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Throttled iPhone user takes AT&T to court, wins $850

A customer who filed a complaint against AT&T after having his wireless data speeds throttled has come out the victor.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

A man who became dissatisfied with AT&T throttling data speeds on his iPhone has won a case against the carrier in small claims court.

The Associated Press reports that iPhone owner Matt Spaccarelli, who filed a complaint against AT&T after it began slowing down his data speeds, was awarded $850 earlier today.

Spaccarelli made the claim that AT&T purposely slowed down data speeds, despite the fact that he was subscribed to an "unlimited data" plan. This slowdown came after he had used 1.5GB to 2GB of data inside of one billing cycle, he told the court.

The payout represents 10 months of data on the carrier for the remaining portion of Spaccarelli's contract, the AP said.

In July AT&T announced plans to throttle, or cut back the speed on, data use by what it said were some of the heaviest users of its "unlimited data" plan. According to AT&T at the time, that consisted of only 5 percent of customers subscribed to the plan.

AT&T put that stipulation into effect in October, without clarifying where the threshold was for when throttling began, which is between 1.5GB to 2GB of data based on texts to affected users from the carrier.

AT&T has since moved to separate, tiered plans for smartphones, tablets, and other "Internet devices" that break down data into 300MB, 3GB, and 5GB packages. Those on the unlimited data plan, which the company now offers only on "standard" or "feature" phones, need to upgrade to the top-of-the-line plan if they intend to tether to another device.

The AP says Spaccarelli originally sought $10,000 from the claim, which is the amount listed in AT&T's arbitration agreement. Unfortunately for Spaccarelli, that does not include issues brought up in small claims court.

The victory could be short-lived for Spaccarelli, the AP said. AT&T spokesman Marty Richter told the outlet the company was "evaluating" the possibility of an appeal.