According to Engadget.com, AT&T will implement a 150GB monthly cap on DSL customers and a 250GB cap on subscribers to U-Verse high speed Internet access starting on May 2, 201. AT&T will charge overage fees of $10 for every additional 50GB of data, with two grace periods to start out — in other words, the third time you go over the cap, that’s when you’ll get charged.
AT&T explains it will only impact two percent of consumers who use “a disproportionate amount of bandwidth,” and poses the caps as an alternative to throttling transfer speeds or disconnecting excessive users from the service completely. Customers will be able to check their usage with an online tool, and get notifications when they reach 65 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent of their monthly rates.
Here’s the AT&T statement attempting to justify the data caps and overage charges:
“We are committed to providing a great experience for all of our Internet customers. Less than 2 percent of our Internet customers could be impacted by this approach – those who are using a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. 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 top 2 percent of residential subscribers uses about 20 percent of the bandwidth on our network. Just one of these high-traffic users can utilize the same amount of data capacity as 19 typical households. Lopsided usage patterns can cause congestion at certain points in the network, which can slow Internet speeds and interfere with other customers’ access to and use of the network. Our new plan addresses another concern: customers strongly believe that only those who use the most bandwidth should pay more than those who don’t use as much. That’s exactly what this does – and again, 98% of our customers will not be impacted by this.”
Opinion: I expected data caps to happen late last year, with all the video streaming, uploads and downloads. Apparently, most of the streaming is from people streaming Netflix videos to their converter boxes- TVs.
Note, that ATT’s U-verse and ADSL-based Internet access are completely different transport architectures:
- U-verse is all IP over Ethernet (frame format) with fiber to the cabinet/node and VDSL2 to the subscriber- shorter copper loop than conventional DSL Internet access.
- ADSL Internet is IP over PPP over ATM AAL5 over ADSL (or ADSL2+) from the CO or Digital Loop Carrier to the subscriber (much longer copper loop).
Here’s an article comparing triple play delivery networks, highlighting AT&T U Verse (based on an IEEE ComSoc SCV officer tour of AT&Ts U Verse Labs in San Ramon, CA last summer). Readers may find it informative if not enlightening:
As far as we know, Comcast is NOT capping its high speed Internet traffic- either for residential or business customers. And they offer higher speeds than AT&T U-Verse or DSL Internet.
Note: The author has had AT&T (SBC, Pac Bell) DSL based Internet access since 2001, which was only upgraded to 2.5 M bit/sec a few years ago. It is much slower than DSL access in other countries, let alone what Comcast and other MSOs are offering for the same service.