T-Mobile Settles with FCC Over Misleading Plans

Published: October 19, 2016 6:40 PM /



Today, the FCC announced that it had reached a settlement with T-Mobile concerning the company's misleading "unlimited" data plans. Many customers who had unlimited data plans complained to the FCC when they discovered that their speeds were sometimes throttled if they went over an undisclosed data limit during the month. This throttling occurred during times of high traffic or congestion on the network, so customers would sometimes get their full speed and at other times would have reduced speed. The customers believed, and the FCC agreed, that this throttling was not adequately advertised.

Under the settlement, the carrier must inform all affected customers about the details of the throttling. From now on, T-Mobile must also have updated advertising to adequately inform users of the policy that speeds will be throttled if they go over a certain data limit, or T-Mobile could simply end the throttling entirely and give all unlimited customers the advertised speed.

T-Mobile must pay a $7.5 million fine to the U.S. Treasury. The company must also set aside $35.5 million dollars for a consumer benefit program, which will give redeemable benefits to the effected customers. Eligible customers will be offered both 20% off the price of any accessory and an additional 4 GB of data if they have a compatible plan. Eligible customers must be sent a notification of benefits by December 15.

The settlement also requires T-Mobile to spend $5 million, plus any unredeemed funds from the consumer benefit program, to address the "homework gap" facing low-income school districts. T-Mobile will offer students free tablets and other devices, which can be used for school work. The company will also provide schools with broadband at a reduced price. The school program is expected to start in October 2017.

Is this settlement a fair punishment for T-Mobile? Should they receive a harsher or lighter punishment, or no punishment at all? Leave your comments below.

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I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.