A California judge’s ruling in small claims case could help consumers affected by AT&T’s data throttling policies.

The Associated Press reported today Judge Russel Nadel ruled in favor of Matt Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in a small claims case against AT&T. Spaccarelli argued that AT&T unfairly slowed data speeds on his iPhone 4’s unlimited data plan. Judge Nadel awarded Spaccarelli $850 in his decision against AT&T.

Last October AT&T officially started throttling the data of the top 5% of data users and eventually made it clear that only those with unlimited data plans would be affected. AT&T used this move as a way to influence grand-fathered unlimited data users into changing to a tiered plan. AT&T has nearly 17 million customers still operating on unlimited data plans that can be throttled which is just under half of the company’s smartphone users according to the AP.

AT&T Area Sales Manager Peter Hartlove argued in court that “his employer has the right to modify or cancel customers’ contracts if their data usage adversely affects the network.” AT&T could appeal the decision but, only released the following brief comment:

“This is a small claims matter. We are evaluating next steps, including appeal. But at the end of the day, our contract governs our relationship with our customers.”

Hopefully this is a small step in the right direction for consumers in the fight against throttling data use and bringing back unlimited data plans.

 

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