By Edward Cardenas

SOUTHFIELD (CBS Detroit) – The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday that it plans to fine AT&T Mobility, LLC, $100 million for misleading its customers about unlimited mobile data plans.

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A FCC investigation alleges that AT&T “severely slowed down the data speeds for customers with unlimited data plans” and the company failed to notify its
customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised.

“Consumers deserve to get what they pay for,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in a release. “Broadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide. The FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.”

According to the Commission, AT&T is charged with violating the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule by falsely labeling these plans as “unlimited” and by failing to sufficiently inform customers of the maximum speed they would receive under the Maximum Bit Rate policy.

AT&T’s unlimited data plans allowed customers to use unrestricted
amounts of data. While the company no longer offers these plans to new customers, it allows current unlimited customers to renew their plans for data plans that continue to be labeled as “unlimited.”

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The company implemented a “Maximum Bit Rate” policy in 2011 and capped the maximum data speeds for unlimited customers after they used a set amount of data within a billing cycle, the FCC stated.

The capped speeds were much slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised and “significantly impaired the ability of AT&T customers to access the Internet or use data applications for the remainder of the billing cycle,” FCC stated in a release.

“Unlimited means unlimited,” said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc, in a release. “As today’s action demonstrates, the Commission is committed to holding accountable those broadband providers who fail to be fully transparent about data limits.”

The charges stem from thousands of complaints the FCC has received since 2011 from AT&T’s unlimited data plan customers who stated they “were surprised and felt misled by AT&T’s policy of intentionally
reducing their speeds.”

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AT&T has not posted a response to the proposed fine.