T-Mobile has reached a settlement with the FCC wherein the carrier will pay $48 million fine for misleading customers over its "unlimited" data plans. The FCC started investigating the carrier's unlimited plans after receiving several complaints from T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers that their data connections were being throttled. T-Mobile later clarified that it was "de-prioritizing" the top 3% of its data users during times of high congestion, throttling the connections to 1Mbps or lower.
According to the FCC, the way T-Mobile marketed its unlimited plans deceived customers, leading to a violation of the 2010 Open Internet transparency rules:
The FCC's investigation found that company policy allows it to slow down data speeds when T-Mobile or MetroPCS customers on so-called "unlimited" plans exceed a monthly data threshold. Company advertisements and other disclosures may have led unlimited data plan customers to expect that they were buying better and faster service than what they received.
The settlement sees T-Mobile paying a $7.5 million fine to the US Treasury, with an additional $35.5 million allocated for a "consumer benefits" program that gives T-Mobile customers a 20% discount on accessories as well as 4GB of additional data. Eligible customers will receive notifications in December. T-Mobile will also spend $5 million in providing services and equipment to U.S. schools in low-income districts, with the program set to benefit 80,000 students.