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US Gov’t sue carriers who promise unlimited data

They say that you ought to fulfill everything that you promise, and that’s what the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) over in the United States is doing: suing telecoms who can’t keep up with their ‘Unlimited Data’ promises to their consumers.


Last October 28, the FTC filed a complaint against American telecom giant AT&T for misleading millions of its smartphone customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while reducing their data speeds by up to 90 percent in some cases. According to the complaint, AT&T’s marketing materials emphasized the “unlimited” amount of data that would be available to consumers who signed up for its unlimited plans. Even as unlimited plan consumers renewed their contracts, the company still failed to inform them of the throttling program. When customers canceled their contracts after being throttled, AT&T charged those customers early termination fees, which typically amount to hundreds of dollars.

Also according to the FTC’s complaint, consumers in AT&T focus groups strongly objected to the idea of a throttling program and felt “unlimited should mean unlimited.” AT&T documents also showed that the company received thousands of complaints about the slow data speeds under the throttling program.

Does the word ‘unlimited’ sound really familiar?



That’s what our local telcos have been advertising all along — Unlimited internet emphasized on promos, only to be met with data throttling or capping along the way. They enforce fair usage policies, they say, but don’t they mean unlimited as in unrestricted or not limited, as the word itself means?

As a paying customer of a telecom network that should’ve been providing a very stable internet connection and not a free internet user, whether prepaid or postpaid, we deserve every bit of speed that we think we paid for. We deserve every bit of consumer protection we think we need against these kinds of deceptive and misleading advertisements.

Maybe it’s time that the government should look at these. But then, are they really doing their jobs if advertisements like these slip though?

However, we’re closely seeing a shift in the way mobile data offers are being marketed by local telcos.

For several months now, local carriers have been avoiding the use of the word unlimited data in their promotional materials. Globe has slowly shifted their SuperSurf and Powersurf plans into GoSurf which indicates the amount of data allocation. Smart has also recently changed their labeling of their Unli Data Plans into just Data Plans which now implements a tiered data cap. They’ve also introduced All Day Surfing and All Month Surfing to define a restricted unlimited access to data (no video streaming, downloading and P2P).

So it looks like we’re seeing the trend going towards data caps instead of flat out unlimited data.

Get in touch with Carl at @lamielcarl on Twitter or visit his website for more updates!

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26 Responses

  1. RaM says:

    Walang silbi ang NTC. Dapat tanggalin lahat ng namumuno dyan.

    • RaM says:

      kasama na rin DTI.

    • Koroshiya says:

      Dapat i-abolish na lahat ng walang kwentang goverment agencies. Simula sa kurakot na Bureau of Customs hanggang sa napakagahaman na Bureau of Internal Revenue.

      Puro sarap buhay lang naman yung ginagawa ng mga incompetent na government officials na yan. Bulok na bulok talaga ang sistema.

      Dapat din sa arroganteng presidente na yan, pugutan ng ulo at ilagay sa tuktok ng flag pole.

    • kwatog says:

      Tama, useless ang NTC sa atin.Nganga mga tao lang dyan sa govt. agency na yan. Pareho ng pangulo ng pinas na laging nganga din

    • archie says:

      @Koroshiya Bobong comment. Bakit mo iaabolish yung institution? Ang director ng NTC at DTI ang dapat panagutin hindi yung institution dahil mayroong nakasulat na batas pero hindi lang nila pinapatupad. At sarap buhay talaga ang mga punyetang government employees na yan dahil sa laki ng binabayad ng Telco lobbyist sa kanila makalusot lang sila sa mga violations. Tignan nyo yung sa ZTE complain, ilang buwan lang burado na yan sa listahan nila ng bad records. NTC, DTI at Customs mga corrupt lahat ng mga namamahala diyan kaya di makausad ang technology sa bansa. Isama mo na ang DOE na laging pabor sa Meralco ang policies.

  2. Miss Call says:

    The solution is easy: local telecoms will not use the word unlimited in their advertisements anymore. Problem solved.

  3. 'em says:

    Oo, binago na ng telcos ang terminologies na ginagamit nila ngayon, eh paano noong panahon na misleading sila at nakabingwit sila ng maraming subscribers at natali na sa postpaid tapos biglang pinalitan yung unli policy sa kalagitnaan ng contract?

    • emenem says:

      mabait pa nga ang Smart e kasi hinintay nilang matapos ang kontrata ng subscribers nila bago iniba ang plan samantalang yung isang telco halos kakaumpisa mo pa lang sa unli data e biglang nag-implement ng data capping. dinagsa tuloy sila ng reklamo. ang NTC naman ay wala man lang ginawa.

  4. jayrwafu says:

    EDSA 5 na ba!? hahaha

  5. cindy says:

    Yan ang tama.
    Dito sa atin ay hindi magawa ng mga NTC commissioners dahil iba yata ang pagkakaintindi jola sa title nila na Commissioner

  6. Stefan M. says:

    Unlimited data is different from unlimited speed.*

    *Minimum speed is 256 Kbps. Minimum service reliability is 80%


    • bryan_mmx says:

      Did you listen to yourself when you said unlimited speed? can you explain?

      you don’t seem to get the point of author too. what author is pointing out is that there are telcos that uses underhanded tactics in serving the users that are still on Unlisurf/unlimited data plans by THROTTLING the MAX SPEED after their F*CKED UP POLICY and not just capping!

      Scenario: Juan is using Globibo’s Unlisurf999 postpaid for the whole 2013 without problem. Juan is on an iPhone5. Juan is very satisfied with the service since whenever he speedtest results are superb 30Mbps at home.
      When Globibo implemented the FUP, it is expected that the 3% heavy users has been weed out and that service Juan should experience should be even better because he is not part of the 3% heavy users. But as weeks pass by, Juan began to experience poor video and music streaming. Speedtest will show 15Mbps. Juan feels that it’s bearable so he didn’t complain. Then as more time passes by, the service will slow down such that opening 3 webpages seems like your back in the dial up era.
      Juan called up Globibo and complain about this and even escalated this problem to the senior network supervisor. After more than an hour trying to explain that it’s the network’s fault, supervisor finally agreed to look into it and gave the report number to Juan for follow up. Juan would follow up every week for almost 2 months. Until one day, Juan received a text from Globibo saying the issue has been resolved and closing down the report. Juan eagerly whipped out his now iPhone5S and make a speed test. It’s 21Mbps! Juan is happy and thought he can continue watching his series where he left off. But alas, all those plans to continue watching his series was shattered when he woke up the next day, and tried to stream some news videos. It’s back. Back to the miserable 0.8Mbps. So Juan called up Globibo and apparently network division says they didn’t do anything and that problem lies on the side of the client (specifically blaming the phone). Juan was furious and has to escalate it again to the supervisor and explain again from top, to the fact that it has nothing to do with his new iPhone5S supplied from Globibo. And so the waiting game began once again.

      The point of the based on real life story is that, the telcom is clearly using unethical practice. How can a phone on 4G LTE full bar signal get a speed of 20+Mbps one day and hit rock bottom speed the next day on the same spot still on 4G LTE full bar? Congested? That’s BS. How many people can afford to upgrade to an LTE handset less than a day? Clearly that was a “patikim”. Clearly, the telco is trolling with us.

    • Krypton says:

      Yes, unlimited data is different from unlimited speed. Teka, meron bang nag offer ng unlimited speed? Papatok yun speed mo to the infinity ang bilis… Hahaha! Isip isip din kapag may time bago mag comment. Peace.

    • Stefan M. says:


      I didn’t mean to offend the author,you or I’m on the side of telcos.

      I’m actually just mocking the telcos regarding their misleading ADS with the very small fine print.

      “Unlimited DATA is different from unlimited speed”. *Minimum speed is 256 Kbps. Minimum service reliability is 80%

      Our telcos advertise unlimited surfing/internet which shouldn’t. Yeah,Basically it is unlimited data BUT when you hit the CAP you are throttled/limited down to the minimum speed.

      It would be nice for them to have a big text on their ads where it explains to the user that although you have unlimited internet, your speed is limited/throttled down when you hit the cap.

      I do have a 3mbps DSL plan with Globe and I have a 7gig daily bandwidth capping. When I hit the cap, I throttle down to 1mbps.

      I know capping is even worse on mobile networks (2G/3G/4G) so I am just using my phone for notifications whenever I’m out of my WiFi range.


      I do apologize I did not state my comment clearly.

    • Stefan M. says:

      “How can a phone on 4G LTE full bar signal get a speed of 20+Mbps one day and hit rock bottom speed the next day on the same spot still on 4G LTE full bar? Congested?”

      I do think that having a full bar signal is different from network/bandwidth congestion. Signal indicates the quality of your connection (e.g. dropped packets, latency, etc.)

      An LTE cell site tower has a max speed of 42mbps. When a single user is connected to that cell site, he can fully utilize that 42 mbps, but others are connected to that cell site tower too. Thus, that 42mbps is shared among the users. When other users download like a full movie, other users might get deprived from that 42 speed.

      Again, I’m not saying that I’m on the side of Telcos. (^_^)

    • jm says:

      teka unlimited speed? di ibig sbihin pwede kang bigyan ng telco ng 1kbps pero unlimited speed? ganun ba ibig mong sabihin? ahahahah oh kaya 2kbps para mas mabilis pero unlimited speed?

    • jm says:

      baka ung 3mbps mo na 7gig limit ay 700mb limit per day, oh 7gb limit per month. di na makatotohanan ung 7gb limit per day. pero kung 7gb man limit mo per day, parang di mo kayang ubusin un sa isang araw, maliban nalang kung mg dodownload ka ng 2 mmorpg game per day ^_^

    • Stefan M. says:


      Yung ibig kung sabihin eh unlimited yung data (may internet ka) pero ang bagal(limited speed). hehe.

      Yung problema kasi sa Advertisement natin eh “Unlimited Internet”. So technically, may data/internet ka nga pero yung minimum speed mo is nakalagay usually sa ilalim na napakaliit na font (e.g. *Minimum speed is 256 Kbps. Minimum service reliability is 80%).

      Yes po. 7gig a day po yung limit. Wired DSL po kasi sakin. Eto po FUP nila: http://tattoo.globe.com.ph/fup

      For DSL 3 Mbps: 7 GB per account per day. and nagrereset sya daily.

      Iba naman po case sa Mobile networks, yung cap po ata is 3GB a month which is hindi reasonable (at least for me)

  7. Koroshiya says:

    Kahit anong gawin natin na pagpaparinig sa gobyerno, wala paring mangyayari. Sabi nga sa kanta ni Gloc-9, “Walang doktor na makapagpapalinaw ng mata niyo

    Dapat yang mga manhid na pulitiko at gahaman na opisyal ng gobyerno ang namamatay, hindi yung mga inosenteng tao dyan.

  8. Hen-Sheen says:

    ISP’s have the ability to block web sites! But NTC & PLDT are doing a lousy job in Quality Control, we need a Task force to investigate this heap of mess that existed since the early days of Internet! These entities should take lessons from the U.K. about freakin’ Quality Control!

  9. i called globe earlier to complain about the data throttling and I had an agent tell me that the “FUP” (Fuck Ur Customer Policy) took effect Jan. 2014 and that all customers on data plans would be affected. funny thing is, i’ve called globe a handful of times to verify if i’ll get affected considering i got my Unlisurf Plan 999 in 2013 and every time a representative told me that i didn’t need to worry. “no need to worry sir” my ass!

    now i’m stuck with a brick and there’s nothing i can do other than to get a dsl connection (which is infinitely worse here in our area). can’t we go after these people/telcos? di ba tayo pwede mkfile ng class action/suit laban sa kanila? i mean, i think we have all the evidence we need in the form of their ads and even the contract we signed (lost mine due to Sendong). they baited us with unlimited service and then screw us over with their F*cked Up Policy once we subscribed. dba unfair/unethical business practices yun? kelangan ba talaga na dumaan pa muna sa gobyerno ang mga ganitong complaints? man, the philippines is f*cked up and people are just smiling it off and proud that their *ssholes are getting a beating hai.

  10. joe says:

    walang kwenta ntc… not like TIO in australia na kinatatakutan ng mga telcos. if someone sent a complint talagang maadress talaga yung issue. regardless the issue concerned telco will pay certain amount once tjey got the complaint. Eh dito mamatay ka nat lahat lahat complaint mo waley paring nangyayari. Hindi magada cust service dito less priority ang mga customers. Pagnagcomplaint ka or ask for manger or upervisor naku mamumuti buhok mo wala parin yan sup na yan not like u. S or australia pag nakarinig ng complaint or sup or manager, bigay agad

  11. mavtan says:

    NTC now means National Telcos Collector

  12. Lester says:

    We signed for a 2-year contract na unlimited internet. during that time, wala pang FUP. dapat granted yung contract hanggang 2 years na unlimited. Ang ginawa ng globobo, effective sa laaht agad yung FUP.

    Pag tayo nag violate/nag cut sa contract, may bayad tayo. pag sila ang nagbago for their advantage, OK lang sa kanila. Di ba unfair yun?

    Tapos, lalabas sa balita

    “Globe Telecom reports 385% rise in H1 profit ”

    BS talaga.

  13. William says:

    As of 4 Nov 2014 Globe has chose to put all users under Private IP addresses. People might think wow, I get a private address. But don’t think that… basically a private address is a limiting of your internet connection.

    So how does this effect the users? Well if you play multiplayer games or use applications that have packet data flow then you basically are not able to use those games and or applications any more. Yep… they put the user behind a 10.xxx.xxx.xxx IP address where users are likely sharing that public address with others.

    And did they warn any of their subscribers of such plans? Of course not.

    To point on the subject a tech team ticket has been in to Globe for 2 weeks now on my own issue of why they have chosen to not allow any public IP addresses to users.

    And for 2 weeks they keep saying someone from the Tech Team will call me in 24hrs. (we know that never happened) Finally today all fed up with not being able to connect online to any multiplayer gaming I contacted their support team yet again and finally am able to get a supervisor online who ends up reading through all the transcripts and tells me of this change of service to users and that I can spend 700Pesos to upgrade to a dedicated IP address. Yep… add another 700pesos on and you will actually be able to use the internet. Don’t pay and you get the restricted internet service.

    Is this even legal? I mean really… I have a policy in place for unlimited internet service but they restrict the kind of internet I can connect to? And are trying to strong arm an extra 700pesos out of me just to meet the minimum needs???

  14. Anonimouse says:

    Kaya nga NGANGA MGA TAO:-) dont worry some people doing good things to benifits other people:->

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