T-Mobile will pay out $48 million following FCC investigation over deprioritization policy

Unlimited data plans are still a crucial element for T-Mobile, but the Un-carrier got into choppy waters with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its rules regarding deprioritization.

As a result of an investigation, T-Mobile has settled with the FCC and will pay $48 million. The investigation centered on customers that had complained to the FCC that they were unhappy with the deprioritization policy put forth from the Un-carrier, saying that they did not believe they were being given access to the unlimited data plan that was being advertised.

The investigation determined that prior to June 2015, the Un-carrier was not explaining its deprioritization policy for the heaviest unlimited data customers (the top 3% of data users), and did not explicitly outline the threshold that customers had to pass before their devices were deprioritized on the network. On top of that, the FCC found that T-Mobile did not outline in clear language the speed reduction that those devices would be hit with.

Here are the changes T-Mobile has agreed to implement moving forward:

  • Update disclosures for its deprioritization, including on T-Mobile and MetroPCS websites
  • Clearly explain deprioritization in all marketing materials for unlimited data plans or stop using the word “unlimited” to describe plans that are subject to deprioritization
  • Will not misrepresent performance of unlimited data plan
  • Provide direct and individual notification to a customer when they’re nearing the deprioritization threshold
  • Spend at least $35.5 million on benefits to T-Mobile and MetroPCS unlimited data plan customers, including offering 20 percent discount (up to $20) on an accessory and 4GB of additional data for mobile internet customers
  • Spend at least $5 million on a program that’ll provide students of low-income schools with free devices and service
  • Pay a $7.5 million civil penalty

Under T-Mobile’s current deprioritization policy, a customer needs to use more than 26GB of data in a month to be deprioritized. This means that customer’s devices will be prioritized below other devices connecting to the network in “locations where there are competing customer demands for network resources.”

Have you ever had to deal with T-Mobile’s deprioritization?

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