on Verizon’s website that allowed customers to upgrade to a new phone and keep their coveted unlimited data plans. If you were among the people to take advantage of Big Red’s folly, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Verizon reached out to Droid-Life, who first reported the news, and said that they would not revert any transactions and would honor those who picked up a new device while keeping their unlimited data plan. Here is the full statement that Verizon provided: