Throttle On? T-Mobile To Pay $48 Million for Misleading Customers

T-Mobile USA Inc., has agreed to pay at least $48 million for failing to tell customers that its unlimited data plans actually had some limits, the Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday.

The settlement resolves an FCC investigation that began last year into whether the company adequately disclosed that data speeds could be slowed or even halted for heavy users during periods of network congestion, the agency said.

T-Mobile agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine and provide $35.5 million in customer benefits, including a data upgrade and discounts on accessories. The company also will spend at least $5 million to improve mobile high-speed Internet access for up to 80,000 low-income public school students.

"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 Travis LeBlanc, head of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau

"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," he said.

T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere [pictured above] said on Twitter that it was "a good settlement" and that the company "believes more info is best for customers."

"Glad we could help schools with this solution as well," Legere also tweeted.

The settlement applies to T-Mobile's unlimited data plans and not its Binge On service, unveiled after the FCC investigation began, that exempts video and other services from data caps.

The FCC said its probe began in March 2015 after complaints from customers of T-Mobile and prepaid carrier MetroPCS, which the company had acquired about two years earlier.

Those customers "felt misled when they discovered their 'unlimited' data plan included 'de-prioritized' data speeds after using a fixed amount of data each month," the FCC said.

During times of network congestion, unlimited plan subscribers who had used more than 17 gigabytes of...

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