AT&T Says Throttling Your Data Is Harmless

Last month AT&T was hit with a $100 million fine from the FCC due to its erstwhile data throttling plan (which hadn't won it any favors with subscribers). The problem with the throttling was where AT&T chose to apply it: to "unlimited data" plans, which, per their name, should not be subjected to data limitations. AT&T doesn't offer unlimited data plans any longer, and it has made it clear it doesn't want the remaining grandfathered plans to remain. As such, the wireless carrier is now pushing back against the FCC.

As of last month's case, the FCC determined that AT&T failed to properly advise its applicable subscribers about the data throttling cap. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had called the alleged failed disclosure "misleading", and said that consumers were "deceived" by such an "insufficient disclosure".

The FCC's Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc drove the point home, saying what wireless subscribers have always been saying: "Unlimited means unlimited." AT&T had closely followed the FCC's conclusion with its own statement, saying in part that it would "vigorously dispute the FCC's assertions."

AT&T has made good on its promise a little over a month later. According to The Hill, AT&T has requested that the FCC drop its $100 million fine proposal. It has also asked that any fine it receive be capped at $16,000 USD, and that at a minimum the other (non-monetary) punishments be halted while waiting for the courts to look into it. The Hill says it has acquired a filing from earlier in July in which AT&T maintains it didn't fail to inform subscribers properly about the throttling plan.

The filing reportedly reads, in part, that:

The Commission's findings that consumers and competition were harmed are devoid of factual support and wholly implausible. Its 'moderate' forfeiture penalty of $100 million is plucked out of thin air, and the injunctive sanctions it proposes are beyond the Commission's authority.

AT&T reportedly stated that it notified its subscribers about the plan on several platforms, including through texts and online.

The FCC claims authority to hit AT&T with a fine because of a 2010 net neutrality order's "transparency" provision under which companies must — in a proper manner — disclose to customers things related to network management. AT&T has reportedly targeted that claimed authority, stating the law has been misread and that the FCC's presumed authority is based on that misreading.

AT&T reportedly said in the filing:

Under any lawful mode of analysis, the fact that AT&T complied with the Transparency Rule's requirements by posting an online disclosure containing the information the Commission required should end this case. AT&T, however, went well beyond the Rule's requirements and directly notified all users affected by the MBR policy in numerous additional ways.

The carrier also is said to have targeted the FCC's alleged use of dictionary definitions taken out of context, and what it considers an "arbitrary and excessive" proposal that the carrier be forced to notify subscribers that it had failed to properly disclose its throttling plan, among other things.

SOURCE: The Hill