Following up on the saga of the California man that successfully sued AT&T Mobility in small-claims court for throttling his service despite being on a grandfathered unlimited data plan before such activity was implemented by the carrier, the judge presiding over the case agreed with the customer, Matthew Spaccarelli and ordered AT&T Mobility to pay him the maximum amount allowed under California small-claims statutes, which is currently $850.
As a result of the success of the case, AT&T suffered a massive PR black eye, as people around the country applauded Spaccarelli’s actions and were newly encouraged to pursue similar litigation against the carrier for the same reasons as the initial court case. As a result of the victory, Spaccarelli has also posted all of the information necessary to pursue an identical case against the carrier as a public service to those that feel similarly wronged. Now, as a result of all of the media attention that the case has received in the ensuing weeks since the original case, AT&T has chosen to offer Spaccarelli a ‘quiet’ settlement, though it came with thinly veiled threats from the carrier.
According to new documentation and emails sent by Spaccarelli to the Associated Press, AT&T’s “settlement” consists of forcing him off of the carrier with extreme prejudice, as he admitted in the small claims court case that he tethered his iPhone under the old unlimited data plan to other devices, which violates the letter of the original terms and conditions for unlimited data access, but is perfectly legal under the FCC guidelines as set forth by the Comcast/BitTorrent case, as we have stated time and again on PhoneNews.com. To add to the threat, AT&T also attempted to enforce a gag order regarding the settlement talks, in effect threatening him to stay quiet in order for him to avoid speaking to the media about the offer for the settlement to begin with, a move that while common in third-party arbitration and general court cases is liable to infringe on other rights.
Despite the threats to kick him off the network and to stay quiet, Spaccarelli has decided, bravely not to settle with the carrier and will continue his crusade against AT&T’s policies, which are perceived by many to be customer hostile. AT&T is actively refusing to comment on the case and the settlement offer and will only state that it is appealing the original decision.
The carrier began throttling grandfathered unlimited data accounts in 2010 and began forcibly moving those customers on unlimited data plans that were using jailbroken iPhones to tiered data plans last year before the ensuing outcry forced them to re-evaluate the practice. As a further result of the small claims case AT&T has also adjusted its 3G throttling limit to match its current tiered data plan rates at 3GB, but has given the old 5GB throttling limit to its LTE devices.