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TracFone explains its throttling policy for Straight Talk users

The company says it will throttle speeds down to 2G after users consume 2.5GB of data, according to a FierceWireless report.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

TracFone has shed some light on its throttling policy amid a lawsuit charging it with false advertising.

A major mobile virtual-network operator owned by America Movil, TracFone offers contract-free phones under both pay-as-you-go and monthly plans. Its Straight Talk and Net10 phones and services are sold through Walmart.

Both TracFone and Walmart were recently hit by a lawsuit in federal court in California. The suit alleges that the two companies falsely promote their Straight Talk service as offering unlimited data when the speeds are actually throttled.

Now, TracFone has acknowledged that it does throttle data speeds down to 2GB when subscribers chew up 2.5GB of data for the month.

In a statement received by mobile news site FierceWireless, a TracFone spokeswoman said that the Straight Talk 30-day $45 "unlimited" plans and $60 "unlimited international long" plans include 2.5GB of high-speed data. "After reaching that usage, data will continue at 2G speeds for the remainder of the 30-day cycle," according to the spokeswoman. "High-speed data is restored once a new 30-day service plan is added," she said.

The Straight Talk home page and Terms and Conditions page both warn about the throttling. The plans are dubbed "unlimited," but an asterisk on the home page mentions the monthly 2.5GB limitation.

TracFone's statement puts to rest rumors that it actually imposed a 1.5GB limit on data use. But the company had never fully clarified its throttling policy, says FierceWireless.