Judge Rules Against AT&T on “Unlimited” Data Throttling

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Earlier this month, we told you what was happening to many AT&T subscribers who had been grandfathered into the carrier’s unlimited data plan; even with monthly data consumption falling way short of the 3GB many users on tiered plans are allocated, these users saw their data connections throttled. At the time, we talked about how flat-out unfair this was of the carrier, and how it seemed to go far beyond what anyone could argue as reasonable network management. It looks like we’re not the only ones to feel that way, with a judge resolving a lawsuit one subscriber filed against AT&T in the customer’s favor.

AT&T subscriber Matt Spaccarelli found his “unlimited” data plan being throttled at what he claims was between 1.5GB and 2GB of monthly bandwidth. Not about to take this lying down, Spaccarelli filed a suit in small claims court against AT&T. After he laid his case out before the court, AT&T argued in response that it was free to change the terms of subscriber contracts, or even terminate them outright, if it decided that the subscriber was causing adverse network usage.

Apparently Judge Russell Nadel was thinking along the same lines as us, because he wasn’t buying this argument in the face of users on tiered data plans consuming just as much data as those on unlimited plans, but not being singled-out for “adverse usage”.

In the end, Spaccarelli didn’t get the thousands of dollars he was hoping for, and there’s no sign AT&T is about to change its tune, but this is still a victory for the little guy, with the court awarding him $85 a month for the remainder of his contract with AT&T. If more individual users start pursuing similar legal action, especially with a precedent on the books, AT&T might just find itself forced to rethink its policies.

Source: Associated Press

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bitsRead more about Stephen Schenck!