California appeals court revives U.S. agency's case against AT&T

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - A full-panel of a California appeals court ruled on Monday that the Federal Trade Commission may push forward with its lawsuit alleging that AT&T Inc was deceptive in slowing internet speeds to customers with unlimited plans.

The agency sued AT&T in 2014 on the grounds that the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier failed to inform consumers it would slow, or "throttle," the speeds of heavy data users on unlimited plans. In some cases, data speeds were slowed by nearly 90 percent, the FTC said.

AT&T had argued that it was exempt from FTC regulation because it is a common carrier. A three-member appeals court agreed, and the FTC appealed to a full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. That larger court ruled for the agency and revived the lawsuit.

"Todays decision on jurisdiction does not address the merits of the case. We are reviewing the opinion and continue to believe we ultimately will prevail," AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said.

The FTC did not immediately responded to a request for comment. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Susan Thomas)