AT&T loses unlimited data throttling case, forced to pay iPhone owner $935


As previous reported by CBS News, cellular service and data provider AT&T was attempting to silence 39-year-old, California resident Matt Spaccarelli with a non-disclosure agreement after the man won a court case against AT&T regarding data throttling. While announcing intentions to throttle customers during late 2011, AT&T didn’t being throttling high-data users down to 2G download speeds until mid-December 2011. During February 2012, Spaccarelli noticed that AT&T started decreasing the data speed on his iPhone after consuming 1.5 to 2.0 gigabytes of data during a billing cycle. Spaccarelli’s iPhone is currently on the grandfathered unlimited data plan that AT&T discontinued during June 2010.

at&t iphone 4SAccording to an interview with Mashable, Spaccarelli’s download speed on his iPhone over AT&T’s network is approximately 0.31 Mbps in the Simi Valley area outside Los Angeles, a far cry from the nationwide average of 1.7 Mbps. While text messaging and voice calls were unaffected by the change, Spaccarelli was unable to stream video and browsing the Web become incredibly slow. Spaccarelli also purchased a second iPhone with a sim card from Straight Talk and was able to get a 3.83 Mbps download speed in the same location on AT&T’s 3G network.

Spaccarelli brought the case against AT&T in a small-claims court and Judge Russell Nadel ruled that AT&T violated the terms of the unlimited data plan. The judge ordered that AT&T issue Spaccarelli a payment of $850, an estimation of the data usage over the remainder of Spaccarelli’s contract, plus $85 for court costs. Spaccerelli tweeted a picture of the cashier’s check yesterday on his Twitter account with the phrase “It’s official! I win! Thanks for all the support,” in addition to tagging AT&T’s official Twitter account in the message.


While Spaccarelli’s win in the case may inspire other AT&T customers to pursue legal action against the service provider, a letter from the law firm representing AT&T indicates that Spaccarelli violated the AT&T agreement by tethering the iPhone 4 to a computer. As detailed on a blog post at PublikDemand, the letter mentioned that AT&T could cut off Spaccarelli’s service for the tethering violation before attempting to encourage him to sign a non-disclosure agreement in regards to the court case.  

Spaccarelli refused to sign the agreement and has continued to remain vocal about the case on his own site in addition to interviews in various national publications. AT&T doesn’t plan on appealing the verdict and previously announced plans to halt throttling on the top five percent of high data users. Instead, the company will throttle all users that consume more than 3GB of data in a billing cycle. Incidentally, 3GB is the current cap on data for users that sign up for a new service plan with the company.  

According to Spaccarelli, he plans to use the money to obtain a new smartphone using a different service provider in addition to traveling to the AT&T stockholders meeting held during April 2012 within Salt Lake City, Utah. Since a clause in the AT&T contract prevents consumers from getting together to form a class-action lawsuit regarding data-throttling, unlimited data users have to use binding arbitration or small-claims court to go after AT&T. While binding arbitration typically requires silence from both parties after resolution, small-claims court doesn’t have this restriction. 

Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.

Worried about extra data charges? Here's how to check your usage on an iPhone

It's common to get a little nervous about nearing data limits. Keep your peace of mind by checking how much data your iPhone is using. Our guide on how to check data usage on an iPhone helps you stay in control.

Got a PDF but need an Excel document? Here's how to make the switch

If you have a PDF file full of useful data you'd love to extract into an Excel document, we're here to help. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps for how to convert a PDF into an Excel document.

You can now get Google Fi SIM cards straight from Best Buy

Google's wireless service known as Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi. The company also announced the service is now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about…

How to check your IMEI number on an iPhone, Android, or other device

If you're wondering how to check your IMEI number, then this guide will show you how to do it, regardless of what phone you have. You can find your IMEI number using the dialer, in settings, or in a couple of other places.

Need more power now? Here's how you can fast charge your iPhone

The new iPhones have almost everything an iOS addict could want -- except for a fast charger. If you need your iPhone powered back up in a hurry, here's everything you need to know to get your iPhone charged up quickly.

The Apollo Traveller is the fastest recharging power bank we’ve ever used

Power banks are getting better all the time, but the Apollo Traveller from Elecjet hits new heights in terms of charging and recharging speeds thanks to the use of a graphene composite for cooling. Here's what happened when we tried it out.

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for February 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

These are the 6 best free antivirus apps to help protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as choosing from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.

Get ready for new AirPods, MacBooks as rumored dates for Apple WWDC 2019 emerge

Apple developers and fans alike look forward, every year, to the company's World Wide Developer Conference, WWDC, and for this year, we already have the rumored dates that might bring us Apple's latest tech announcements.

This Mac keyboard is slim, dark, and clicky, but it’s still not perfect

There aren't many great mechanical keyboards for Macs. The Keychron K1 is just the latest attempt to join that hallowed group, but does its blend of style and substance tick all the boxes?

These 30 useful apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find.

Need a date for Valentine's Day? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.

One of these monitors will look great next to your new MacBook Pro

Apple doesn't make its beloved Cinema Display monitors anymore, which makes finding the best monitor for the MacBook Pro more difficult. In this guide, we break down some of our favorites and offer something for every size and budget.