updated 08:40 pm EDT, Sun March 13, 2011
ATT capping DSL and U-verse May 2
AT&T after a leak on Sunday confirmed that it will join other Internet providers in capping its service. Beginning on May 2, regular DSL subscribers will have up to 150GB per month, while those on its U-verse VDSL connections will have the same 250GB as a Comcast user. BBR was told overage fees of $10 for each extra 50GB of data will be in effect, but will only kick in for those who run over the cap three times, albeit over the duration of the account and not per year.
"Importantly, we are not reducing the speeds, terminating service or limiting available data like some others in the industry," a spokesman stressed in allusions to Comcast's policy of hard cutoffs and Clearwire throttling.
Customers will get some potential help through typical usage trackers as well as ones that will help identify the most bandwidth-heavy apps. Notifications will also pop up at the 65 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent marks. These tools have occasionally proven problematic as they can at times under- or over-report usage in a way that can lead to unexpected charges.
Capped service has been increasingly common in some countries but has raised increasing controversy for its potential chilling effect. In Canada, attempts to force it on carriers sharing networks it have been met with government resistance both because it would prevent independents from offering better service than major but also for the damage it could do to new Internet services. Capped service discourages services like iTunes or Netflix, where videos can use up multiple gigabytes at a time.
Like most ISPs, AT&T has insisted that most of its users will never notice the caps and said the typical subscriber used 18GB per month, while only two percent would be affected. It didn't say whether it would increase the caps over time. Similarly, it didn't address the conflict of interest from its investment in services like OnLive, where the high-bandwidth game streaming would encourage users to run over their caps. Providers in Canada, such as Rogers, have so far imposed caps but lowered them over time or increased the cost of overages.