T-Mobile reaches $48M settlement with FCC over ‘unlimited’ data claims

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REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

The FCC this morning announced an agreement with T-Mobile that will see the carrier pay a fine and provide a basket of restitution benefits worth a total of $48 million for having failed to adequately disclose to its customers that its “unlimited” data plan came with caveats that could result in throttling.

“Consumers should not have to guess whether so-called ‘unlimited’ data plans contain key restrictions, like speed constraints, data caps, and other material limitations,” said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc in a press release. “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.”

In essence, the FCC determined that T-Mobile failed to adequately inform its customers that it may “de-prioritize” (read: throttle) the top 3 percent of its “unlimited” data consumers once they have used more than 17 GB in a given month.

As a result of that failure, T-Mobile will pay a $7.5 million fine, “fund a $35.5 million consumer benefit program for T-Mobile and MetroPCS ‘unlimited’ mobile data customers,” and donate $5 million to schools.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere attempted to put a positive spin on the agreement, taking to Twitter to call it “a good settlement.”

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T-Mobile isn’t the first carrier to incur the wrath of the FCC over dubious “unlimited” plans, as AT&T Mobility last year was fined $100 million for making similarly dodgy claims.

Motley Fool has a current and easily digestible compilation of what each of the four major wireless carriers is doing in terms of purported “unlimited” data and any attendant throttling or overages.

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