AT&T Inc (T) said it has been ordered to stop throttling the speed of Internet users and is taking steps to protect customers’ privacy.
Shares of AT&E Inc fell 6% to $69.90 in premarket trading after the FCC said it had directed the company to stop blocking, throttling and blocking advertisements, which are considered anticompetitive practices by the agency.
The order, which comes a week after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint with the agency, comes amid mounting pressure on ISPs and technology companies to act to curb internet piracy and cyberbullying.
“This order is a huge win for consumers and for innovation,” said Brian Cox, president and chief executive officer of Cox Communications Inc.
The FCC said that AT&Ts blocking practices “contribute to harmful online behavior, which contributes to a lack of competition, which harms consumers and stifles innovation.”
“These actions are necessary to protect consumers and prevent Internet providers from using their power to stifle innovation, and prevent the Internet from becoming a place of harassment, stalking and other abusive behavior,” FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in a statement.
The company, which was founded in 1884, has a $130 billion market value and is the largest US wireless carrier.
Cox said AT&ts was “shifting from its practice of blocking content, not blocking people,” and that it would now be “more effective in addressing online safety issues.”
The FCC did not specify when it would issue its final order, but Cox said it would likely come in early next year.
AT&Es shares have risen more than 400% in the past year as consumers increasingly embrace faster internet access.
On Monday, the FCC told AT&s that it had taken action against AT&t and Comcast, and that those companies “must immediately cease blocking, degrading or throttling Internet access and must provide information to the FCC as to how they are preventing, blocking, or degrading online content.”AT&T said it was “not aware” of the FCC order and that its actions would remain unchanged.