The FCC on Wednesday announced that it has reached an agreement with T-Mobile over the carrier’s failure to disclose restrictions on its “unlimited” data plans.
According to a release from the FCC, T-Mobile has agreed to pay a fine and provide benefits to consumers totaling at least $48 million.
The FCC said its investigation found that company policy allows T-Mobile to slow down data speeds when T-Mobile or MetroPCS customers on so-called “unlimited” plans exceed a monthly data threshold. However, the Commission said that company advertisements and other disclosures may have led unlimited data plan customers to expect that they were buying better and faster service than what they received.
The Commission’s 2010 Open Internet transparency rules require broadband Internet providers to give accurate and sufficient information to consumers about their Internet services so consumers can make informed choices.
FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said that consumers should not have to guess whether so-called ‘unlimited’ data plans contain key restrictions, like speed constraints, data caps, and other material limitations.
“When broadband providers are accurate, honest and upfront in their ads and disclosures, consumers aren’t surprised and they get what they’ve paid for,” LeBlanc said in a statement. “With today’s settlement, T-Mobile has stepped up to the plate to ensure that its customers have the full information they need to decide whether ‘unlimited’ data plans are right for them.”
The settlement includes $48 million in total financial commitments from T-Mobile, including a $7.5 million fine in addition to $35.5 million in consumer benefits offered to T-Mobile and Metro PCS customers with “unlimited” plans and at least $5 million in services and equipment to American schools to bridge the homework gap facing today’s students.
Eligible T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers will be offered both:
• Discounts of 20 percent off (up to $20) of the regular price for any in-stock accessory.
• 4 GB of additional data if they have a mobile Internet data line – specifically T-Mobile’s “Simple Choice MINT” plan – or a tablet plan under the MetroPCS brand.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted Wednesday morning that he thought the settlement was a good one. “Good settlement with FCC today. T-Mobile believes more info is best for customers,” Legere tweeted. “Glad we could help schools with this solution as well.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations