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AT & T set to install usage caps, fees

Mon, 03/14/2011 - 8:25am
Brian Santo

AT&T is reported to be preparing to impose broadband usage caps on its subscribers. DSL customers will get a 150 gigabyte monthly allowance before incurring usage fees; U-verse subs will get a 250 GB cap.

While AT&T is set to impose bandwidth caps, British Telecom is set to remove them. BT has been charging subscribers for exceeding a monthly allowance of 300 GB a month. BT said it had invested in more bandwidth, and so could justify removal of its caps.

The simultaneous moves by BT and AT&T immediately open the question: is the imposition of bandwidth caps going to be an issue of bandwidth management, or will charging fees for additional usage be a strict revenue decision? In other words, will imposing fees be a temporary measure to discourage bandwidth consumption while bandwidth resources are scarce, or will they be permanent, even if bandwidth is added later and the justification for charging fees goes away?

AT&T confirmed that overage charges will be imposed only on customers who exceed their caps several times, according to the original story by Broadband Reports. Three-strikes and you're charged.

Other ISPs who have sought to charge for exceeding bandwidth caps in the past have tended to impose fees for overages measured in megabyte-level increments. In 2008, AT&T itself trialed charging $1 per gigabyte of overage. This time around, AT&T is loosening up a bit, charging $10 for each additional 50 gigabytes.

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