Home AT&T To Cap Its DSL Customers’ Broadband Usage

AT&T To Cap Its DSL Customers’ Broadband Usage

AT&T will begin capping its DSL customers’ monthly usage beginning May 2. According to Broadband Reports, which broke the story last night, the cap for DSL customers will be 150 GB per month and 250 GB per month for U-Verse customers.

AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom confirmed the story, saying that customers will soon receive notices informing them of the changes to the company’s terms of service. Bloom says that the new limits will involve overage charges, but these will only be billed to users who exceed their monthly caps more than three times. These overcharges are currently set at $10 for every 50 GB over the limit.

Customers will be notified as they get closer to reaching their monthly allowance, and AT&T says it will provide a number of tools so people can track their data consumption and identify what services are using data.

AT&T says that these caps are really just targeted at a small number of customers. According to the company, the average DSL customer uses around 18 GB a month, and so the new limits will only affect about 2% of its customers – those who AT&T says consume “a disproportionate amount of bandwidth.”

While there’s a marked difference between that average of 18 GB per month and the new cap of 150 GB, it’s worth pointing out that our data consumption is rapidly accelerating across the board. Today’s “average user” could quickly become tomorrow’s “data hog.” It seems likely that more and more people will inch their way towards that cap, particularly with video-streaming services like Netflix and video-game platforms like OnLive increasing in popularity and with cloud-based storage services like DropBox prompting us to upload our files for safe-keeping.

The move may be positioned as helping AT&T deliver “a great experience for all our Internet customers,” but it’s not clear that these actions are necessary to control congestion, and it raises questions about competition for broadband service as many areas still only have one DSL provider.

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