AT&T calls FCC’s fine over its throttling “implausible,” says it shouldn’t have to pay

att says it shouldnt have to pay a fine for throttling unlimited customers headquarters logo
Remember that record-breaking fine the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed on AT&T for throttling unwitting subscribers’ data speeds? The carrier isn’t too pleased about it. Yesterday, AT&T petitioned the FCC to reconsider by withdrawing its order, ceasing to enforce certain “non-monetary penalties” (i.e., letting throttled customers abandon their plans without penalty), and ensuring that any revised fine falls below a $16,000 maximum. Its laundry list of demands are justified by the FCC’s “wholly implausible” fine that was “plucked out of thin air,” AT&T said.

The Federal Trade Commission and FCC together allege that AT&T violated the FTC Act by failing to advertise, or even adhere to, its “network optimization” policies. It failed to articulate its throttling rules in marketing materials and to customers, and millions of subscribers with grandfathered “unlimited” data plans had their transfers reduced — sometimes to dial-up speeds — over a period of years. Often, traffic-shaping would take effect unpredictably — although AT&T purported to throttle only the “top 5 percent of users” at congested cell sites, the FCC and FTC say that it reduced customers’ speeds after as little as 2GB of usage.

AT&T disagrees. It disavows any accusations of wrongdoing — the carrier says it posted notices about its network policies online and texted affected customers when their transfers were slowed — and argues that the FCC is overstepping its regulatory bounds.

The commission says its authority to leverage fines against AT&T flows from the 2010 Open Internet Order, a net neutrality directive that in part requires Internet service providers to disclose their network management policies. AT&T argues that the FCC “quotes a portion of the [directive] that does not apply to congestion management practices, but alters the quotation to pretend that it does,” and says that the FCC used “dictionary definitions it took out of context to make its case.” Even if it did, AT&T asserts that the point is moot — the statute of limitations on its alleged misconduct has already lapsed, the carrier says.

AT&T is unlikely to find favor with a commission that’s proven especially tough on ISPs with “dishonest” optimization policies. In January, the FCC reached a $40 million settlement with TracFone relating to opaque throttling, and commission chairman Tom Wheeler sent a strongly-worded letter to Verizon last year regarding the carrier’s intention to begin reducing “unlimited” customers’ speeds.

Mobile

AT&T jumps the gun with deliberately misleading 5GE launch

As excitement about 5G networks continues to build, AT&T jumps the gun with a ridiculous and deliberate attempt to deceive the public with 5G Evolution – a speed bump that’s based on improvements to 4G tech.
Home Theater

Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is the epic sound revolution you didn’t know you needed

After Sony’s utterly bizarre press conference, I almost missed what was perhaps the most impactful sonic experience at the show. Luckily, I went back to Sony’s booth on the last day of the show, only to have my mind blown.
Mobile

Apple AirPods may be used to spy on conversations, but please don’t

Apple added Live Listen to the AirPods through the iOS 12 update last September, to help users with minor hearing issues. However, a viral tweet is suggesting that the feature may be used to eavesdrop on the conversations of other people.
Music

Tidal faces legal jeopardy over fake stream numbers accusation

In another challenging chapter for music subscription service Tidal, Norwegian authorities have begun a formal investigation into charges that the company faked millions of streams for artists such as Kanye West and Beyoncé.
Deals

Best tax software deals from TurboTax, H&R Block, and more

Do you dread doing your taxes? Luckily for you, there are plenty of tax software options available to guide you through the process. And guess what? Some of them are even on sale today! Check out deals from TurboTax, H&R Block, and…
Business

Cathay Pacific messes up first-class ticket prices — again

A couple of weeks ago, an error on Cathay Pacific's website resulted in first-class seats selling for a tenth of the price. On Sunday, January 13, the airline made the error again. The good news is that it'll honor the bookings.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Cars

Some of Volkswagen’s electric models will wear a ‘Made in the USA’ label

Confirming earlier rumors, Volkswagen has announced it will build electric cars in its Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory. The facility currently produces the Passat and the Atlas. Production will start in 2023, Digital Trends can reveal.
Home Theater

Not chill: Netflix is hiking prices across all its tiers

Netflix has to get the billions of dollars it's spending on new content from somewhere. The streaming giant announced price hikes across the board, raising its monthly rates between $1 and $2 per tier in the next few months.
Movies & TV

NBCUniversal will launch its own streaming service in 2020

NBCU is prepping a streaming service filled with its original content for a debut sometime next year, meaning that Michael, Dwight, and the rest of the Scranton crew might be moving to a new home.
Mobile

Benchmark results show Snapdragon 855 destroys previous-generation chip

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.
Mobile

Apple’s iPhone battery offer was reportedly way more popular than expected

As many as 11 million iPhone owners reportedly made use of Apple's cheaper battery replacement offer that launched in 2018 in response to the iPhone throttling debacle — some 10 times more than the company had apparently expected.
Home Theater

Cord-cutting has grown by 48 percent in 8 years, according to Nielsen

People are continuing to ditch cable but not all cord-cutters are the same. In fact, there are two distinct groups within the cord-cutting universe, with a very small, yet growing third group that's worth paying attention to.
Mobile

Huawei in for a rough year as feds investigate alleged trade secrets theft

Huawei is also facing issues in the U.S., but it doesn't seem like that will end any time soon. According to a new report, the company is facing a federal investigation in the U.S. for allegedly stealing trade secrets.