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T-Mobile agrees to $48M settlement with FCC over 'unlimited data' claims

By Doug G. Ware
T-Mobile agrees to $48M settlement with FCC over 'unlimited data' claims
U.S. cellular carrier T-Mobile on Wednesday agreed to a $48 million settlement with the FCC following a review of the carrier's "unlimited" data plans that often slowed data speeds after customers passed a certain usage threshold every month, regulators said. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Cellular company T-Mobile has agreed to a $48 million settlement with the Federal Communications Committee following an inquiry over the carrier's offer of unlimited data plans for consumers, regulators said Wednesday.

The FCC had been looking into questions of whether the offer fully disclosed to customers that such "unlimited" plans included speed and data restrictions.

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"Consumers should not have to guess whether so-called 'unlimited' data plans contain key restrictions, like speed constraints, data caps, and other material limitations," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said in a statement. "When broadband providers are accurate, honest and upfront in their ads and disclosures, consumers aren't surprised and they get what they've paid for.

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"With today's settlement, T-Mobile has stepped up to the plate to ensure that its customers have the full information they need to decide whether 'unlimited' data plans are right for them."

The FCC found that T-Mobile's plan did provide unlimited data use. However, once customers reached a certain usage threshold every month, the carrier could substantially slow the speed. And regulators questioned whether advertisements sufficiently made that fact clear.

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"According to consumers, this policy rendered data services 'unusable' for many hours each day and substantially limited their access to data," the FCC said.

The $48 million settlement includes a $7.5 million fine to the FCC, $35 million in reparations to T-Mobile customers and "at least $5 million in services and equipment to American schools to bridge the homework gap facing today's students."

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