AT&T, FTC reach settlement over data throttling lawsuit

AT&T has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over a 2014 lawsuit related to the carrier’s data throttling practices and disclosures.

A Friday court filing shows AT&T has approved final terms of the deal, and the parties are requesting a 90-day stay through November 21 so FTC Commissioners can vote on the settlement.

An agreement was reached on Aug. 2, but further details, including the amount of the settlement, have not been disclosed.

The FTC in 2014 accused the wireless carrier of misleading as many as 3.5 million customers with legacy unlimited data plans by failing to adequately disclose its data throttling policy and altering the terms of their plans.

RELATED: AT&T abandons case against throttling, will seek resolution with FTC

The agency said AT&T had been throttling speeds since 2011, and in some cases customers’ data speeds were reduced by nearly 90%. AT&T previously said it has been “completely transparent" with customers since starting its unlimited data throttling practices in 2011.  

AT&T’s website currently discloses that for unlimited plans “AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds when the network is busy.”

AT&T had also argued the FTC lacked authority under the then-imposed net neutrality regulations enforced by the FCC, which in 2015 reclassified internet service providers as common carrier telecommunications service providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

In August 2016 a three-judge panel sided with AT&T and threw out the FTC action against the carrier, but the agency appealed that decision.  

Net neutrality rules were overturned by the FCC in 2017, with oversight lobbed back to the FTC, and AT&T last year announced it would not take the case to the Supreme Court but instead work to negotiate with the FTC to resolve the issue.