AT&T Jumps Into The Metered Broadband Game

from the not-too-surprising dept

As was widely expected, AT&T has officially jumped into the metered broadband game, initiating a system in Reno, with caps ranging from 20 to 150 gigabytes per month, depending on tier, and overage fees at $1/gigabyte. These caps are significantly lower than Comcast's caps, though higher than we've seen elsewhere. At this point, it's become pretty clear that all of the major ISPs seem to want to adopt such tiers and overage fees, which I still think will come back to bite them. It would be an opportunity for others to offer more competitive offerings if the FCC hadn't done everything possible to kill off competition in the broadband space.


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  1.  
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    bjc (profile), Nov 4th, 2008 @ 6:07pm

    I would happily pay for metered broadband if it was delivered the same way my gas, water and electricity are.

    I can use as much water as all of my taps will pour out. If I am away on vacation for a month I might not use any at all. If my house is on fire, I can use the hydrant out front to deliver a whole lot of water really quickly.

    Give me broadband net access with basically unlimited bandwidth when I ask for it (fire hydrant), AND no fees when I don't use it and I am sold.

    If I want to download an HD movie on my AppleTV, I would know that it costs 35 cents in bandwidth. I would know my IMAP connections cost 7 cents per day. If I needed to upload a bunch of stuff to my webserver/office/buddy I would be able to do it quickly and would knowingly pay for the privilege.

    I'm sure the Canadian service providers would find some way to ruin it with caps and 'system fees', but in an ideal world metered bandwidth is exactly what we need to convert Internet access from a luxury like cable TV to a basic commodity like water.

     

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    Eric, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 6:34pm

    This is a Step Backwars and Is very bad.

    What people don't see is this is a step backwards in technology which is a bad thing we should be pushing the boundaries not scaling back.

    Also if the cable providers laid out there networks and managed them properly which they have more then enough $$$$ to do in the first place they would not have to take these measures services such as fios and other fiber based services do not have these limitations.

     

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    Eric, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 6:35pm

    This is a Step Backwards and Is very bad.

    What people don't see is this is a step backwards in technology which is a bad thing we should be pushing the boundaries not scaling back.

    Also if the cable providers laid out there networks and managed them properly which they have more then enough $$$$ to do in the first place they would not have to take these measures services such as fios and other fiber based services do not have these limitations.

     

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  4.  
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    BFD, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 6:41pm

    I don't want to pay for spam

    So, how does this 'tax' affect businesses? Like iTunes, flickr, netflix, xbox live, etc.

    Charges could also come into play with advertisements. How much is brought down in flash ADs, images and pop-ups, solicited or not? Let's talk about spam? Is the ISP metering my b/w utilization with respect to email? What a mess, what a mistake...

     

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  5.  
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    Eeqmcsq, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 8:05pm

    Re: This is a Step Backwards and Is very bad.

    Completely agree about going backwards, instead of moving forward, innovating and improving technology, and being able to do more. I see it as another way for them to rake in more money from their customers with what they currently have.

    Can you imagine if Intel/AMD took the same mindset on their CPUs? We'd be stuck with 1 GHz single core processors that have a limit of 1000 calculations per day. If you want more than that, you'd have to pay them to get more calculations.

     

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    abba12, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 8:25pm

    Oh poor america, boo-hoo. You're the only country that ever had unlimited internet, and your download limits are still much higher than is available anywhere here, so shut the hell up already, or come over to other western countries where the highest available bandwith per month is 60GB

     

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  7.  
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    SVR, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 8:44pm

    Metered Broadband

    This is Crap...I see it as a way for the ISP's to try to control more inside the walls of the internet.

    What's next? They slow down or control our up/downloads to milk more money from you? They try to restrict access to competitors web browsers or other sites?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 10:18pm

    or come over to other western countries where the highest available bandwith per month is 60GB

    Stop whining, I'm stuck on 20GB ;)

     

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  9.  
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    Paul`, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 12:46am

    This is the norm for Australia. I was happy getting my 12GB cap. No over usage fee's though, it gets slowed to dialup speed.

     

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  10.  
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    SteveD, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 1:55am

    I'd be curious to know what people are downloading to do over 150Gigs/month that doesn't involve downloading pirated movies 24/7.

     

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  11.  
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    Bob V, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 3:43am

    What are people downloading? Everything. Why does someone always have to bring in piracy. Bandwidth is just like a paycheck. You make more of course you will spend more. As the capabilities and bandwidth have grown peoples usage has grown with it.

    I stream audio and video podcast throughout my day as background noise while I work. When I get home I often have Hulu up to watch some tv episodes. The kids are constantly streaming videos from a variety of websites. My girlfriend has music streaming on he computer. Now there's another bandwidth sink coming up with netflix streaming HD to the xbox.

    Because the big entertainment companies managed to screw the pooch when it came to the next gen HD standard rather than having a BD player in the house I will be streaming my HD over my internet connection.

    So what I'm getting at here is its fairly easy to hit any cap implemented. As more and more of our home entertainment comes in over the internet to the big screen we're just going to use more bandwidth.

    For those who say Americans should feel lucky to have such huge caps. The ISPs are changing the rules at a time when bandwidth consumption is about to explode again. The overage charges are going to make the companies some money. Why should I feel lucky to go from unlimited to metered with no realistic choice to take my buisness elsewhere.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 4:46am

    Bob V..... very well stated

    in my home there are several computers always streaming something-legally. Even my satelite company offers HD PPV downloads over my internet connection. I also DL new Linux distros, huge game updates and mods. plus everything Bob had already mentioned. The ISPs gave us unlimited BW and the business took advantage of that. Now they could be out of business if these 'caps' become the norm instead of the ISPs improving thier out of date networks.

     

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    Revolutionary1, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 5:25am

    Simple solution. Every time an ISP adopts this crap, kill the CEO. There are more of us than there are of them. It is quite clear that those with power will use it over those who have none. There is no competition in broadband space as seen to by the ISP's with lots of money. Ultimately though, the people, an armed people, have more power should they chose to use it.

     

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  14.  
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    Some IT Guy, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 5:39am

    Quit complaining about your limit over in Australia or Europe. Here in the United States we don't like the idea of the limit, unlike you guys we'll likely do something about it.

    If that limit happens where I am I'll switch to something else.

    It's your own fault if you are downloading movies illegally, if you get caught then let the courts decide your fate not the ISPs.

     

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  15.  
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    Michael B, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 5:52am

    Putting the Squeeze on Content Providers

    All these caps will do is to hamper the development of new content and services. So far, the only ISPs here that seem to be capping usage or throttling speeds are those with a vested interest in "other" kinds of media, such as AT&T's U-Verse cable TV and, of course, my old buddy Comcast. If something threatens to diminish their revenue from PPV movies, etc., they quickly step in and put in some kind of "network management" technology (their euphemism for "limits") to slow down the spread of streaming technologies.

    Now, as to the people who constantly say "you ,ust be downloading tons of pirated movies", have you ever stopped to think about all of the streaming content that is now used? So many sites stream video, Flash, audio, etc. that will all go against the caps. Are you going to block all of that now? Services like Apple TV and Netflix, which LEGALLY distribute movies by download or streaming (Apple TV now, and Netlix soon, in HD) will see the use of their services fall because of the caps.

    So, basically, what comes across the Internet is evolving at a rapid pace, but the ISPs refuse to evolve with it.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 5:53am

    "Oh poor america, boo-hoo. You're the only country that ever had unlimited internet, and your download limits are still much higher than is available anywhere here, so shut the hell up already, or come over to other western countries where the highest available bandwith per month is 60GB"

    Seriously? You allowed them to do that to you. We're saying we aren't going to allow it here. I enjoy watching my streamed HD content from whatever provider I want to download from.

    "At this point, it's become pretty clear that all of the major ISPs seem to want to adopt such tiers and overage fees, which I still think will come back to bite them." Did I miss something, or has Verizon said something about a cap? I thought their entire platform was built on no caps and more bandwidth. If they ever get fios to me, I will vote with my dollars.

     

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  17.  
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    LBD, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 6:28am

    Re: I agree with bjc

    I agree with bjc but I feel that there's no way that things will work like that. Instead it will be a flat rate for XGB/month with overage fees of a dollar a GB (Or a dollar a MB) if you pass that, and a limited bandwidth.

    Which is epic fail instead of epic win.

     

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  18.  
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    chris (profile), Nov 5th, 2008 @ 6:53am

    Re:

    Give me broadband net access with basically unlimited bandwidth when I ask for it (fire hydrant), AND no fees when I don't use it and I am sold....metered bandwidth is exactly what we need to convert Internet access from a luxury like cable TV to a basic commodity like water.

    you want to pay *less* to a telecommunications company? i want to be the first non-catholic pope. you know what, i'll get my wish before you get yours.

    cable and telco bills always go up. you can't pay less. that's physically impossible. that's *never* going to happen.

    you always pay more. always. forever.

     

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  19.  
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    Yakko Warner, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 10:26am

    If everyone does it, where do you go?

    Not like there's any real competition anyway (cable is the only "broadband" I can get; where I live, DSL is barely faster than dialup), but if more and more ISPs implement a bandwidth cap, soon it'll be impossible to switch to a company that doesn't offer it, even in places where switching at all is a possibility.

    This sucks.

     

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  20.  
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    Nitro, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    Us American's have the right to grip and complain about caps being applied to our service. If you don't want to read it, close your web browser.

     

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  21.  
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    Bite Them? Nah, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 7:46pm

    It won't bite them. Look at the airline industry. Look at gas prices. Look at new car dealerships. One makes the jump, they all make the jump. Some setting is bound to happen but all know that if they make the jump, there is more net stability, less bitching from people and everyone makes a few more bucks off the pirates. YES PIRATES and don't go bitchin. You can't browse off 250GB per month dumba$$.

     

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  22.  
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    Powertoaster, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 8:03pm

    Death of Online Backup

    I am a recent subscriber to Carbonite backup for the family computer in my basement. I use this machine a lot to process and store the pictures I take with my nice DSLR. I have 500GB of pictures on this machine. At $1 per gig above 250gb my service provider would have made Carbonite's service way to expensive. Instead of $50 a year I would have been looking at around $300 the first year just for the additional backup. If my system crashed and I needed to restore I would be looking at a cost of around $250 again, assuming that I had not used my connection at all the rest of the month just to use my own files. Thats nuts!

     

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  23.  
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    Dave Burstein, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 9:51pm

    AT&T's charges

    Mike
    You're right on target that this wouldn't be happening if we had better competition. France and Japan have twice as many competitors as the U.S. in broadband. None of the major companies in France has any cap at all. One does in Japan, 900 gigabytes upstream, unlimited downstream.

    However, the U.S. needs a different solution to this problem than competition, because it's prohibitively unlikely for the next decade. Wireless is a small factor, without the capacity for high quality video and similar that is what drives people towards these caps. The best on wall street tell me no one would finance an alternative wired network in the U.S. .I love solving problems with competition, but it isn't likely here.

    If my assumptions above are accurate, how would you you deal with this problem?

    Dave Burstein

     

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  24.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 12:53am

    The customer service reps at AT&T don't even know about this yet, at least in places other than Reno. I called to ask if the caps applied to U-Verse service or just regular DSL (since U-Verse is supposed to have more bandwidth) and nobody I spoke to had even heard of this.

    If (who am I kidding? WHEN) they institute a cap in my state, I'll drop them. I still have at least one other choice that hasn't (as yet) capped their service. Hopefully by then Verizon FIOS will be available in this area.

     

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  25.  
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    BitBastard, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Western Internet Caps

    yah buddy, we pay a high end for a service, then a greedy corporation decides it's time to increase profits at the cost of thier customer base. Yes boho, AT&T is the worst at crapping on it's customers.

     

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  26.  
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    Andrew, Nov 9th, 2008 @ 10:00pm

    Monthly Capping Limits

    Check out this article on AT&T's capping limits: http://www.raidz.net/blog/att-new-capping-limits-unfair-customers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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