T-Mobile will pay a $48 million fine for throttling ‘unlimited data’ plans

The FCC caught T-Mobile slowing down connections for heavy data customers — and now, it’s making the company pay for it. In a settlement announced today, T-Mobile agreed to pay $48 million to resolve an investigation into the company’s unlimited data plan.

T-Mobile revealed in 2015 that it was slowing down data for customers in the top three percent of data usage, typically translating to 17GB of data per month. The limitation was only revealed after numerous complaints, and came as a surprise to many users The same restriction was placed on MetroPCS customers, who operate on T-Mobile’s network.

According to the FCC, the problem isn’t the throttling, but the way T-Mobile marketed the plan. Marketing the system as an unlimited data plan was deceptive to customers, and a violation of the 2010 Open Internet transparency rules. "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 statement.

Affected T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers will be eligible for 4 GB of additional mobile internet data under the "Simple Choice MINT" plan, as well as a 20 percent discount on in-stock phone accessories. T-Mobile will pay for those benefits through a $35.5 million consumer benefit program, with an additional $7.5 million paid directly to the US Treasury and $5 million in services and equipment provided to American schools.

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