The long-standing policy of AT&T to throttle, or decrease, the quality of service for unlimited data customers on its LTE network has finally been changed so that users will only be throttled when they are using connections to a congested network.

Before the change, customers of AT&T who used up 5GB worth of data over the course of a monthly billing period were throttled for the remainder of the period, with almost unusable service despite having to pay for supposedly unlimited data.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against AT&T regarding the practice. While AT&T has denied doing anything wrong, the company said that it will soon be changing the policy before the end of the year.

That time to change the policy is apparently now, as spotted by technology news website Ars Technica on the website of AT&T. The company has not, however, released any formal announcement.

On AT&T's support page for unlimited data and data speeds, the company added a new line that said users who are over their data allocation will only be throttled when they are "in areas that are experiencing network congestion." The change in the company's policy seemingly happened overnight.

In the previous setup, users on AT&T's LTE network would see their Internet connection speeds decrease to under 0.5MB per second when they are being throttled. Such a strict and drastic throttling policy forced customers to upgrade to more expensive plans that were released after the time that AT&T ceased selling unlimited data plans to customers.

Despite saying that it is throttling unlimited data users to be able to manage the network, AT&T is allowing users on limited plans to use up over 5GB per month without experiencing throttling if they pay for the bigger allotment.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has made efforts in stopping carriers from throttling customers according to their monthly plans, with Wheeler succeeding in stopping Verizon's throttling practices against LTE network users. Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint still implement throttling at a certain extent, but only in congested networks, and in the case of Verizon, only for 3G networks.

Even after making the adjustment, AT&T could still face punishment for its earlier throttling practices. The FTC, in its lawsuit, is looking to have the company refund millions of customers who were promised to have plans with unlimited data.

AT&T would have faced actions from the FCC, as the agency will be implementing next month the new net neutrality rules that address throttling.

Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr

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