The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against AT&T Mobility, alleging that the carrier misled as many as 3.5 million customers with legacy unlimited data plans by throttling their data speeds and changing the terms of their plans. AT&T said the lawsuit does not have any merit.
Verizon Wireless abandoned plans to throttle the data speeds of customers who are on legacy unlimited data plans who crossed into 5 percent of data users on Verizon's LTE network when they are on high-traffic cell sites.
Two can play that game, according to Sprint. For a limited time, the carrier is doubling the data on some of its shared data plans, just days after AT&T Mobility offered to do the same for its shared plans.
T-Mobile US said it may throttle the data speeds of its subscribers with unlimited data plans who engage in peer-to-peer file sharing or use their phones as modems to download continuous and automatic data feeds.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that just because other wireless carriers also throttle customers' data speeds does not mean that Verizon Wireless is in the clear in doing so for some of its customers on legacy unlimited data plans. He said he is concerned that such plans have commercial motives and indicated that the FCC has asked all Tier 1 carriers about their throttling practices.
Verizon Wireless said in a letter to the FCC that its new "network optimization" policy on its LTE network is "a measured and fair step" that will ensure that heavy wireless data users "not disadvantage all others in the sharing of network resources during times of high demand." The carrier also said the practice is widely used among wireless carriers.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead he is "deeply troubled" by the carrier's decision to start slowing down the speeds of some customers who still have legacy unlimited data plans and who cross into the top 5 percent of heavy data users on Verizon's LTE network when they are on high-traffic cell sites.
Starting in the fourth quarter, Verizon Wireless customers who still have legacy unlimited data plans who cross into the top 5 percent of data users on Verizon's LTE network could see their speeds slowed when they are on high-traffic cell sites.
Sprint's pledge of unlimited data is looking increasingly less sustainable, as the carrier maneuvers to rein in network traffic generated by its heaviest data users and ensure quality of service for the majority of its customers.
Sprint prepaid brands Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile will throttle the speeds of heavy data users to slower speeds starting in May, apparently the result of increased smartphone penetration and data usage in the brands.