AT&T Proposes Plan To Track Downloads And Bandwidth Use
BY WHITNEY DITARANTO+ • FEBRUARY 5, 2014
AT&T is looking to launch a new system that would charge users based on how they spend their time online.The service provider proposed the use of a “credit system” in a new patent that was published in January and is still in the application stage, as reported by SPIN. This could mean heavier charges for those who frequent sites that require a lot of bandwidth or are big file downloaders.However, the change in service plan may not be bad news for everyone. The patent would allow for AT&T to sell different types of service plans to their customers, awarding them with an initial number of credits. Content downloaded by the customer would be deemed either “permissible or non-permissible” as stated in the patent. If the content is permissible, then credits will be restored, if not, the user will be given an amount of credits less than the initial amount.Those who are light internet users may benefit from the new plan, while avid downloaders may justifiably be enraged at the proposal.
AT&T’s new patent is being proposed in the midst of an ongoing argument over network neutrality – the idea that service providers should treat sites equally and not charge users individual rates based on the types of sites they visit.Many musicians have been open about their support of net neutrality and internet openness. A growing number are joining forces with the Future of Music Coalition’s Rock the Net campaign, which supports the same principle. Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Ted Leo, Boots Riley, Death Cab for Cutie, and OK Go are just a few on the list.The Future of Music Coalition website recognizes action taken by the Federal Communications Commission to protect net neutrality, despite recent steps taken by the courts to undermine it.“
In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took an important step toward keeping the internet accessible to all,” the website reads. “Those rules have since been overturned in a court decision that could be devastating for musicians and fans.”The new plan proposed by AT&T would charge customers based on their content and bandwidth use. The system could mean positive or negative changes depending on the individual user, but more importantly, the proposal contributes to a bigger conversation about net neutrality and internet rights.
There is no 'nuetrality' about this. Tests are already showing how companies are slowing connections to netflix and hulu plus and denying they're doing so just to force people into using their services instead.