Discuss: AT&T and the FCC

Hewlett-packard / Hp pavilion g6 notebook p...
October 31, 2014 at 06:01:34
Specs: Windows 7, 1.4 GHz / 5610 MB
Hi all,

This week's poll question is about news that the FCC has filed a complaint against AT&T about its data throttling practices. Discuss here if you think cell phone carriers are misleading when it comes to their data packages, and, if you like, the poll results themselves.

Thanks,
Justin


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#1
October 31, 2014 at 06:35:31
Do you have a link please Justin?

Edit: is that the FTC vs AT&T?

message edited by btk1w1


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#2
October 31, 2014 at 06:59:14
My thoughts are Telcos are deliberately misleading in the way they advertise their products.

In Australia an ISP (I won't name names although it's no secret) came under fire for it's misleading use of the word "unlimited" and copped heavy penalties for it. It wasn't for mobile devices though rather home internet packages. We should be so spoilt.

Here though there is the practice of offering a data cap (let's say 2GB which is middle of the field) with a new phone subscription or plan. Most users will think it's not a bad offer and don't realise the telco has implemented what's referred to as a "minimum session limit". This session limit basically means that any time (after a short period of inactivity) the Internet is accessed with a mobile device it comes with a minimum session limit. Usually 1MB. So if a customer opens up a session to access an email, which might amount to a few kilobytes they will be charged a minimum session limit of 1MB. As you can imagine this quickly adds up. Here's the kicker though, in the fine print the telcos have an excess data clause. This means that an unsuspecting customer that goes over their limit is charged on a per MB basis an amount of money. This is called excess data charges. I've seen bills that are ten times the cost of the monthly charge people have signed up to in their contract. On the news people have approached current affairs shows where they have been billed in the thousands from telcos because of excess data charges. Nearly always with smart phone technology they tell their customers their phones are to blame because they access the Internet without their knowledge.

Personally I think telcos should have a guilty before they prove themselves innocent approach taken towards them.

message edited by btk1w1


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#3
November 2, 2014 at 13:06:41
The FTC is not only clueless in this case, they are completely wrong. Here is tweet from lead FTC council:
Edith Ramirez @EdithRamirezFTC · Oct 28 "@ATT promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, & failed to deliver on that promise. The issue is simple: unlimited means unlimited".

First: The way I see it, "Unlimited Data plan" does NOT by any means imply "unlimited speed". In fact, every data plan wireless/wired/DSL... etc, has a set speed limit that is -by its very nature- controlled by the service provider. So you might want to try to download 1000GB per month if you so choose. AT&T offers no guarantee that you will be able to because if speed restrictions.

Second: It gets even simpler than that. If download/upload speed is something that we can take for granted, then those of us who experience power outages while on a coast to coast vacation, can sue their wireless provider several times over fort each incident where their signal dropped or they were disconnected.

Third: An example on how silly the FTC premise is in this case: "I am in a steel enforced concrete structure 50 feet under ground and although I have an "unlimited data plan" with AT&T, it takes minutes for a Google search page to load on my phone. Darn AT&T for breaking their promise"

Forth: If you think AT&T is the only service provider who throttles their data plan after a certain amount, then you know nothing about wireless service providers. Examples from the web:
"So, um, why exactly do carriers throttle the top 5% of data users again?"
http://www.phonearena.com/news/So-u...

"Verizon Fios Data Throttling and Your Slow Internet Speeds": http://www.fairfaxunderground.com/f...

"Verizon’s Defense For LTE Throttling: We’re Not Going After Unlimited Users; They’re Just Data Hogs": http://consumerist.com/2014/08/05/v...

FYI... I do not represent AT&T. I am actually a customer with both, a limited (5GB) laptop connect data plan, and an unlimited mobile data plan. And can provide proof (Oookla speedtest.com screen grabs) showing that both plans get throttled at approximately 3.5 to 4 GBs (close to the end of my billing period).


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#4
November 2, 2014 at 13:29:15
@btk1w1

Even with your analogy (at 2 GB per month with a 1 MB minimum per session), a user has 2048 sessions per month (or 68+ web sessions per day) before they run out of data allowance. How many times web sessions do you start per month?

But this is not the issue here. Not even remotely! The FTC suit does not address limited plans (which your analogy is based upon). Nor are they asserting any minimum restrictions. They are on the other end of the spectrum claiming an unlimited amount of data implies an unlimited high speed each time, every time, with every device, at every location. An impossible standard to uphold!

The second analogy you present (quote): "Here's the kicker though, in the fine print the telcos have an excess data clause. This means that an unsuspecting customer that goes over their limit is charged on a per MB basis an amount of money. This is called excess data charges"... (end quote): that isn't related to the FTC case versus AT&T. You are describing a LIMITED data plan, with a limit that you yourself chose when you signed up. So your describing a customer as "unsuspecting" is not a valid description. And the service provider can limit the speed as well as the amount of data you get on such a plan. They can even shut you down until your next billing period starts, if they choose to.


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#5
November 2, 2014 at 19:08:58
OsMh, it wasn't my intention to create analogies, but fair enough if that's the way you read it.

My little rant was just to show how deliberately convoluted telco data plans can be. In recent months they have become clearer here though and more transparency has been forcibly encouraged and given.

Your strong defence of their infallibility is admirable though.

This is extreme but it does exist:
http://www.cnet.com/news/201000-pho...

Like I said I have seen bills in the hundreds. Heard of many in the thousands. All because of unscrupulous telco data pricing structures.


And of all of your scenarios about why expecting unlimited data isn't feasable I can only say one thing. Red Bull still doesn't give you wings.

The Telco put THAT word there. Not the consumer.

message edited by btk1w1


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