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  • Judge Rules Against AT&T in Data Throttling Case



    A California judge’s ruling in small claims case could help consumers affected by AT&T’s data throttling policies.

    The Associated Press reported today Judge Russel Nadel ruled in favor of Matt Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in a small claims case against AT&T. Spaccarelli argued that AT&T unfairly slowed data speeds on his iPhone 4’s unlimited data plan. Judge Nadel awarded Spaccarelli $850 in his decision against AT&T.

    Last October AT&T officially started throttling the data of the top 5% of data users and eventually made it clear that only those with unlimited data plans would be affected. AT&T used this move as a way to influence grand-fathered unlimited data users into changing to a tiered plan. AT&T has nearly 17 million customers still operating on unlimited data plans that can be throttled which is just under half of the company’s smartphone users according to the AP.

    AT&T Area Sales Manager Peter Hartlove argued in court that “his employer has the right to modify or cancel customers’ contracts if their data usage adversely affects the network.” AT&T could appeal the decision but, only released the following brief comment:

    “This is a small claims matter. We are evaluating next steps, including appeal. But at the end of the day, our contract governs our relationship with our customers.”

    Hopefully this is a small step in the right direction for consumers in the fight against throttling data use and bringing back unlimited data plans.

    Source: The AP [via 9to5Mac]
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Judge Rules Against AT&T in Data Throttling Case started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 83 Comments
    1. crusader281's Avatar
      crusader281 -
      Great news! I get the same message every month even though I never go over 2gb,this month I was throttled down at 1.5 gb.my iPhone 4 is so slow that it's almost unusable..hopefully this rally's others to do the same in small claims court.I have already filed a claim on FCC.gov and Have told others to do the same. Weather you believe it are not this will affect all of us down the line, not just those with unlimited data plans... Remember this has nothing to do with clogging up the networks it has to do with money and trying to get unlimited data users to give up there plans. a perfect example! my wife has the 2gb plan for 25 a month., but if she goes over she is charged more,not throlttled down data speeds. If this had anything to do with the network hogging then she would be throlttled down are at the very least a text letting her know she is in the top 5% in her area using the most data....those with unlimited data plans don't give up your unlimited data plans and file a claim.... "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
    1. Bluemoldycheeze88's Avatar
      Bluemoldycheeze88 -
      AT&T is a bunch of homos. In a month when I qualify for my dealer line at Verizon I will be leaving them.
    1. Lecram25's Avatar
      Lecram25 -
      Quote Originally Posted by crusader281 View Post
      Great news! I get the same message every month even though I never go over 2gb,this month I was throttled down at 1.5 gb.my iPhone 4 is so slow that it's almost unusable..hopefully this rally's others to do the same in small claims court.I have already filed a claim on FCC.gov and Have told others to do the same. Weather you believe it are not this will affect all of us down the line, not just those with unlimited data plans... Remember this has nothing to do with clogging up the networks it has to do with money and trying to get unlimited data users to give up there plans. a perfect example! my wife has the 2gb plan for 25 a month., but if she goes over she is charged more,not throlttled down data speeds. If this had anything to do with the network hogging then she would be throlttled down are at the very least a text letting her know she is in the top 5% in her area using the most data....those with unlimited data plans don't give up your unlimited data plans and file a claim.... "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
      Lol then just leave. That's not doing nothing per your quote. This isn't a right afforded to you by the constitution of the United States of America.

      me me me

      This a service that you pay for out of your own free will. A service that continues to be honored, albeit at a lesser speed. Speed was never included in your contract.

      As for your wife, she is in a tiered plan. She agreed that any consumption of data past her 2 GB allotment in a monthly period would be charged a certain rate per [k/M]byte.

      Put down the pitchforks.
    1. flash66's Avatar
      flash66 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jose060789 View Post
      +1
      Yep. Very wrong. Signal bars show not only strength but there is another factor that plays a role in how many bars you have. "Noise" created between you and the signal from the tower will also slow data speed. Most urban areas are microwave polluted which just creates interference in transfer rates. I've noticed much faster speeds in rural areas with 3G available with less competing towers in the area.
    1. Joedogg707's Avatar
      Joedogg707 -
      Unlimited means exactly that. If they told u they were going to make it so that they wouldn't send your text message for ten minutes because you text too much even though you pay for unlimited, you wouldn't stand for it. You can't offer a product then limit its use once you decide you offered too much. I buy a mercedes for a good price, then the seller thinks he sold for too little and one day gives me a Hyundai in its place? Not likely. This is no different.
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      More people have to take them to small claims court, if you tax AT&T resources enough maybe they will reconsider this policy.
    1. Lydia O Lydia's Avatar
      Lydia O Lydia -
      I don't use my iPhone enough to be considered anywhere near the Top 5%..... Thank goodness. But if AT&T tried to mess with my data usage, I would not be cool with that.
    1. csglinux's Avatar
      csglinux -
      Quote Originally Posted by Roadw3 View Post
      I still have unlimited data, for whatever that is worth.
      No you don't. You have a plan where AT&T can throttle your data speed after 1.2Gb, 1Gb, or any other amount they choose, turning your iPhone into a feature phone for the remaining 29 days of the month.
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      Normally I wouldn't care about this.....but the fact that AT&T sent me the "top 5%" data throttling warning message after I hit around 4.5GB one month......and then sent me the exact same message a couple months later at 2.3GB of usage tells me ONE THING......

      ......that they are not enforcing their contract but rather trying to force people into their tiered data plans.
    1. Nickaroni22's Avatar
      Nickaroni22 -
      Great win for the consumer against the big bully AT&T.
    1. Greatbiguns's Avatar
      Greatbiguns -
      Where do I sign up for the CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT?????
      Can I get a "AMEN"?
    1. smigs's Avatar
      smigs -
      This throttling is def an issue with me. After paying $137 a month, since the original Iphone a few months back I received the dreaded text. I quickly went into my att app, and realized that I had only used 1.2G. Really??? Did a speed test on my connection and yielded a hole .08mb/s. Now I understand the whole data surge, blah blah blah. But slowing down the connection to a crawl, ***** you said unlimited not "Barely Usable" my maps dont even load up. smh. Think this court matter should become a collaborative effort
    1. Roadw3's Avatar
      Roadw3 -
      Quote Originally Posted by csglinux View Post
      No you don't. You have a plan where AT&T can throttle your data speed after 1.2Gb, 1Gb, or any other amount they choose, turning your iPhone into a feature phone for the remaining 29 days of the month.
      Yes I agree and I think it is crap that AT&T can do that and I think it will get lower and lower until I'm getting throttled at 300 megs so lets face it there is nothing I can do about it except change carriers, which they all throttle, or stay with AT&T. AT&T is a huge corporation and even if everyone on this site left them it would not make the single smallest dent in the amount of cash they make. Heck we could get our friends and their friends to leave and it wouldn't do anything.
    1. bsltiger's Avatar
      bsltiger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lecram25 View Post
      Really? Where in the contract is this stated? Marketing != contractual agreement.

      What about all those original iPhone unlimited data plans? Will they too be throttled down to GPRS if they consume too much data over EDGE? I can easily consume over 2 GB of data over EDGE in a month streaming iheartradio and the like [on T-Mobile].

      Why don't you people read your contracts?

      The government is there to enforce contracts, not disband them. AT&T reserves the right to change their policies as they see fit, and you, the consumer, agreed to this when signing up. This is very cut and dry.

      Again, if you don't like it, then leave. That sends more of a message to AT&T. Even more than litigation. Once lawyers get involved, expect to see some serious contract/policy changes across the board. Then what will you take them to court for?

      It's not a speed issue, but a data allotment issue. While hairsplitting, they (AT&T) are still providing unlimited data. You should be lucky enough that they decided to grandfather you (in general) in; they are not required to by law.
      I like this guy.
    1. The6uest's Avatar
      The6uest -
      I wish someone would take them to court about them changing people to tethered plans. They need to stop that BS unless they can show proof that someone is tethering. I have a feeling they are doing it illegally.
    1. gloopy's Avatar
      gloopy -
      i like this topic

      AT&T can do what they want, and for those of you who keep referring to your contract lol

      did you know that in your contract RECEPTION is not guaranteed
    1. DickDomin's Avatar
      DickDomin -
      Let's remember AT&T gave us unlimited to entice us to join their system.

      So when any politician wants to decide they do not follow the rules your recommendation is roll over and belly up?

      Cops want to beat citizens, just lie down and belly up?

      Were you born in China or USSR in say the 50s?

      I had to call AT&T more than 600 times in the last 4 years because their towers went down. Zero signal. and I have 5 phones. I have paid nearly $5,000 a year and half the time I could not make a phone call. This is PHONE not data which is even worse.

      I know nearly 7 billion in profit each of the 1st three quarters in 2011. God brings tears to my eyes. AT&T execs going around naked, starving why they probably have to get phone service from Sprint.

      Go look at their profits for the last 5 years. They need to invest in infrastructure and they would have more customers. Many people HAVE left AT&T. But likely they are losing all the newer people they abuse.

      Yes smart phone use more data and iPhone users use more data than Android phone, mainly because android phones don't work as well. Yes I do know they have some great features and sizes iPhones do not have, but iPhones just flat out have more apps and they work better and therefore their users use more data.

      AT&T should have let Cingular take over the cell business because Cingular knew how to run a cellphone business, which AT&T has NEVER known how to do. AND again I have friends inside both companies and they universally agree Cingular had a better corporate climate and worked better and that has degraded.

      AT&T's solution is abuse loyal customers instead of doing their job of building a network that actually works.

      "If you don't like it, then leave AT&T!"

      Spoken like a true government official who will explain why They will be charging you more while giving you less, but giving themselves Pay Raises well beyond the rate of inflation.
    1. cmwade77's Avatar
      cmwade77 -
      Quote Originally Posted by PorthosPirate View Post
      About time. I think we should throttle AT&T's cash flow since they are such high consumers of dollars. Easiest way to throttle is for everyone on an unlimited plan to file in small claims court. They say there are 17M users still on it, that means if everyone sued for $800, AT&T would be out $13.6B plus all those attorney's fees.

      After all, they wrote a contract saying we could not initiate a class action (something which I question if they can even do), so they have told us that we must all file in small claims!
      Actually, attorney's are not allowed in small claims court, so it means they would have to send a representative from AT&T that is not a lawyer, which will cost more money in the time that they cannot work.

      The problem here is that many cannot leave AT&T, especially since there is no good option that has the iPhone (if T-mobile ever gets it, that will change though).

      For those that say you are still being given unlimited data, that is NOT true. You are now getting limited data, as unlimited means without limits or restrictions. This would mean that if you signed up for an "unlimited" data plan that tethering would not be against the rules and that they cannot slow down your speeds at any point. The only thing that they MIGHT be able to stop is if you are doing something illegal with the connection.
    1. M3mph1s's Avatar
      M3mph1s -
      I would LOVE to look into this further. If I could win even half that amount, it would cover the early drop fee, and a new iPhone from Sprint!