AT&T has agreed to pay $12 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over allegations that it slowed the broadband connections of subscribers who purchased unlimited data.
If granted final approval by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco, the settlement will result payments of $10-$14 to AT&T's California subscribers who were throttled.
AT&T previously agreed to a $60 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which also resulted in refunds to customers.
Details of the settlement were revealed in court papers filed late last week.
Assuming Chen accepts the deal, it will resolve a lawsuit dating to 2015, when California resident Marcus Roberts and others accused AT&T of selling them “unlimited” data, but throttling them after they hit a monthly cap ranging from 3 GB to 5 GB.
From 2011 until 2015, AT&T allegedly throttled more than 3.5 million customers with "unlimited" data plans. (The company subsequently revised its throttling practices, and now only slows down "unlimited" subscribers who exceed either 50 GB or 22 GB in a month, and only when the network is congested.)
An AT&T spokesperson said last year that the company disputed the lawsuit's claims, but “elected to settle rather than continuing to engage in drawn out litigation.”
The spokesperson added that the company was “fully transparent” with customers, “providing notice in multiple ways and going well beyond the FCC’s disclosure requirements.”
Chen initially ruled that the consumers' lawsuit belonged in arbitration, given that AT&T's subscriber agreements require arbitration of all disputes.
But the judge reconsidered in 2018, after the California Supreme Court ruled against enforcing an arbitration agreement in a separate matter.
The Obama-era Federal Communications Commission also initiated proceedings against AT&T, proposing a $100-million fine for its alleged failure to transparency disclose broadband practices.
The current Republican-controlled FCC dropped the prosecution three years ago.