T-Mobile paying out $48 million in settlement with FCC over “unlimited” throttling
It’s the hidden catches that make “unlimited” not what it seems to be. In the case of T-Mobile, the Un-carrier, it turns out that it did not tell customers on its unlimited data plan back in 2015 that their speeds would be throttled if they used too much data in a month. So, the Federal Communications Commission is making the network pay a price.
More on the throttling first, though. The FCC found in an investigation last year that T-Mobile and its prepaid subsidiary, MetroPCS, throttled down data speeds for its top 3 percent of users — the threshold seems to have been around 17GB.
Users were not sufficiently notified that the policy was in place nor when they were being de-prioritized for other traffic in “high contention” areas, which led to complaints pouring in about how customers feeling like they only could use “half” the data they wanted to on the plan.
So, in addition to improving disclosure and execution for any de-prioritization practices, T-Mobile will pay out $35.5 million to customers in the form of “benefits” like 20 percent off in-stock accessories up to $100 and, for those on the Simple Choice MINT plan or a MetroPCS tablet plan, 4GB of extra data. Another $7.5 million will forfeited to the FCC and a further $5 million will be used to provide 80,000 students in low-income households with free devices and service — sorta like what Sprint is doing right now.
CEO John Legere tweeted that he was glad the settlement was made.