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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. Puka1701's Avatar
      Puka1701 -
      Quote Originally Posted by reanimationxp View Post
      Good god, you could not be more wrong. The number of bars is indicative of signal strength, which is ABSOLUTELY directly related to the achievable data rate. If it wasn't why the hell do you think they'd display it? Signal strength will be different for both 3G and Edge of course, but calls are made on Edge and only on Edge, all the time. Also, if you have Edge, you have "data". 3G is just faster data.
      Calls can, indeed, be handled by UMTS 3G in the GSM world. CDMA users are the ones restricted to 2G calling.
    1. zerocool5878's Avatar
      zerocool5878 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Puka1701 View Post
      Calls can, indeed, be handled by UMTS 3G in the GSM world. CDMA users are the ones restricted to 2G calling.
      +1 3G uses less compression resulting in higher quality audio. Although I can't really tell the difference lol
    1. PorthosPirate's Avatar
      PorthosPirate -
      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!
    1. Amillio's Avatar
      Amillio -
      Idk what the data speeds should be but if they throttle my data I'm going to be pissed
    1. iPittsburgh's Avatar
      iPittsburgh -
      Yay, I put this story on member news and now its here.
    1. mgmm1's Avatar
      mgmm1 -
      This throttling by AR&T sucks just as much as the U-verse product (which I cancelled after one week).

      Just because I am grandfathered in on my unlimited plan I get a nasty text that my speeds will be reduced because once in three years I reached the top 5%. It's not like I am getting free access on data. I am paying $30/mo for my plan and over $200/ for my family plan. If they reduce my speeds, AT&T should reduce the cost of my total plan.

      Maybe AT&T should increase their cell towers and quick picking on us hard-working people.
    1. anekin007's Avatar
      anekin007 -
      I hope this goes nationwide
    1. Truckerbear's Avatar
      Truckerbear -
      I hope this helps set a precedent. I left AT&T for this exact reason. If you sell an unlimited plan then you must keep it unlimited. If you bite off more than you can chew by taking on the iPhone you must suck it up.
    1. Roadw3's Avatar
      Roadw3 -
      AT&T throttled my data at 1.2 gigs. I called and apparently if I switch my data from unlimited to whatever they have now I won't get throttled. I'm not gonna dump my unlimited plan for that just thought 1.2 gigs was a little low.
    1. unixman84's Avatar
      unixman84 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jOnGarrett View Post
      I think AT&T and all other carriers have a right to cancel service of people who abuse their networks. its not fair to the rest of us (who pay $250 a month for 3 lines) whose service is affected by abusers.
      I don't think you are wrong at all, and this might just be me... This is a time and age where people expect a rather large amount of data. I know people like me and you can see it for what it is but a majority of the users on the network (and also the majority of those signed up for unlimited) have no clue that unlimited does not mean unlimited... this is what went wrong. simply put they should not have said unlimited. If you offered me a buffet and said you can have all you want then said well i changed my mind then i would be upset too. This is how these people see it. AT&T knew this and thats why they are wrong for it.
    1. hadzo's Avatar
      hadzo -
      That's it it has begun... Now att has to figure a new way of ripping us a new one... You know I bashed on few people when this started on how they should just use less data, I still don't condone the 50-60 GB data hogs but I've been marked at 5% with 1654MB and that's just BS!

      So my apologies to those I wronged and I'm all for all to take these idiots to court. Sometimes I wonder how they ate still in business ...

      Quote Originally Posted by unixman84 View Post
      I don't think you are wrong at all, and this might just be me... This is a time and age where people expect a rather large amount of data. I know people like me and you can see it for what it is but a majority of the users on the network (and also the majority of those signed up for unlimited) have no clue that unlimited does not mean unlimited... this is what went wrong. simply put they should not have said unlimited. If you offered me a buffet and said you can have all you want then said well i changed my mind then i would be upset too. This is how these people see it. AT&T knew this and thats why they are wrong for it.
      X2 and did any one bother to ask how they figure 5% well lemme tell you, I asked and this is what I got...

      We look at data bandwidth for our costumes with in a certain mile radius, not particularly tied to that area but currently in the on a certain tower and we single out 5% where than automatic message is sent.

      So I asked - wtf happens if I drive across the state why am I still throttled than, I'm not on same tower?

      Got that dumb founded sound on the other end with "sorry sir it's just how our system works". Lmfao!!

      I think one should ask for some data usage metric , I did and got shoved around departments with no avail. This is def. just a way to get rid of unlimited plans...
    1. Acill's Avatar
      Acill -
      Quote Originally Posted by Roadw3 View Post
      AT&T throttled my data at 1.2 gigs. I called and apparently if I switch my data from unlimited to whatever they have now I won't get throttled. I'm not gonna dump my unlimited plan for that just thought 1.2 gigs was a little low.
      Your just the type of user they are looking for and doing this for. You switch off and they win. Its like a gangster telling you he will make sure your not robed if you pay him a fee each month. Sad....They are going to win this and switching to Sprint isn't a option for me. I travel out of the US to often and use my phone all the time.
    1. maddawg05's Avatar
      maddawg05 -
      Got my first text that I was in top 5% and now I'm throttled. My 4S is not jb just happen to be using Pandora on my 2-hr drive to work cause cd player doesn't work. They couldn't tell me the magic data quantity that would put me in the top 5%. Moral to the story she said my quality of use of pandora would decrease cause my throttled speed. Now AT&T telling ppl the apps you got may be effected. What a load.
    1. Roadw3's Avatar
      Roadw3 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Acill View Post
      Your just the type of user they are looking for and doing this for. You switch off and they win. Its like a gangster telling you he will make sure your not robed if you pay him a fee each month. Sad....They are going to win this and switching to Sprint isn't a option for me. I travel out of the US to often and use my phone all the time.
      No I don't think I'm the "type" of user they are looking for. I did not switch my data plan I just wanted to know why it was throttled and how I could make it stop. I still have unlimited data, for whatever that is worth.
    1. ericmac017's Avatar
      ericmac017 -
      This wasn't mentioned once yet in this thread but I believe the US Government is partially to blame here when they blocked at&t from acquiring T-Mobile. From my understanding, that merger would've greatly increased at&t's data amount and speeds. Also, I'm fortunate to be living in the Bay Area where public wifi is available in numerous areas. But the fact that AT&T can amend your data speeds because you 'qualify' in the top 5% in your area/ cell tower range is bogus. I've been with AT&T for over 8 years even when it was Cingular lol
    1. bigliquid530's Avatar
      bigliquid530 -
      F@@@ at&t
    1. Lecram25's Avatar
      Lecram25 -
      Quote Originally Posted by trek-life View Post
      A faster network is promised and paid for. Period, good call by the judge
      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.
    1. 1hihum's Avatar
      1hihum -
      Quote Originally Posted by jOnGarrett View Post
      I think AT&T and all other carriers have a right to cancel service of people who abuse their networks. its not fair to the rest of us (who pay $250 a month for 3 lines) whose service is affected by abusers.
      What's not fair is selling me something under one condition, and then changing those conditions adversely on me when the company becomes a victim of it's own success! Don't offer an unlimited plan if you are not going to honor the terms you sold it to me under...period! I understand completely where you are coming from, but they are at fault, not the people using tons of data. They should have simply said in the contract that there will be a five gig a month cap. It really is that simple. But if you sell something as unlimited, then you should have to honor the frickin contract you created and sold to me in the first place.

      And this doesn't even get to the true issue here. They are not actually going after those who are the highest actual data users...they are after the highest data users on "unlimited" plans. As of yet, I have only read about one person, ONE, who is not on an unlimited plan who got this message. And for that matter, why in the hell do they sell a "capped" plan at 2, or 3 gigs, yet throttle you before you have even reached that limit to begin with? Isn't that a kin to selling you a roll of toilet paper for the month, and then telling you that you are wiping your *** too fast, so we are taking away the last third of your roll?!
    1. trek-life's Avatar
      trek-life -
      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].

      I'm not leaving my contract because of your opinion on what is stated. False advertisement is a real thing that can be sued over. A general contract"

      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'm not going to leave because of your opinion, so you can go ahead and leave that part out. We have a right to question what we'd like. I'm also not "lucky" that I'm getting what I paid for. Unlimited was in my contract, they honored that by continuing it, if it wasn't lucrative to do so, they wouldn't have.

      The hairsplitting in advertisement is why people chose their service, sell what you promise. How much, and why I use my phone is none of their concern, I paid for the service, that's all that the judge is looking at and should look at. Nowhere in the contract does throttling exist either, if it did, this would be a non issue.

      Don't change the game in the 9th inning, improve your service.
    1. Lecram25's Avatar
      Lecram25 -
      Quote Originally Posted by trek-life View Post
      I'm not going to leave because of your opinion, so you can go ahead and leave that part out. We have a right to question what we'd like. I'm also not "lucky" that I'm getting what I paid for. Unlimited was in my contract, they honored that by continuing it, if it wasn't lucrative to do so, they wouldn't have.
      By all means you have every right; go ahead and question all you like. And after others have in the past, they have been told to seek out a tiered plan.

      My opinion is my opinion for sure but I see no use in complaining about something that you agreed upon during contract signing.

      The hairsplitting in advertisement is why people chose their service, sell what you promise.
      Now as for AT&T's pseudo-deceitful and devious selling practices, it is up to you as an informed adult/individual to practice due diligence before signing the dotted line. It is no secret that AT&T is "evil" and that they treat their customers like horse manure. If you fell for it, then shame on AT&T and you. If you continue to fall for it, then shame on you.

      How much, and why I use my phone is none of their concern, I paid for the service, that's all that the judge is looking at and should look at.
      Agreed, it's none of their business (subjective really as AT&T enjoys unwarranted wire tapping) as you paid for the service and will continue to receive the service. Unlimited is still unlimited.

      Nowhere in the contract does throttling exist either, if it did, this would be a non issue.
      My point exactly! It's a two-sided coin. There is no stipulation in your contract that data may be throttled. Nor is there any stipulation in your contract that data will never be throttled. You must understand this.

      Don't change the game in the 9th inning, improve your service.
      The game hasn't changed. But I do agree that they should improve their service.

      The fact of the matter is: You signed up for unlimited internet and that is exactly what is being offered. You are not being charged extra past a certain point, nor are you being denied data. If either was the case, then you'd have something.

      Analogy time: You're given a car with unlimited fuel. You tend to vary your driving from 45 to 60 MPH. Then one day, the car provider decides to limit you to 15 MPH. You'll still get to your destination and you will still be able to refuel the tank as many times as you want. The contract is still honored.

      There are, however, others out there in the market. And if you are willing to wait less than a year, you can head over to a carrier that offers great speeds, customer service, and price. Not to mention that ANY AT&T HSPA and LTE device will work on their network at the device's purported speed.

      No AT&T iPhone gets this kind of speed (Verizon/Sprint LOL):