In July of 2011, AT&T announced plans to begin throttling the data speeds of the top 5% of smartphone users who could often consume as much as 12 times as much data as an average consumer. The throttling went into effect in early October and based on one individual who received a throttling warning, the top 5% of data users on AT&T probably consume about 10-12 GB of data per month.
Matt Spaccerelli, who the AP notes is a 39-year old unemployed truck driver and a student, was one such iPhone user who fell under AT&T’s top 5% umbrella. Consequently, Spaccerelli’s browsing speeds were throttled and he decided to take AT&T to small claims court about it.
And, believe it or not, a Judge ruled in his favor and awarded him $850.
Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel found in favor of Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Valley on Friday, saying it wasn’t fair for the company to purposely slow down his iPhone, when it had sold him an “unlimited data” plan…
Spaccarelli said his phone is being throttled after he’s used 1.5 gigabytes to 2 gigabytes of data within a new billing cycle. Meanwhile, AT&T provides 3 gigabytes of data to subscribers on a tiered plan that costs the same — $30 per month.
As for the $850 award, Judge Nadel reasoned that Spaccerelli would likely pay an extra $85/month to account for his bandwidth usage, and seeing as how he has 10 months left on his contract, well, you can do the math from there.
Spaccarelli didn’t quite uphold his side of the customer contract, and that’s one reason his data usage was high. He used the iPhone to provide a link to the Internet for his iPad tablet, a setup known as “tethering.” AT&T doesn’t allow tethering unless customers pay extra for it, which Spaccarelli didn’t do. It detected his tethering last year, and switched him from the “unlimited” plan to a limited one. He complained, and got his “unlimited” plan reinstated.
Even with the tethering, Spaccarelli’s data usage wasn’t excessive, he said — about 5 gigabytes per month. AT&T’s Hartlove told Nadel about the tethering, and Spaccarelli admitted to it.