AT&T not to bring back unlimited data plan

AT&T will not bring back its unlimited data plan, but the telco has promised not to slow down internet speed until the customer reached the 22GB cap.

The decision follows the Federal Communications Commission threat to fine AT&T a staggering $100 million for misleading clients with about their unlimited data plans. To address this, the company upped the data limit from 5GB indicated in the old policy. Customers would also be receiving a notification when they consumed 75 per cent (16.5GB) of the cap, wrote Engadget.

"Speed reductions will occur only when the customer is using his or her device at times and in areas where there is network congestion and only for the remainder of the current billing cycle," AT&T announced on its website.

Under the neutrality rules of the FCC, throttling was prohibited but internet service providers were allowed to implement changes for "reasonable network management," reported The Verge. Currently, AT&T and other telcos have been testing the waters to minimise problems brought by heavy users.

Though the company would be able to dodge FCC-imposed fine, the lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would continue. The FTC has urged AT&T to refund millions of dollars worth of damages to customers affected with the slow down, CNET reported.

AT&T released a statement regarding the latest policy change which Fox News posted, which stated, "We recently revised our practices such that Unlimited Data Plan smartphone customers can now use 22GB of high-speed data during a billing period before becoming subject to network management practices that might result in reduced data speeds and increased latency."

AT&T has been offering unlimited data plans for many years but until now many of its subscribers were still in the dark about what unlimited data really meant. Over the past three years, AT&T had been throttling customer data speeds when they reached a certain data cap even when they were subscribed to an unlimited plan.

FCC had earlier ruled that under the new internet neutrality rules, throttling was allowed only when a certain area experienced network congestion and in other cases it was unlawful.

Wireless carrier AT&T said that rival T-Mobile and the Competitive Carrier Association (CCA) has been asking the FCC to block its acquisition of 700MHz spectrum without having a good reason to do so. (See: AT&T's rivals press US regulator to block its 700 MHz acquisition).