AT&T Jumps Into The Metered Broadband Pool; 150 Gig Limit For DSL

from the don't-stream-too-much-there... dept

Over the weekend, Broadband Reports broke the story that after plenty of talk about it, AT&T is implementing broadband caps and overage fees. The caps are 150GB per month for DSL and 250GB per month for U-verse. AT&T claims that it’s trying to be flexible, and the cap isn’t quite a “hard cap.” That is, subscribers will only be expected to pay overage fees if they go over the cap 3 times. But, if they do, the overage fees kick in, and it’s $10 per 50 additional GB. AT&T had tested similar caps in the past, but the decision to implement these on a wider scale is pretty much the company publicly admitting that there isn’t enough competition in the market, so it can put in place these kinds of limitations.

Now, I’m sure that plenty of people will say that 150GB is pretty high, and AT&T itself claims that only 2% of its current users tend to go over that amount. But… that’s today. There are a large number of new apps and new uses for the internet that are increasing our use of broadband, and putting caps and meters on the end risks slowing down innovation in very serious ways. If people suddenly have to be worried about testing out some new high bandwidth streaming app, because they’re afraid to make use of their connection, that risks harming a variety of potentially useful new apps and services. I know that, for example, once Sprint put caps on its EVDO/3G data service, I massively decreased my use of it (even though I don’t think I ever came near the caps) just because I didn’t even want to have to think about the risk or the fact that a single click might drive me much closer to the cap and overage fees. That mental transaction cost can be quite big, and I don’t think the broadband providers recognize how powerful it can be.

Once again, the real issue here is the lack of competition. Despite claims to the contrary, plenty of places still really only have a single provider, and those that don’t often are limited to just a single other provider (cable), with many of the providers there offering caps as well. AT&T is claiming that it’s doing this to stop congestion on the network — and even told the WSJ that bandwidth hogs were clogging the network — but folks like Dave Burstein who follow this issue closely claim that congestion is minimal and that AT&T lied to the WSJ (who, it should be noted, didn’t appear to question the claim).

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Comments on “AT&T Jumps Into The Metered Broadband Pool; 150 Gig Limit For DSL”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I canceled my service πŸ™‚ all of them, went with other carriers and service providers. eff em. money talks and all other bull shiz walks.

Remind them often durring the call caps of any sort are unacceptable. and that their transfer speed is no where near their advertised speed. If you have their cell service, get a hold of tech support claim you have no signal get that free cisco micro-cell from them then cancel their wireless service πŸ™‚

greedy bastards.

Anonymous Sponge says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m one of the lucky ones. Not only does my ISP not bother with “overage” charges, they also seem to ignore legal threats. I’ve never gotten a single one as a loyal customer of over a decade now.

If people want to know whether this will affect them, select Help > Show Statistics in uTorrent. Currently mine says 289 GB transfered over the past 31 days. Usually it is over 300 GB. This is mostly for HDTV, despite the fact that I pay my provider for that service as well. I find the quality is better, as is the convenience of a torrent site versus constantly programming the PVR.

Make no mistake, the news we keep hearing about usage based billing (which technically isn’t when compared to things like gas, electric, etc) in the US and Canada is 100% about stomping out competition from streaming, and has nothing to do with congestion, a convenient lie they naively expected everyone to believe.

AJ says:

Not going to happen!

I spend about $225.00 a month with these guys, and i WILL go back to Dish and a dsl if they do this. The ONLY reason i got this was so i could stream HD tv and movies, without that, they are useless to me. The bad news=I have to start using redbox again… The good news= i save over 100 bucks a month…….

This has nothing to do with clogging up the network, and everything to do with stomping out the streaming TV industry thats competing with them. Why hasn’t the gov gone after them for anti cometitive behavior? Bastards….

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Not going to happen!

You make an excellent point that I missed before, namely that this is cutting out streaming competition. They explicitly state that TV usage (which is still streamed through the same connection) is exempt from the tally. Doesn’t a household pulling down four TV shows (two in HD) at-a-time hit the network harder than someone downloading from Hulu/Netflix/BT/etc.?

AJ says:

Re: Re: Not going to happen!

The worst part is, i pay $140 for the TV channels, $70 for internet 12mbs, and $20 for phone.

Since I’m not one of the 2% that they are saying cause problems here’s what I’m thinking.

I dump the entire service, go with a dsl that has the cheapest overage charges and a good meter. Then i treat the whole thing like a pay-as-you-go TV, internet, and voip. So I pay 65 bucks, plus $10.00 per 50 gigs or whatever, but, i only pay for what i use..

Not unlimited means I’m paying for a specific amount of usage, if i don’t use that amount i expect to pay less.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not going to happen!

“Not unlimited means I’m paying for a specific amount of usage, if i don’t use that amount i expect to pay less.”

I hadn’t thought of that and you’re right. They are technically saying, “You get XX GB of data a month for $XX.XX.” They are defining what you get for your money. The thing of it is, you’re not getting that, because the cap is there to discourage you from reaching or exceeding it. So they’re charging you for a certain amount of service and then doing everything they can to discourage you from actually getting your money’s worth. If I’m not using the 150 GB I’m allotted every month, I should be able to deduct an equivalent amount from my bill.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Not going to happen!

First, I’m an AT&T customer and dislike this new plan just as much as the rest of you. However, I don’t think the idea of getting money back for unused bandwidth is going to fly.

Consider non-AT&T cell phone packages (i.e. Verizon) – say a plan that gets you 700 minutes of airtime a month. If you don’t use all 700 minutes, do you get money back at the end of the month?

How about a gym membership where you pay a monthly membership (or annual) fee? Do you get money back if you don’t go every day?

How about Netflix? Do you get money back if you only rent/stream one movie in an entire month?

It feels good to say “pay me back for what I don’t use”, but we accept that in many other places so I doubt it will happen here.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Not going to happen!

“Consider non-AT&T cell phone packages (i.e. Verizon) – say a plan that gets you 700 minutes of airtime a month. If you don’t use all 700 minutes, do you get money back at the end of the month?”

apples and oranges.. Uverse doesn’t offer any tiers for useage (just speeds), where in cell phone you can buy what you expect you’ll need.

“How about Netflix? Do you get money back if you only rent/stream one movie in an entire month?”

Again, no cap, watch movies all day if you like. If your talking about the shiny disks, thats not really the same now is it?

“How about a gym membership where you pay a monthly membership (or annual) fee? Do you get money back if you don’t go every day?”

You don’t get money back, but there is no usage caps either… apples and oranges…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not going to happen!

There are different ways to do IP TV. The most significant is that the delivery of the programming is made to your local C/O or connectivity point (some are remote) as a single block, and then switched and served as needed. The bandwidth is only on the C/O to your home, which is basically your local loop. Network usage doesn’t increase for them to provide IP TV, because it isn’t routed through their actual full network.

When you stream from a third party, you have to go through their full network, which actually impacts them at each step in their network. It’s a very different animal.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re: Not going to happen!

“When you stream from a third party, you have to go through their full network, which actually impacts them at each step in their network. It’s a very different animal.”

I appriciate your insight, but regardless of the reason, they have rendered themselves mediocre and are now subject to me price shopping them as they are no longer the best game in town….. talk about shooting yourself in the foot lol…

They have also made me look at this in a whole new light. Perhaps “unlimited” isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. If i’m in the low end area of usage ( I stream some HD but not a whole lot), why do i pay the same price as the high end or just below the cap users? Maybe i should go the other direction, get the lowest lier and just pay for overages as needed? I bet i would save a boat load of money!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Not going to happen!

why do i pay the same price as the high end or just below the cap users?

You have just explained why bandwidth caps are getting put in place. It isn’t to limit anyone (you can always buy more), it is about selling access is reasonable sizes to people, all the while controlling the costs of offering such services.

Paying for unlimited access is like being forced to always buy the triple cheeseburger and the super 97 ounce cola even if all you want is a single and a small drink. For the small number of users who actually use a ton of bandwidth, they can always “supersize” accordingly, but for most people, the smaller tiers will be more than enough.

150 gig. 5 gig a day, basically a full DVD uncompressed every day of the month. Most people just don’t get to that level. Perhaps in the future, but we aren’t living in the future, we are living now.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Not going to happen!

FUD! Pure and simple!

If that’s what they were trying to do, then why not a per Gig price? Send me a bill at the end of the month!!?

The truth is it has nothing to do with fairness (or cheeseburgers for that matter), and everything to do with shutting down the competition.

“the caps are for is a direct barrier to market for TV services delivered over the Internet, which directly compete with AT&T’s own offerings. It’s plainly anti-competitive and a huge conflict of interest.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Not going to happen!

Not really.

Your local grocery store does home delivery. So does UPS. Should UPS have to deliver the groceries for free because they were “going to be there anyway”? There is nothing obliging the internet companies to cannibalize their phone or TV businesses just to satisfy your desire to get something cheaper from people who aren’t paying for infrastructure.

Zyf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Not going to happen!

It’s not all about a cash grab for everyone. I use Comcast Cable, and they too have a 250Gb Data cap. However they don;t charge for overages. If you go over their cap 3 times, they simply cancel you service and don’t allow you to sign up with them for 12 months. I had 1 month where I used 1.5TB ( 1500Gb ) all attributed to Netflix streaming. So even in today’s broadband 250gb is a very small cap, and 150 is minuscule.

I too was wondering what the best way was to petition these broadband carriers. Try to convince them of the need to eliminate the caps before they risk destroying their customer base.

With so much video streaming being introduced, Cloud Console gaming emerging, and so much more bandwidth heavy apps being brought out these caps need to seriously be re-evaluated by these ISP’s. Whether they are doing it as a cash grab or spite… All they are really going to accomplish is to shoot themselves in the foot. I foresee them loosing more money on this in the long run then they think they’ll make now.

Joseph K (profile) says:

Why no competition

It’s seems pretty clear to me, that the only feasible solution to this situation is to improve competition among internet providers. But to do that, we need to know why there is so little competition. Personally, I’m not really clear on what the reason is. Is it a an infrastructure problem (too expensive to build new infrastructure for new competitors)? Is it a regulation problem (regulations creating high hurdles for new competitors)? Is it a demand problem (people simply aren’t demanding alternatives because one ISP is as good as another)? Either which way, such caps, if they become more widespread, could encourage competition.

NetSurfer (profile) says:

Re: Why no competition

It is the ILEC’s and the last mile, and the removal of requirements to provide access to competitors. Basically the local bell controls the wire from the central office to your home, and they can determine who can access that line. Unless someone is willing to bring in their own infrastructure, the ILEC’s have you by the boys. They used to be required to play nice with competitors, but not any more. Deregulation leads to more competition, right? Name one example of federal deregulation that did not result in either higher prices, less competition, or worse service.

Rabbit80 says:


“Once again, the real issue here is the lack of competition.”

Here in the UK we have plenty of competition in the marketplace for ISPs. I could name at least 20 or 30 off the top of my head. 95% of them have a “Fair Usage Policy” which generally means a cap – usually they won’t even tell you what that cap is. Typically it is only around 40Gb.

scarr (profile) says:

I was very upset to hear this news over the weekend. I’ve been with U-Verse for a long while now, and this makes me want to switch. I don’t know how close or not I come to the barrier, but knowing that it’s out there is troublesome to me.

As the article points out, there isn’t much competition in the marketplace, and I live in central Houston! As I also understand it, Comcast already put limits on their connections, so the only high-speed alternative isn’t any better. If I really want to do anything about it, I need to move to another continent.


Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re right, people will generally take $10 today over $11 tomorrow, despite the fact that it’s more money. The human brain is wired to seek out the quick payoff rather than the better reward further down the road.

That’s why corporations are hesitant to invest money into something today that won’t increase profit until 2 or 3 years down the road. They spend all of their time and energy seeking instant gratification rather than being patient when opportunities arise that could provide even greater returns. They live and die by what their quarterly reports says about them.

It’s like the J.G. Wendtworth ads, “It’s my money and I want it now!”, even though waiting for it will result in a higher payoff because you’re not taking out an annuity loan that charges interest.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

maybe if they stopped lying in their advertising about their unlimited service then people would not have that silly expectation that unlimited actually means unlimited.

Maybe if they invested in the network rather than lining their pockets a bit more, they would have the capacity to meet what they advertised.

Imagine if they stopped paying webshills and congress critters and used that money to increase the capacity.

They called it unlimited and are failing to meet that… but it is the users fault? Nice try mr astroturfer πŸ™‚

NetSurfer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No, when you buy a pipe of X speed you are supposed to get that speed, symmetric, 24×7. If you want to peg that circuit you are paying for it, so go for it. That is how it worked until DSL and cable came along.

What we need is a combination of network co-ops and point to point microwave providers. That bypasses the monopoly the bell and cable companies have under the street or on the poles. It becomes cost effective if you can spread the costs across multiple homes. You could slice out dedicated bandwidth for each home via QoS with bursting when more capacity is available. No quotas. Everyone can stream a movie at the same time.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“people who think they should be able to get unlimited something without having to pay more for it.”

Right……..because paying for the more expensive, higher speed, “unlimited” option shouldn’t make you think that you can have unlimited access…. Unlimited only means unlimited if and when your internet provider says it does, and is subject to change at their whim, right??

I just ditched Comcast cable services in favor of Netflix and Hulu+ streaming services, because they’re about 10% of the cost monthly, and I get more enjoyment from them. This type of move is designed to make that a much less viable option, so that AT&T in this case, can keep as many of their customers as they can, by ruining the alternatives. It’s a greedy move that is enabled by a lack of competition. There is no disputing that fact.

IrishDaze (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now . . . Hell, Houston Comcast is so expensive (and U-Verse not available) that I’d even be willing to sign up for a third service to supplement the Huly/Netflix combo.

My problem is that I’m addicted to Headline News, Science Channel, History/History International, and ID (C&I would be an acceptable substitute).

Suggestions as to replacing these babies in a non-Comcast/U-Verse household?

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Check out some of the channels available on the Roku Channel store….not sure offhand where you can get a look though. Boxee also makes a set top box that is supposed to allow you to get most web content on your tv as well.

Personally, if I were a smart executive at a cable tv channel, I would also be broadcasting over the web. Let people watch live on the web as it’s being broadcast on TV, or let them choose programming that has already been aired, and watch those with less/no commercials. A station like Comedy Central, Discovery, or the History Channel should be able to make a killing with this….just turn that web stream into an app that can be loaded onto Roku/Boxee/PS3/xBox360/etc. and then sit back and watch people ditch Comcast left and right… I have friends who really only have their TV subscription to watch those three channels whenever they don’t feel like watching netflix. They would pay a monthly fee for them too. I really don’t understand why this isn’t happening.

Anonymous Coward says:

This cap is artificial and is meant to slow down the adoption of new technologies.
How can you prove that crazy AC guy?
Because the services AT&T offers never count towards your cap.

So AT&T Movie streaming, no bandwidth is used… but if you want to stream from NetFlix well there you go you evil bandwidth hog!

So people will stick with the AT&T solutions, which given how little they put into the network, will be quick knock offs of useful programs.

Somewhere in the text I am sure they will reserve the right to make your use of nonAT&T services limited to protect the network. Because if caps can not scare you, throttling your use to “protect” the network will make you prefer AT&T solutions.

One also wonders if bandwidth is so expensive and precious are they going to credit the other 98% of their network for the amount under the cap they are each month? Rollover GB FTW?

This is odd given how the claim that only 2% of the users were killing their cell internet traffic, and then discovered they were just the early adopters of the newer technology.

They want to make sure that progress slows down to a level where they can be in control and keep their solutions as the “best” pick.

Just wait until they prove the usage meters are just made up number generators with no oversight. Like when Comcast did it and were crucified by people with logs from their routers that disagreed with Comcasts numbers by a large margin.

There is no reason to innovate when you can choke the connection to kill off the competition.

teemark says:

Re: Re:

Well said. I have the AT&T U-Verse and it is essentially one 32Mbps connection (I am relatively close to the node. Further from the node, and the total Mbps drops. It’s Fiber to the node, then basically a dsl from there to the home.) They use a QOS type of management to segregate 8Mb off the top for IPTV service (they’re licensing Microsoft’s Media Room technology), then up to 24Mbps service is available, but they will rarely let you have that full 24. Being within 100 yards of the node, I was able to get them to up the service to 18Mbps.
However, I am dropping the TV portion of my service this month, and getting all my video from the web via Netflix, Amazon, etc… mostly through my Roku.
My feeling is I am exactly the type of consumer AT&T is targeting with this cash grab. And let’s be honest, this is nothing more than a cash grab, and they’re doing it simply *because the can!*
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on my usage, and if necessary I’ll be switching bad to TW Roadrunner.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think you’ve explained this more succinctly than anyone else at this point.
To my knowledge, not that there’s much of it, AT&T doesn’t have a separate infrastructure to carry their streaming services to your house, so to that end, bits are bits. AT&T is just not going to penalize you for consuming their bits, and thereby muscle out competing content delivery services (hulu, netfix, etc).

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This cap is artificial and is meant to slow down the adoption of new technologies.

No. The cap is real. The backbone can only carry so much information. The local loop can only carry so much information. It’s very real. I feel it every day when the kids get home from school. The internet bandwidth drops.

Now is it meant to slow the adoption of new technologies? I think you mean to say it will just happen to slow the competing technologies that also want to grab as much bandwidth as possible. Yeah, I’m sure AT&T and other ISPs hope to capitalize on this, but the limits are real and not a scheme.

It’s called “The Death of the Commons”. Read up on it.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is a real limit to the amount of network traffic that can occur at any given time but that isn’t what this cap is trying to fix. This cap isnt going to help your local network from being clogged when all the neighborhood kids get home from school. The only way to do that would be to charge more during high usage times like a lot of electric companies do to discourage use during that time. Which would be horrible.

This cap discourage people from switching from traditional ways of receiving their entertainment to non-traditional internet means of receiving entertainment (cord cutters). Normal daily usage will not approach this cap but for those people that are streaming all their television and movies as a way to save money by not paying for cable tv may have issues.

So while I agree that there is a limit on how much data can be on moving on a network at once, that isn’t what they are addressing. They are making an artificial cap to keep people form using new technologies that have high data usage while not penalizing people who receive the same data but do it over their paid tv service, which uses just as much bandwidth on your local node.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No the backbone can carry much more than it currently does.
The crappy cheap implementation of the technology has lead to them needing to do something. There is plenty of bandwidth, the choke point is where they connect in your neighborhood.
They have not invested in the local lines to meet the demand they created. Rather than add another line, they took the cheap method of splitting the lines.

Rather than stop selling unlimited plans, they tried network management and now are moving onto usage caps.

Now all these people have a service that they use all the time, and it strains the network. Is that the end users fault or is this a glaring example of AT&T ignoring rising demand until it begins to affect other users.

While AT&T had record years for their iPhone exclusivity, their network was brought to its knees in major areas by using the device as advertised. They talk about how much they have improved it, but they still use caps to try to limit how people use their “unlimited” data plans.

Maybe if they stopped trying to play games with definitions of unlimited and speeds up to and came clean it would be less annoying.

And gee one would think U-Verse content being shoveled down the local loop would be overwhelming the system to, but it gets a free pass. This is about using their control of the wire to push their products. They have a problem with their network because they allowed it and are now trying to cash in.

s7ar says:

I’d imagine that watching multiple HD shows on a TV does hit the network harder than Hulu or Netflix (I don’t know for sure but that conclusion seems to make sense). It’s not about the network though, it’s about the money. AT&T doesn’t get a penny for the shows you watch on Netflix or Hulu, but it gets top dollar for your premium HD channels.

I’m stuck with the choice of Comcast (a 250GB cap) or DSL and I struggle with the decision from month to month. Comcast and Level 3 (Netflix’s ISP) are in court right now trying to decide if Comcast gets to tax Level 3 for letting Comcast customers watch Netflix. They’re trying to cap the service and get paid for it

Personally I think that broadband ISPs are getting out of control and the FCC better pick up their game when it comes to Net Neutrality sooner rather than later.

DH's Love Child (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Personally I think that broadband ISPs are getting out of control and the FCC better pick up their game when it comes to Net Neutrality sooner rather than later.

Um, I do NOT want the FCC anywhere near this one. It’s their fault that the last mile is not open to competition. I would rather see the FTC grow a pair and start slapping these clowns around.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Metered Broadband

AT&T is going to roll out a meter you can check… online…
And they will not start this until your covered by the meter.

You are to accept they are going to be honest and the meter is going to be accurate.

Several brands of routers offer logging where you can keep track of all of the traffic passing through it so you could compare your records to AT&T’s.

The problem is this AT&T meter is going to magically somehow never record your usage of AT&T products, and I am unsure how you account for that in a router log.

Rob says:

Re: Re: Metered Broadband

“The problem is this AT&T meter is going to magically somehow never record your usage of AT&T products, and I am unsure how you accountfor thatina router log.”

Simple– Don’t use any of the substandard AT&T services. Every ISP I’ve used in the last 10-12 years I’ve considered to be a pipe and nothing more. Why use AT&T’s email when there are so many free alternatives? Why use their streaming audio/video services when there’s Netflix/Pandora/Shoutcast/etc?

The bandwidth meter on my end should equal AT&T’s.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Share your bandwidth

Be careful what you wish for. It’s one thing to dodge the RIAA when you’re downloading massive amounts of information. It’s another to slow down the connections of all your neighbors. And that’s what will happen. My cable loop already slows down when the kids get home from school. Maybe they’re working on projects. Maybe they’re downloading. I don’t care. But you’ll pit neighbor against neighbor in the battle over who gets to use all of the bandwidth. This is why someone wrote the famous essay, “Death of the Commons.”

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

My cell phone service is thru Alltel which is now switching to AT&T. I have no cap currently on internet usage with my Blackberry, but AT&T really really really wanted to give me an iPhone. Of course, that requires a new 2-year contract with AT&T and a hard cap on usage.

So, screw ’em. I took the Android and no cap. Duh. “Only 2% hit the cap.” Whatever. It’s lower than people think. That’s where the real money is at. I think the cap they offered was 10GB/month. I think that goes real fast when you start streaming (Pandora, Slacker Radio, etc.) And like AJ pointed out, that may be their real target.

Shon Gale (profile) says:

I hate AT&T because they are traitors to the very people they milk. Them being in bed with Homeland Security with censorship, monitoring us and profiling us. Screw AT&T if they die I would be very happy. I hope the competition chokes them to death. AT&T SUCKS. They have horrible service, horrible equipment and a bunch of wazoos running it. Please don’t buy it. I would do without internet if AT&T was the only choice. Better yet. I’d move somewhere else.

mjb5406 (profile) says:

Well, at least it's not how Comcast does it...

The AT&T U-Verse cap is identical to Comcast’s High Speed Internet cap (350GB/month) with one important exception… at least AT&T has an “overage” charge. I think I’d be a bit more willing to accept that than Comcast’s policy… they disconnect your service if you do it more than once. No overage charges… you’re just gone. I know Techdirt and other tech sites complained about that when Comcast implemented it some time ago, but since then, not s lot has been said. Now that AT&T is following suit, maybe there will be more attention paid to the situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

The story behind this is...

…that is no shortage of bandwidth at all. The entire construct is completely artificial.

How do I know? 30 years of network engineering.

The point of these exercises is to create artificial scarcity in order to generate billable events — because it’s all and I mean ALL, about the money. See some of Bob Frankston’s commentaries — he explains it far better than I can.

Bengie says:


They should only count data towards caps while the network is at least 85% usage.

Give users a way to see network usage or advertise typical peak hours.

Last I checked, whole sale costs of bandwidth in 10gb increments is only $1/mbit. 1mbit/s over an entire month is ~300GB. So one could say 300GB costs them $1.

The only time bandwidth really costs money is when a line gets over-saturated during peak hours, but find a way to educate users on proper times to use high-bandwidth apps.

Rekrul says:

I just called AT&T’s customer service number (800-288-2020) and asked about this. The customer rep. I spoke to hadn’t heard anything about usage caps. She checked with someone else and they had no information either. So AT&T hasn’t even notified their people that this is coming.

For what it’s worth, I was told that since I’m an existing customer, my account should be “grandfathered” in as unlimited. I told her that if it isn’t, I’ll be canceling my account.

The ironic part is that she told me that they received a lot of new subscribers when the cable companies started imposing usage caps.

If you’re an AT&T customer, call the 800 number NOW and threaten to cancel your account if this goes through. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any other options, call and tell them that you’ll do it.

Maybe if enough people do this, they’ll back off. I know it’s unlikely, but it beats sitting around waiting for it to happen.

I was promised an unlimited account when I signed up. I was told that AT&T would never impose any kind of limits on my account. I don’t care what loopholes they stick in the fine print, I want what I was promised.

Anonymous Coward says:

As an Uverse Subscriber, it looks like when the cap hits, I call the next one down the list and turn off ATT, and when they ask I will tell them straight up, I bought Unlimited, and you decided to change it, and did i get a refund, did the price go down, Nope, you want the same price for less service that i now have to monitor, PISS OFF… Have a nice day… Drop the cap and I might come back.. But i doubt it…

I just hope the average sheeple out there figure it out and run from them in droves its the only way they drop the cap… I know lots of hope riding on the idiots out there (proven time and again by both left and right)…

AJ says:


Att Customer service is saying that the launch of data caps for U-Verse is TBD.
Wow…. SomeJoe7777 sure let em have it with this post on the att forum…
“Net neutrality has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of total data caps, and to imply that it does is pure FUD.

By AT&T’s own admission, the average DSL user uses 18GB of total data transfer per month, and they also state that only 2% of their customers will be affected by the total data cap. Let’s average that out and see exactly how much total data transfer AT&T will save on their network assuming that the caps cause everyone who is over the limit to no longer be:

We’ll assume that the average user who exceeds the caps are very heavy downloaders, and exceed the cap by a decent amount (say 50GB). For DSL, the cap is going to be 150GB, for U-Verse it’s 250GB. Let’s assume this 2% of users uses 200GB on DSL and 300GB on U-Verse per month.

The total data over 100 users is then:

98 * 18 GB + 200 GB + 300 GB = 2264 GB.

Averaging that over 100 users is: 2264 / 100 = 22.6 GB per month.

Forcing the 2 users to observe the bandwidth cap makes the total data per month per user:

98 * 18 GB + 150 GB + 250 GB = 2164 GB.

AT&T reduces the total data transferred over the network by:

(2264 – 2164) / 2264 = 4.4 %.

The imposition of caps saves AT&T less than 5% of total data transferred on the network. Combine that with the fact that no Internet Service Provider has ever once shown with hard data that there is any type of congestion issue, the conclusion is that the caps have absolutely nothing to do with the network capacity.

Instead, what the caps are for is a direct barrier to market for TV services delivered over the Internet, which directly compete with AT&T’s own offerings. It’s plainly anti-competitive and a huge conflict of interest.

Stop professing the company line of FUD that includes the non-viable net neutrality argument as well as the congestion argument, because neither have any shred of truth.”

The above post is not mine, it is from SomeJoe7777 at the link below.

Anonymous Coward says:

There are no bandwidth hogs.

You simply can not get more than you are allotted. Period. Full stop.

How fast you go in speed is determined by the ISP and if you downloaded or watched video or whatever 24/7 you can not increase the amount of usage, based on your total speed.

You are sold a package. In my case, Uverse Pro.

Having just moved to a new location, I found a deal on the radio advertising a year of net connection at $14.95. I am yet to this point (6 months into this year) to have the first bill to arrive correct from day one.

I’ve been charged for work not done. My wish at the time was a turn key job, as I had no telephone jacks. Plus I was to have received a modem/router.

Instead, the first tech after 10 days wait time could not find the location. The next tech, after another 10 wait, found it but had nothing but a wire up to the existing network interface, without modem, wiring, jacks, nor setup. So I bought the wire, the jack, the modem, and I installed it all, only to find out it didn’t work. (there was a break in the existing wire between me and the node)

A repairman was called with another 10 wait, whom replaced the wire to the node, leaving it laying on top of the ground until another crew (with another 10 wait) came to bury it. During that time, the sun on the cable heating it and the cooling at night created drop outs in the service.

I was charged for a network interface that was already there, a modem I never received, a full tech install even though the tech never entered the house to do it, and the full charge of a months service without the special, coming in at around $300.

Got all this removed from the bill by long waiting times while trying to get it straight. Every month since then has been past due amounts for money not owed and never the correct billing at any one time.

The billing people are good at what they do for AT&T. The tools AT&T gives them to do their jobs is horrid.

One of my first questions at the time was speed I would receive followed by a question about caps. I was assured there would be no caps.

Since I can’t steal a faster speed I can’t download more. Setting up more band width isn’t hard according to what I’ve read. The problem is back haul within the AT&T buildings. This is a matter of hardware, not usage.

AT&T is trying to use that to justify setting caps. Profit to the shareholder is more important than spending money to increase a service that will die. They are also interested in helping it die so they can switch to more profitable 3 and 4G networks with much lower caps built in.

AT&T will be happy to hear any account holder is moving their account. To them it means they are shedding those top 2%ers. I hope it goes far beyond that. I too will shed this account with them if they hold an account as soon as the year is done in favor of cable where I may obtain some decent speeds that I don’t get now. I realize my bill will go up but it will go up anyway, no matter what I do at the end of this year’s contract.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.”

And its not a money grab, and Santa is real. Its not triggered by being a consistent heavy user, its 3 times EVER. I guess they are raising extra money to expand the network.

One wonders how they figured out the average user only uses 18 Gig a month, and have they fired that firm for providing them really poor data.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Average” is completely the wrong metric to determine the majority of a group as I pointed out in another article about broadband. They’re just using that to justify their position with falsely.


vastrightwing (profile) says:

Fix your aging network; don't shape demand to fit.

Rather than penalize customers AT&T needs to fix their aging infrastructure with limited capacity to deal with demand, not shape demand to deal with their old network!

I don’t agree with the notion of consumption since there are no resources to use up. The infrastructure is fixed. Data is simply modulating light or voltage so it can represent data. Data (as such) doesn’t even exist. Nothing is consumed. The only resource is electricity and this too is fixed. Data centers use the same amount of power whether the network is being fully utilized or not. It’s not like they shut routers down at off peak times. Sure, AT&T must buy switches and lay cable but as I said, these costs are fixed and utilization changes nothing: the cost stays the same whether data is moving across the network or not. AT&T is trying to appeal to the masses by making false statements or statements which have nothing to do with anything.

Saying that 2% of the highest consumers are using 20% of available resources means nothing. So what. All this means is that at certain times, the network is busy. My answer is to fix the network. Look at it way, what is happening is that AT&T’s network has a very limited capacity. Customers are not “consuming” anything. What are they consuming? Data? Modulating light and voltage levels in a router? All that is happening is that AT&T’s infrastructure is hitting limits. This limit is not going to get higher anytime soon. So customers are complaining. Unlike electricity, “using” data does not create a load. Companies, like AT&T are great at making consumers confused about stuff so they can justify raising prices.

What AT&T wants to do is charge more and offer less. They don’t want to upgrade their equipment. They want instead to regulate demand. The only tools they have are to shape traffic and charge higher prices based on usage. Neither option is popular. What they need to do is upgrade their infrastructure with higher speed switches and we need more trunk lines. Yes, it is this simple.

So don’t listen to AT&T when they try to suggest that users are “consuming” bandwidth. This is a false metaphor: there is no consumption going on. They want you to think that some users are consuming something that costs money. This is not true. The problem is AT&T is not keeping their infrastructure up to date, they want to blame their customers for it. This is wrong on so many levels. Complain back to AT&T or your carrier that they are the problem. They need to fix their aging infrastructure to deal with demand, not shape demand to deal with their old network!

Matt Polmanteer (profile) says:


Some competition would be really nice. I would love to ditch at&t but my only other option is Time Warner. I want a static ip and the only way to get one from Time Warner is to upgrade to business class which is twice the cost to get 1/3 of the speed. The worst part is I have an AT&T line running through my yard, why don’t a I get some piece of their pie for giving them the rights to do this?

crystaltech says:

Est. time to cap.

I did some math,

Based on my own internet settings using the this is what i came up with.

1 gigabyte = 8 gigabits so 150gigs = 1200 gigabits

My speed is up to 3 megabit/sec.

my results if I where to download a 150gig file start to finish 24/7 at max speeds (knowing real speeds would be lower) I would cap in 5 days or 119.3 hours.

seems kinda skimpy as I don’t have Uverse.

now what if you do have uverse at the 3mbps speed and the 250gig cap.

8.3 days or 198.8 hours before cap.

and that’s to last a month.

anywho, thats just based off of if you were going to download 1 file that meets the total cap.

AW says:

I would be over this cap in less than one week, and it’s because I have 3 computers getting automatic updates or new installs of systems(I run linux on one of my boxes). So basically they are also going after open source. I was promised unlimited access at up to certain speeds, unlimited even by their terms is 24/7 access. Why am I being penalized for the CONTRACT they made. Why do they get to change their contracts as they want? i can’t just change how much I am going to pay and it’s not like there is any competition, federal law locks out competition. It’s near impossible to get phones without data plans, you can’t even purchase them outright and use their network without paying them. I am so tired of being treated like a cash machine for these companies, they wonder why people pirate? Because we feel we have already paid for it over and over and over again. I’ve had enough and I’m going to find a way to do something about it and put them all out of business while making myself rich, and when they come begging for a scrap of food to feed their starving kids, I’ll be sure to kick them while they are down.

Thomas says:

Being from New Zealand, where you can’t really get broadband without a cap, and plans with caps over about 80 GB are hideously expensive, I am wondering what there is to complain about with this deal. Seems pretty good to me, $10 per each 50GB over on a 150GB plan, even if it is USD, still seems quite reasonable to me. Costs me $1.50 NZD per 1 GB over the 90 GB plan I am on. Look at this:

Though, it has not been mentioned how fast the AT&T ADSL is, nor how much the base plan costs. Still, It is very likely that I am paying more for less, with slower speeds and greater latency

Seems to me that this is a lot of complaining over something that is really not worth complaining about.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

Seems to me that this is a lot of complaining over something that is really not worth complaining about.

People are complaining for four main reasons;

1. They were promised an unlimited account when they signed up.

2. AT&T isn’t lowering the rates, so they’re expecting people to continue paying the same price for reduced service.

3. No ISP has shown any real evidence that they actually need to limit monthly usage.

4. The real reason this is being done is to make it less practical to use online video alternatives like Netflix, which could encourage people to drop AT&T’s TV service.

Not to mention that while the caps and overage charges might seem reasonable now, there’s absolutely no proof that they won’t lower the caps and raise the charges. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that they change them within a year.

Also, don’t forget that once everyone is on a limited internet account, companies are going to much more hesitant about investing money in any kind of online service that uses large amounts of bandwidth. Isn’t it nice that the ISPs are getting to dictate what the net can be used for?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

how cute…”it’s not that bad”
i’m from some backwater country near you (hello neighbour :D), and even i think the pricing is outrageous. Although the pricing was very good compared with what i have here, have you see what internet costs for most of the Europe? This is USA we’re talking about…the founder of the internet, you may say. But it cost more in the US than in the Europe? really? really? have you considered why?

Gnothi Seauton (profile) says:

I’ve noticed that many of you are conflating the idea of usage over time (amount of traffic sent over a network over a specified time period, ie A Month) which we’ll call bandwidth, with the idea of usage at a specific time (the amount of traffic on a network at any given second.)which we’ll call latencywidth (Yes, that is a completely made up term, but it is to distinguish between the two very different measurements).

There is no real limit to the amount of bandwidth that can be transfered, only a limit to the amount of latencywidth that can be on the network at a specified time and of course different parts of the network can handle different amounts of latency.

In order to paint a picture of how a network actually handles bandwidth it is helpful to think of a map full of infinitely long (bandwidth) lines that are finitely wide (latencywidth). Due to the finite width of the line, a particular section of that line or road can only handle a limited amount of data/cars at a given moment, however there is no real limit to amount of data/cars that can pass over that particular spot over a period of time.

Usage caps, limit the amount of traffic you can use over time not at a specific time therefore imposing usage over time limits does not impede network congestion but rather impedes network usefulness.

To drive home this fact let us consider the averages for commonly used online services.

Viewing a webpage: 20KB – 5MB (dependent on amount of images, quality of images, etc)

Sending and receiving txt only email over web interface: ~.2MB (with no attachments)

Downloading a three-minute song:
~2-5MB (depending on encoding and quality)

Watching a video on youtube encoded at 360p: ~1MB/minute

Watching a 2hr, streaming movie on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. ~2GB @ 640×480 resolution.

Listening to online streaming music or podcast: ~56MB/hour assuming 128 Kb/s stream rate.

Playing online games (xbox, playstation, wow) ~10MB/Hour (up and down combined)

Now, due to the nature of our world, where the majority of people sleep at night, work during the hours of 9am-5pm, get home between the hours of 6pm and 7pm and begin their internet usage around said time. You will likely still see network congestion during these times, if its a neighborhood with a lot of kids in it you can expect to see even more congestion.
With the new cap in place you MAY see less congestion but only because people will become more conservative with what they spend their bandwidth allowance on. Which means they will likely cut out the big bandwidth expenses such as youtube, netflix, etc.

So sure, you MAY see your latency decrease, but at the cost of not being able to use the less congested network for what you want.

But, honestly I think a usage cap will do very little if nothing to limit the amount of network congestion during the times that it’s a problem, just as putting a mileage cap on driving will do very little to nothing on morning and evening traffic.

The only way to combat congestion is to upgrade those parts experiencing it, but as pointed out in this post. Congestion is not the problem…. competition is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Should Work Both Ways

This should work both ways: I should get a $10 refund for each 50 GB of data that I don’t use under 150 GB. After all, that 50 GB is just 50 GB that they’re then selling to someone else. Selling the same thing twice to two separate people should be illegal. In fact, I bet if I tried selling a car or a house that way I’d wind up in jail. But, then, I’m not a big corporation or rich, so I have to live by different rules.

Yan-Fa Li says:

Switched to

I’m lucky enough to have a different option in the SF Bay area. I already disconnect comcast and now get HD OTA. Thursday is taking over my DSL line, so I’ll only be getting basic local phone service from AT&T. I’ll be saving 120USD in the first year, and now the money will be going to a provider that will supply unbundled ADSL2+ at some point in the future.

Rekrul says:

I called The customer service number again today and lodged a formal complaint. At least this time the girl knew what I was talking about. She tried to tell me that that this was being done because too many people were complaining about slow service and that these caps would make the service better for everyone. I tried to explain how that was all a big lie, but she just kept saying that AT&T had done “extensive research” into the problem.

She did say that so far only the DSL caps are set to kick in, while a date for the U-Verse ones hasn’t been announced yet.

Maybe they’re getting enough complaints from angry subscribers to make them re-think this plan…

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Rekrul says:

I forgot to add that while I was on the phone with them the last time, I asked why, if only 2% of their subscribers were heavy users, they didn’t cap just those users. The rep actually said to me “We don’t know who they are.”

When I pointed out that if AT&T is going to be tracking people’s usage for knowing when to bill them extra, then they certainly DO know who the heavy users are.

At this point, she just retreated back into her script of “AT&T has done extensive research into this…”

Yeah, that’s convincing.

Anonymous Coward says:

AT&T throttling Hulu?

I tried to watch Hulu this weekend through my AT&T DSL connection, and discovered that it’s unwatchably choppy (but Netflix works fine, as does Hulu when I’m using VPN).

In any case, Crapcast is probably going to be cheaper for me than AT&T once this cap is put into effect, so it’s not unlikely I’ll be switching from AT&T in any case…

Ric says:

stop the throttle!!

As far as I am concerned there is a position here for a class action lawsuit. When I signed up for Bellsouth’s broadband, there were no limits on its usage. When AT&T bought them out, they accepted that contract AS IS and my service should NOT be limited in ANY WAY.
Someone needs to stand against the FCC on this issue, I do not have the political oomph to be able to do this alone.

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