We've reached out to AT&T for its take on the lawsuit, and we'll let you know what it says. Big Blue has historically insisted that throttling is necessary to prevent data hogs from congesting the network. However, that argument might not hold water in this case -- the FTC is primarily concerned with the honesty of what AT&T is doing, and it's hard to argue that unlimited service really deserves its title when subscribers can quickly lose a lot of the functions they take for granted. Moreover, the FTC isn't alone in this fight. The FCC has also been taking providers to task, and it put enough pressure on Verizon that the company backed away from its throttling plans. It wouldn't be surprising if AT&T suddenly has second thoughts about its own slowdown strategy.
Update: Not surprisingly, AT&T isn't happy. It claims the FTC's lawsuit is "baseless," and maintains that it has been "transparent" about the entire affair between press releases and bill notices. Also, it notes that "only" 3 percent of customers are affected, and they get a text message when throttling is a concern. While it's definitely true that AT&T has discussed throttling out in the open, that doesn't address the FTC's concerns about telling customers exactly how unusable their service can get -- or the complaint that in-contract customers were promised one thing and got another. Also, 3 percent of 55.8 million subscribers (as of the third quarter) still adds up to roughly 1.7 million, so there are plenty of people directly affected by these policies.
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