After having to pay a $100 million fine to the FCC, AT&T (NYSE: T) has changed its tune on how it handles unlimited data plan customers.
The new policy gives AT&T customers on unlimited data plans a 22 GB soft cap, up from the previous 5 GB limit. The cap doesn’t cut data off completely, but instead dramatically reduces speed so the internet is practically unusable.
AT&T explained that the premise behind their unlimited data plan is not for users to actually use unlimited data, but rather to know that they will not be charged exorbitant overages should they break their limit.
“Unlimited Data Plan smartphone customers will still have the comfort of knowing that, no matter how much data they use in a billing cycle, they will continue to pay a single monthly flat rate. That is the essential promise of the Unlimited Data Plan, and we are pleased to continue honoring that promise,” AT&T said in a statement.
The new policy goes further than just raising the limit though: AT&T is only going to throttle when the 22 GB cap has been reached, and the user in question is connected to an already overloaded tower.
“Further, speed reductions will occur only when the customer is using his or her device at times and in areas where there is network congestion.”
Last summer, AT&T fought the US Federal Communications Commission over its deceptive caps on so-called unlimited data plans. The FCC finally decided that AT&T’s actions were illegal because it did not properly inform customers of the policy, and imposed a $100 million fine on AT&T.
AT&T, naturally, challenged its fines. It argued that the caps are necessary to prevent a few high usage users from ruining the network for everyone.