FCC launches its own probe into AT&T’s throttling practices

The Federal Communications Commission is investigating whether AT&T misled its customers over its throttling policies, which restrict network speeds on unlimited data customers after they’ve hit a certain threshold each month. The Federal Trade Commission also filed a lawsuit against AT&T over the practice in October, but of the two agencies, it seems Ma Bell would prefer that the FCC do the investigating.

[company]AT&T[/company] disclosed the FCC probe in a motion to the dismiss the FTC’s lawsuit (first spotted by Ars Technica). AT&T argued that it’s not subject to the FTC’s jurisdiction because of its “common carrier” status as a regulated phone service provider. That jurisdiction lies with the FCC, which has launched its own investigation, AT&T claimed.

“The FTC seeks to litigate the very same issues in an inappropriate parallel proceeding,” AT&T said in the motion to dismiss file this week.

But how safe AT&T would be under the FCC’s eye remains to be seen. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has come down hard on the carriers over their throttling practices. And AT&T may be taking a risk by arguing its common carrier status. Currently, mobile broadband isn’t considered a common carrier service the same way regular telephone networks are considered utilities, but the Obama administration wants data services to be reclassified to make the internet neutral ground for all web services. Wheeler has said he will bring a net neutrality proposal to a vote on February 26.