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Exclusive: AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages


Exclusive: AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages

Exclusive: AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages
Notices To Go Out This Week, Capping Begins May 2
Broadband Reports was the first to learn, and has confirmed with AT&T, that the company will be implementing a new 150GB monthly usage cap for all DSL customers and a new 250 GB cap on all U-Verse users starting on May 2. From March 18 to March 31, AT&T users are going to be receiving notices informing them of the change in the company's terms of service. AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom confirmed the news to Broadband Reports after we initially contacted him last Friday concerning a leaked copy of the upcoming user notification. According to Bloom, the cap will involve overage charges. However, only users who consistently exceed the new caps will have to deal with these charges.

This is how it will work: only users who exceed the new usage cap three times -- across the life of your account, not per month -- will be forced to pay these new per byte overages. Overages will be $10 for every 50GB over the 150 GB or 250GB limit they travel.

AT&T claims their average DSL customer uses around 18GB a month, and these changes will only impact about 2% of all DSL customers -- who the company states consume "a disproportionate amount of bandwidth."

"Using a notification structure similar to our new wireless data plans, we'll proactively notify customers when they exceed 65%, 90% and 100% of the monthly usage allowance," AT&T tells us. The company also says they'll provide users with a number of different usage tools, including a usage monitor that tracks historical usage over time, and a number of different usage tools aimed at identifying bandwidth-hungry services.

Regular readers will recall that this isn't AT&T's first experimentation with usage-based-billing. The company conducted trials of capped services and overages in Reno, Nevada and Beaumont, Texas in 2008. Those trials involved users facing caps ranging from 20GB to 150GB -- and per gigabyte overages up to $1 per gigabyte. The efforts were discontinued in early 2010. In contrast to those trials, which involved capturing nearly all users in an overage net -- this effort is aimed squarely at what AT&T considers consistently heavy users.

"We are committed to providing a great experience for all of our Internet customers," AT&T tells Broadband Reports. "We will communicate early and often with these customers so they are well aware of their options before they incur any additional usage charges," the company says. "Importantly, we are not reducing the speeds, terminating service or limiting available data like some others in the industry."

Keep in mind that AT&T is an investor in bandwidth-intensive services like OnLive's HD game streaming platform, and that the heavy user of today is inevitably the standard user of tomorrow. There's several questions reporters and consumers should now ask, such as whether such overages would be possible in truly competitive markets, or if AT&T has any raw data proving this kind of action is truly necessary. The over-arching question however is: does AT&T scale these caps and overages to accommodate for the dropping cost of bandwidth and hardware moving forward, or do they bend to inevitable investor pressure and continually tighten the metered billing noose?
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Message 1 of 18

Re: Exclusive: AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages

sfleury1: I like that argument. In my opinion, those who have wireless service with AT&T should drop them once their contracts are up and make sure AT&T knows why they are being dropped.  Where alternative choices are available for comperable broadband services, AT&T should be dropped and told they are being dropped because of the caps.  Where no comperable choices are available, people should reduce their level of service with AT&T and tell AT&T why.  If enough people do these things, perhaps they will get the message.  Otherwise, AT&T will consider this new policy a success and other companies will follow suit with their own caps.  By the way, Comcast already imposes a 250GB cap on all of their residential services, and their speeds go even higher.


Also, Verizon has announced that they will NOT be capping their DSL or FiOS networks.  So if Verizon is a choice for people, go with them.


For me, I do not have a wireless account with AT&T.  The only hi-speed internet available in my area, so far as I've been able to determine (Muncie, Indiana) is from AT&T and Comcast.  If anyone knows of other choices, please let me know.  I currently subscribe to AT&T's U-verse Elite internet plan, but my contract is up in June.  I do not have their TV service.  I have DirecTV.  I was considering moving to U-verse for my TV once my DirecTV contract expires this summer, but I obviously won't be doing that now.  


AT&T, are you listening?  I think you're going to lose more money from lost revenue than you're going to gain from overages and decreases in bandwidth usage.  

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Message 16 of 18

Re: Exclusive: AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages

If you're concerned about overage charges, you should downgrade your DSL service. Most legitimate streaming services like youtube and Netflix will reduce streaming quality and bandwidth if your connection cannot handle HD. It's reduced quality, but also much harder to go over this exploitative limit set by AT&T.


It would be crazy for anyone to upgrade their service if they don't want to be charged for overage, ON TOP of what they willingly pay for a better connection.


It seems a self-defeating money-grab to me. I'm even considering cable now, which I never did before. Total download means nothing on a DSL line, and AT&T should be legally taken to task for abusing their monopoly in order to boost already-inflated profits.

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Message 17 of 18

Re: Exclusive: AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages

Yeah, this is garbage. I will cancell when they send me the 3rd notice. I know I use close to 1 TB per month. {Please keep it courteous}

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Message 18 of 18
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