AT&T’s ‘unlimited’ data throttling lawsuit to go ahead, paving the way for net neutrality repeal

Uh oh, it seems that the Federal Trade Commission does have jurisdiction over carriers like AT&T, it seems, as the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the FTC’s regulatory authority over large ISPs today, despite AT&T arguing in court that it is just a “common carrier,” to avoid another oversight. What does all of it mean in practice? 

Well, the FTC vs AT&T case was over “throttling” (now called “data de-prioritization”) on advertised “unlimited” plans way back in 2014. It’s not only AT&T that does that, of course, but all other carriers as well, to the mighty annoyance of all their subscribers. Currently, the data deprioritization caps range from 22GB-50GB, depending on the carrier, but it does have an impact mainly if you are downtown in a congested rush hour, and you are going over your limits on a regular basis. 
The carriers claim that this affects a very small percentage of the users, but the point of the lawsuit is that while AT&T was advertising its new plan as “unlimited,” it did have full-on throttling cap of 5GB at the moment nonetheless, and that’s why the FTC wanted a piece of it. 

With the Federal Trade Commission now authorized to pursue the case, the FCC, whose net neutrality repeal was partially based on the legal ability of the FTC to police internet providers in such scenarios, is now on a much more stable ground, ahead of the April 23 repeal enforcement. As for AT&T, it may eventually have to refund customers who were throttled on its ancient “unlimited” plan, but that’s probably way into the future, as these court battles go.

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