The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has imposed a fine worth millions of dollars on the network provider company, T-Mobile. The matter was looked into upon after the FCC received hundreds of complaints from customers about them being misled in the name of “unlimited” data plans. This is when FCC began investigating this matter and has been working on it for a year now. It announced on Wednesday that T-Mobile has agreed to pay a fine which adds up to $48 million.
The investigation carried out by the FCC since last year focused on T-Mobile’s highly marketed unlimited data plans. An unlimited data plan does not usually include any extra charges on high usage as they claim to provide unlimited data. But such claims by T-Mobile turned out to be false as they started limiting the data usage of certain customers. As charging the unlimited data plan subscribers is unlawful, they used alternative methods to cut down on the data usage.
T-Mobile's deception to its subscribers
FCC believes that the problem isn’t exorbitant, but T-Mobile didn’t abide by its claims. Notably, T-Mobile heavily advertised such unlimited data plans due to which the matter came into the public scrutiny even faster. In this case, the company’s claims, as well as advertisements were misleading. This is the same wireless carrier which is aiming to provide unlimited data to all its customers.
T-Mobile admitted in 2015 that it indulged in artificial limitation of certain consumers’ upload and download speeds. The company sabotaged the data of customers with the top 3 percent of data usage. These were the subscribers which used around 17GB of data every month. T-Mobile made this revelation only after several customers approached FCC regarding this matter. Misleading customers using an unlimited data plan is a violation of the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rules. In June 2015, AT&T was fined $100 million due to the same violation. This also includes providing insufficient information about the data plan to the users about the impositions of the limitations upon them.
T-Mobile would reduce the data speed of its top consumers drastically which would result in less usage of data. Also, the connectivity would fluctuate at highly congested network areas. Travis LeBlanc, FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief stated that the network providers have to be absolutely transparent with their customers about what service will they provide at the given price. It is vital to have a clear mention and advertisement of any kind of restrictions on the data usage.
Compensation for the same
T-Mobile has to provide 4GB of additional mobile internet data to its affected subscribers along with 20 percent discount on the in-stock phone accessories. The company will pay for these benefits through a $35.5 million consumer benefit program. An additional $7.5 million is for the US treasury. It will also provide funds worth at least $5 million for free tablets and other such facilities to the children of low-income district schools. The schools and families will receive free mobile data for four years. Approximately 80,000 children will be benefitted through this program by next year, claims FCC.