FCC Hits AT&T With a $100 Million Fine for Its ‘Unlimited Data’ Ads

Agency says telecom slowed data speeds

The Federal Communications Commission today announced that it plans to punish AT&T to the tune of $100 million for allegedly misleading consumers about unlimited wireless data plans, according to multiple reports. 

The FCC contends that the telecom giant sold data plans advertised as unlimited only to slow down customers' data speeds after they went over a data-usage threshold in a billing period. The FCC found that millions of AT&T customers were affected by the practice, which was implemented in 2011 and prompted thousands of complaints to the agency. 

"Consumers deserve to get what they pay for," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, according to The Washington Post. "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."

An AT&T rep said the company plans on "vigorously disputing the FCC's assertions," according to a Wall Street Journal report, which also quoted the spokesperson as saying the agency previously identified AT&T's "unlimited data" tactic as a legitimate method of managing its network.

The FCC originally announced the investigation in October, but the fine wasn't revealed until today.