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AT&T To Introduce Broadband Caps 538

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-me-have-some-of-that-back dept.
rekenner writes "In the upcoming weeks, AT&T customers are going to start receiving notices that their broadband services are going to have a monthly cap, starting in May. DSL users will have a cap of 150 GB per month, while U-Verse users will have a more 'generous' cap of 250 GB per month. However, unlike other caps, it won't be until your third month of overage, on the life of the account, that you'll be charged an overage. Thanks, I guess."
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AT&T To Introduce Broadband Caps

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  • by KillaBeave (1037250) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:04AM (#35479512)
    What's the average Netflix data rate? That couldn't have anything to do with this now could it ...
    • by XiaoMing (1574363) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:14AM (#35479658)

      On the bright side, since so many companies (Netflix, Google, youtube, any "cloud computing" company with large data usage etc.) have built their business model around the assumption of easily available and cheap bandwidth, we might start seeing companies (i.e. entities with real money and legal power) suing each other to keep internet neutrality, rather than ordinary citizens trying to push it through representatives that still think it's got something to do with their household plumbing. Or if not, at least it'll give up-and-coming broadband providers a better business justification to invest in their own infrastructure.

      Fingers crossed that we're a step closer to opening up the relative crap-opoly that is ATT/Comcast in so many regions of this country.

      • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:34AM (#35479988) Homepage

        A cap is network neutrality.
        Because they can't say "You can only use Netflix if you pay us a fee", they'll instead put a blanket cap on usage.

        And that's exactly as it should be.

        • by eobanb (823187) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:45AM (#35480156) Homepage
          AT&T U-Verse traffic is not included in the cap. Since video is by far one of the most bandwidth-intensive type of data online, essentially this is a cap on all services competing with U-Verse: iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, MLB.tv, you name it. Get real. This is in no way, shape, or form, network neutrality.
          • by name_already_taken (540581) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:59AM (#35480340)

            AT&T U-Verse traffic is not included in the cap.

            AT&T not counting their U-Verse video traffic is effectively the same as Comcast not counting their video bandwidth too. It doesn't matter if the service provider delivers their own video content via IP multicast (U-Verse), RF (Comcast) or discs strapped to trained pigeons.

            Any download cap by any ISP who also provides video service is anti-competitive.

          • by jeffmeden (135043) on Monday March 14, 2011 @12:28PM (#35480770) Homepage Journal

            But Uverse video is NOT delivered the same way as Netflix, iTunes, and the rest... It's not competition; Uverse programming is "broadcast" in a very traditional sense, you watch what's on the stream coming down the pipe and while you have control over *your* stream you have little/no control over all the streams of content coming from the very center. They distribute a LOT of hardware and connectivity to make that all possible, and while I am not trying to defend them or over-hype their service, it is really fundamentally *not* just another source of IP information.

            Netflix, hulu, and the rest need to realize that IP unicast from a central hub for TV programming is fundamentally flawed, and start aggressively peering with service providers like AT&T to get a content source *inside* the network where it won't be capped (and where, conveniently enough, its VERY VERY efficient since it saves gateway bandwidth for unique data services that actually NEED it.)

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by johnny boy (129702)

              You're arguing semantics. You apparently haven't been seeing the commercials about getting movies /before/ Netflix through U-Verse. U-Verse competes with Internet video services. They provide a mix of free samples and paid downloads on demand.

              It doesn't matter if they deliver it by carrier pigeon, fleet of station wagons or multicast over twisted pairs of copper. They are providing the same demand based service in addition to their broadcast streams.

              Not that it matters, but they also push a DVR service

            • by Zenin (266666) on Monday March 14, 2011 @02:06PM (#35482204) Homepage

              A) None of the major IP video services use a single hub. They all run through massive proxy systems like Akamai. Content already lives very close to its end point.

              C) AT&T isn't much more "inside" their own network then the likes of Netflix and Hulu already are via Akamai and such.

              B) You can't get "inside" AT&T's network in the way you're talking about, at least not without paying extremely huge fees to AT&T that'd verge on a protection racket. And again, the difference isn't technically much different then what the major video streaming companies are doing today via Akamai. There is no big win there; The REAL issue is the last mile, which is exactly the same for AT&T as it is for Netflix et al.

              AT&T isn't doing this to encourage competition to move to more efficient methods, nor are they doing it to address their own peering costs (already bought and paid for). It's an overt move to use their position as bandwidth provider to promote their content business...by disenfranchising the competition.

          • It's not entirely surprising that they would treat internal network traffic differently. U-Verse traffic travels on AT&T's internal network. Anything going to or coming from the internet at large needs to go through their pipes to the outside world.

            Incidentally, I was recently at a presentation by Shaw Cable in Canada, and apparently streaming data (netflix, youtube, etc.) is currently only 15% of their network traffic, with 45% being peer to peer (all sorts, including vpn, skype, etc.) and 36% being

      • What's this got to do with Net Neutrality? It's throttling back traffic and charging for overage - it's a Business Model - not entirely unlike how they charge for Long Distance.

        • by TheEyes (1686556) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:51AM (#35480226)

          What's this got to do with Net Neutrality? It's throttling back traffic and charging for overage - it's a Business Model - not entirely unlike how they charge for Long Distance.

          It's Net Neutrality because they are not throttling or capping their own competing services, while they are capping Netflix. AT&T has just announced that they, like Comcast, are the gatekeepers of the Internet, and have free reign to control how much you say, who you say it to, and where your information comes from.

        • by compro01 (777531)

          It's throttling back and charging for some traffic. AT&T's own uverse video on demand service is not subject to this cap and you can bet they will extend that same benefit to any partners who pay them money.

      • by arivanov (12034)

        No they will not.

        They will simply peer closer to the edge and agree with the ISP that their traffic does not count towards any quotas. They already do it in places.

        The ISPs will similarly move their service closer to the edge. A secondary effect will be that "magic box" traffic solutions that require all traffic to be dragged across them will become less and less popular. Ditto for any all-encompassing traffic management superframeworks native to specific network technologies.

        IMO that is actually quite good

        • by gad_zuki! (70830)

          Yet U-verse is last mile technology (VDSL). I doubt AT&T will suddenly allow me to break the cap because the data center I'm downloading from is only 30 miles from my house.

          AT&T has no incentive to do this. In fact they have a huge disincentive to do this. They offer their own unmetered VDSL-based IPTV. Why should they let their own product compete with an even footing with Netflix and the rest?

          This isn't just technical, this is very much a business decision to help fight competitors like Netflix.

      • by SirGarlon (845873)
        It is more likely that you'll start seeing companies start making backroom deals to get preferential access to end users. Which is what the last-mile providers have wanted all along.
    • by TyIzaeL (1203354) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:17AM (#35479704)
      I'm sure it's no coincidence that AT&T's own U-Verse TV service is unmetered.
      • by ajlitt (19055)

        U-Verse has always throttled the non-iptv portion of the connection to allow priority for video and charge extra for faster "internet" plans. My gateway is showing 35Mb/s down speeds but Speedtest bottoms out at about 1.41Mb/s since I'm paying for the 1.5Mb package.

        The cap is roughly 1/10 of the maximum I can pull down by saturating the connection 24/7. While I don't plan on doing that, I do plan on not doing business with them in the future when the opportunity presents itself (Grande Communications, I'm

      • U-Verse TV is paid for per month per box anyway. I don't know of any provider that meters TV service; do you?

        Since most U-Verse subscribers are only using a small fraction of their U-Verse DSL line's speed (mine shows a 36Mbps line speed, but I only pay for 3Mbps Internet service), I'm not sure why we would expect the TV service to be metered. It's not like Comcast bills their users for how much of the cable RF bandwidth the video signals are using.

        U-Verse TV service is however limited - no matter how man

    • 1.8 GB per movie (Score:5, Informative)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:17AM (#35479716) Homepage Journal

      What's the average Netflix data rate?

      On Xbox 360, 1.8 GB per movie (source [streamingmedia.com]).

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I rewatched 41 episodes of BSG this week in Netflix 'HD' (lol) and my total usage for 14 days is 65664MB.

    • If the bandwidth issue involves an unbalanced paring agreement utilization, why doesn't Netflix and AT&T agree on a deal that would allow for a local media proxy server? Seems that, right there, would solve a lot bandwidth problems.

    • by Chas (5144)

      Correct. This is an end-run around net neutrality and an attempt to wring more money out of their networks. If they can't hold content PROVIDERS hostage for the fees, they'll hold their subscribers up for it.

  • And once again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:04AM (#35479524)

    the consumer gets screwed.

    "Caps" are the worst way of doing business, designed to cover the fact that they engaged in blatant false advertising.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      150? 250? You guys are getting off easy. They just added a cap up in Canada for Bell DSL at 20gb a month. Then expect you to pay like30-50 bucks for it.

      • by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:14AM (#35479656)

        It's not the magnitude of the cap. It's that bandwidth - which is a momentary capacity, not a "month cycle" capacity - is being charged that way.

        This ain't electricity or water, where there is a certain central pool quantity to draw from. It's on or off.

        Add to this the fact that NONE of these dishonest fuckers in these companies give you a good way to track "usage", and it gets worse.

        Add in the fact that they are all doing this not to "manage slowdowns" but instead to try to push people back into buying "on demand TV" and "premium cable TV packages with rental DVR" and it's clear: this is not what they say it is. This is pure greed on their part.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Add in the fact that they are all doing this not to "manage slowdowns" but instead to try to push people back into buying "on demand TV" and "premium cable TV packages with rental DVR"

          So then how, as a YouTube user, do I get original videos that my team has produced and uploaded into "on demand TV" and "premium cable TV packages with rental DVR"?

          • by pla (258480) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:52AM (#35480242) Journal
            So then how, as a YouTube user, do I get original videos that my team has produced and uploaded into "on demand TV" and "premium cable TV packages with rental DVR"?

            Silly consumer - You don't.

            We all need to learn to ignore that whole YouTube fad thing and come to terms with the fact that only big Hollywood money can make "real" content. Just sit back, relax, have a can of government-permitted intoxicant, and watch whatever your push-content provider has decided to make available to you.
        • Re:And once again... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mlingojones (919531) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:39AM (#35480046) Homepage

          It's not the magnitude of the cap. It's that bandwidth - which is a momentary capacity, not a "month cycle" capacity - is being charged that way. This ain't electricity or water, where there is a certain central pool quantity to draw from. It's on or off.

          What would the solution to this be? A variable cap that changes based on how busy the network is?

          Add to this the fact that NONE of these dishonest fuckers in these companies give you a good way to track "usage", and it gets worse.

          FTFA:

          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.

          So they're absolutely providing a way to check usage. The jury's out on whether or not it's a "good" way, but seeing as you haven't used it you are in no way capable of making that judgement.

          Add in the fact that they are all doing this not to "manage slowdowns" but instead to try to push people back into buying "on demand TV" and "premium cable TV packages with rental DVR" and it's clear: this is not what they say it is. This is pure greed on their part.

          Now you're just making things up. It doesn't mention that anywhere in the article.

          There is a finite amount of bandwidth. The options that have been presented to solve this problem are traffic shaping and capping, so please either throw your towel in with one of those or propose another idea.

          • Re:And once again... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dnahelicase (1594971) on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:04PM (#35481288)

            Add in the fact that they are all doing this not to "manage slowdowns" but instead to try to push people back into buying "on demand TV" and "premium cable TV packages with rental DVR" and it's clear: this is not what they say it is. This is pure greed on their part.

            Now you're just making things up. It doesn't mention that anywhere in the article.

            There is a finite amount of bandwidth. The options that have been presented to solve this problem are traffic shaping and capping, so please either throw your towel in with one of those or propose another idea.

            Oooh ooh! Pick Me! I know!

            Another option would be to have more options!

            Since ATT is only able to provide service because they have used publicly owned throughways and have been given permission to sell me service, we could allow more people to provide service!

            We could allow co-ops and startups to lease/buy/build lines and improve our networks!

            Heck, we could even use that bandwidth that they took from TV providers (remember that?) and use it for broadband wireless with open networks like they said was going to happen!

            It seems there are a lot of options besides bandwidth capping, traffic shaping, and anti-competitive practices. We just don't use them.

            As a sidenote, HR 607 would take the D-Block of frequencies and instead give them to emergency response/public safety people. Sounds good right? Well, they don't need it, and it keeps it away from what it was taken for (which helps these same ISPs) and proposes to take away the 70cm band from Ham radio operators - which would really impair public safety in the event of a true emergency.

          • What would the solution to this be? A variable cap that changes based on how busy the network is?

            How about telecoms actually build out their infrastructure so that it's not a problem? Boo-hoo that they have to spend money to upgrade the infrastructure to meet demand instead of giving their CEOs huge bonuses.

        • That's what you'd get with 512 kb/s.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How exactly is it false advertising to tell users exactly how much bandwidth they can use and then allow them to use that amount of bandwidth? It was false advertising when the advertising said unlimited when it really wasn't. Now they're calling it limited and giving you what they say they will. Just because you want something different doesn't make what they're doing wrong.

      • Sorry, buddy. They STILL advertise it as unlimited. You just found out due to a press release, where others will find out via reading the fine print of their ToS. They have and will do everything they can to keep this information from its customers, but still follow the law (or maybe not).
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Sorry buddy, but you're full of shit. AT&T actually removed the word "unlimited" from their broadband advertising months ago. Remains to be seen whether these new caps will be explicitly referenced in new advertising (I highly doubt they will be) but honestly I see no problem with doing so. You're not required to include every detail of your service in an advertisement, you just can't include false details. If a consumer makes bad assumptions and doesn't bother to learn what they're actually signing

        • Maybe they STILL advertise it as unlimited because they STILL haven't rolled out the caps.

          In the upcoming weeks, AT&T customers are going to start receiving notices that their broadband services are going to have a monthly cap, starting in May.

          Sorry, buddy.

      • Re:And once again... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Shompol (1690084) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:45AM (#35480152)
        Let's say the advertised speed is 15 Mbps = 15 megabits per second.

        150,000,000,000 GB * 8 (bits/Byte) / 15,000,000 (bits/s) / 60 (sec/min) / 60 (min/hour) / 30 (days/month)= 0.74 hours a day

        Thus, you can only use the advertised speed for no more than 45 minutes a day, given you do not use the internet at all during the remaining 23.26 hours.

    • How is this bad for the consumer? It seems to me that this is better than the old business model of "promise consumers unlimited broadband service, and then shape traffic when we need to manage the network because we can't actually provide it." That's the whole reason traffic shaping is bad: ISPs are messing around with my traffic in order to improve performance for other customers, when according to their plans and advertising they should have the capacity for me to do whatever I want without needing to de
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      I have to agree. I signed up for "Unlimited" internet. The only cap should be MAX bandwidthX24x7 use.
      It doesn't matter both parties are so in far in the back pockets of the telecoms and "Entertainment" that we will be screwed.

  • 90/150 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by april21wed (1794560) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:09AM (#35479576)
    I noticed yesterday that I had been downloading about 3 GiB yesterday. I was mostly just listening to last.fm through rhythmbox. So if I used that much every day (on average), I would use about 30*3=90 GiB a month. That's a tad too close to the cap, I think.
  • I wonder.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by craftycoder (1851452) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:10AM (#35479594)

    Why did AT&T bother to put fiber all over town for it's customers' if they don't want us to use the bandwidth? They are Ma Bell, do they really have a shortage of bandwidth?

    • No, but notice that the cap for their integrated U-verse service is significantly higher. I'm sure that wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that they're trying to push their integrated TV/Phone/Internet service as much as possible.

      • Re:I wonder.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TyIzaeL (1203354) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:27AM (#35479890)
        According to TFA, U-Verse TV will not count towards the bandwidth cap. This strikes me as a wee bit anti-competitive.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by chill (34294)

          Not really. All they have to do is say the cap applies to data sources external to the AT&T network, since they have to pay transit costs.

          All AT&T sourced data -- servers directly on their network, such as their IPTV servers -- don't apply to the cap since it is all internal.

          • by IICV (652597)

            All AT&T sourced data -- servers directly on their network, such as their IPTV servers -- don't apply to the cap since it is all internal.

            So if I set my torrent client to prefer IP addresses in AT&T's network, do those transfers not count towards the cap? Or what about downloading from in-network servers that aren't owned by AT&T, like AT&T business clients?

            Because if this limit doesn't apply to any in-network usage, then it's a bit iffy but reasonable. If it specifically applies to U-Verse

        • To some extent, I don't care about IPTV. It's just the same old inconvenient TV delivered via a different mechanism. I also don't care about a landline, especially not one that's essentially VOIP masquerading as traditional POTS. But I might be interested in upping my bandwidth cap by 100 GB. And I'm sure that ATT execs made the same calculation.

    • They do want to use the bandwidth.

      They just plan to make sure that it gets used for their services. They plan to expand their customer base and kill the competition. Things like negotiating exclusivity deals with apartment complexes, throttling connections for Netflix and Google. But don't expect to get any additional bandwidth out of them without paying through the nose for it.

    • They did it because they didn't have to pay for it.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      They are Ma Bell

      Actually, they aren't Ma Bell. Ma Bell had plenty of faults, but was heavily regulated and thus prevented from pulling stunts like this without at least getting government approval.

      These clowns are actually Southern Bell Company, one of the many Baby Bells spawned when AT&T was broken up. They gained an advantage over other Baby Bells using thoroughly sleazy business practices, bought them up with the full support of a deregulation-happy federal government (this was bipartisan: both the Clinton and Bush

  • Other ISPs have talked about doing this often... I hope this is not the beginning of the whole industry making this shift.
    • Depends on how many can and do vote with their feet. If a lot of AT&T people leave, AT&T might rethink the policy. Likewise if a cable ISP or whoever else is getting a lot of people from AT&T because of the cap, they might think long and hard before putting in such a cap themselves, potentially losing all the new customers who have already demonstrated that they will move when caps are put in place.

      Ultimately it depends on whether ISPs have been telling the truth about how users with the highe
      • Re:Slippery Slope? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pla (258480) on Monday March 14, 2011 @12:15PM (#35480552) Journal
        Depends on how many can and do vote with their feet. If a lot of AT&T people leave, AT&T might rethink the policy. Likewise if a cable ISP or whoever else is getting a lot of people from AT&T because of the cap, they might think long and hard before putting in such a cap themselves.

        If - And I mean that as a really big "if" - You have the great fortune of having more than a single broadband ISP in your area, you might choose to switch between them when one misbehaves. When both demonstrate the same contempt for their customers, what then? Go back to dialup, crippling yourself just to teach 'em a lesson?

        Market pressure only works when you actually have something resembling an open marketplace. When only two long-entrenched players offer what you need, they just take turns seeing who can screw you harder.
  • allowed rate (Score:5, Informative)

    by sneilan (1416093) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:12AM (#35479642) Homepage
    (150 gigabytes) / (31 days) = 58.7240143 kBps
    (250 gigabytes) / (31 days) = 97.8733572 kBps
    That's some bs.
  • by mikael_j (106439) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:15AM (#35479688)

    I just don't understand why americans tolerate ISPs enforcing ridiculous caps. From a swedish perspective it seems kind of backwards, I don't really know of any ISPs here that have caps and it really seems like a concept take from the early days of consumer broadband (mid-to-late 90s there were a few swedish ISPs that tried the whole thing with caps but they were pretty much forced into obscurity since most ISPs didn't cap).

    • by ledow (319597)

      Er... I was actually thinking that was an incredibly generous cap.

      In the UK, 30Gb/month is pretty standard, and much less is available on the cheaper packages (http://www.plus.net/ - owned by the former-government-department British Telecom).

      • by luder (923306) *

        Er... I was actually thinking that was an incredibly generous cap.

        Me too. Here in Portugal I have 60GB / month for 20eur (24Mbs) and it used to be much lower...

    • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:25AM (#35479840)

      I just don't understand why americans tolerate ISPs enforcing ridiculous caps. From a swedish perspective it seems kind of backwards, I don't really know of any ISPs here that have caps and it really seems like a concept take from the early days of consumer broadband (mid-to-late 90s there were a few swedish ISPs that tried the whole thing with caps but they were pretty much forced into obscurity since most ISPs didn't cap).

      Even major cities in American typically have only 2-3 available internet service providers, and they tend to implement very similar metering policies at roughly the same time, so there's no easy alternative.

    • I just don't understand why americans tolerate ISPs enforcing ridiculous caps.

      Because most of them don't have the financial capital to start their own ISP to compete with the ones enforcing ridiculous caps. Heck, many areas are lucky to have 5 GB/mo because the alternative to satellite and WiMAX is dial-up.

    • We tolerate this mostly because of the magical "I" word, infrastructure. It was only recently that mobile providers were told to open up their towers to other carriers, allowing local service providers like MetroPCS and whatnot to participate in what used to be dominated by ATT, Verizon and T-mobile. A big push for that came thanks to Google'lobbying, and right now the people that own the phone and cable lines are still making that exact same argument as was made for the cellphone towers, and they're winn

    • by Hatta (162192)

      We tolerate it because we have no choice. The individual is essentially powerless in the US.

      • by thebra (707939)

        We tolerate it because we have no choice. The individual is essentially powerless in the US.

        You are not powerless. You can choose not to give your money to ATT or any company you are unhappy with. I guarantee that you will not die if you give up internet access because you are unhappy with the services available to you. The power really is in the consumer's hands, we just choose to be lazy and accept what we are given. It is easier to just give them what they want then give up a luxury.

        • by dAzED1 (33635)
          ooooohhhh....we are not powerless, because we can give up connecting to the internet all together. That makes sense.

          The point is that if we want (or need) internet access, we are powerless to dictate the terms of what we get. Most of us have only 1 last-mile option, for instance.

    • by The Moof (859402)

      I just don't understand why americans tolerate ISPs enforcing ridiculous caps.

      We don't. We just don't have a choice. My only 2 options, in the Chicago suburbs, are either Comcast or AT&T. I went with AT&T because they don't have caps... well, used to not have caps. The irritating thing is Comcast recently implemented bandwidth throttling for streaming video services in my area, so AT&T is still the better of the two (for the time being).

  • Lucky Me! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mooga (789849) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:16AM (#35479700)
    I recently switched to Comcast Business Class to avoid the bandwidth caps since my family and I use Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services quite often. I actually almost switched to U-Verse because they offered a better cable deal and unlimited bandwidth... Guess not any more!
    • I recently switched to Comcast Business Class to avoid the bandwidth caps

      I've read stories about someone trying to get Comcast Business Class Internet in a home office, but Comcast initially refused to set up a Business Class account because the customer also had residential cable television at the same address. Comcast requires separate accounts for residential and business services, and it appears a lot of front-line call center representatives don't know how to set up two accounts. And if you have Business Class Internet, you also lose the approx. $15/mo discount on cable TV

  • Just as I'm dumping them. They keep raising their rates, while making their service suck more and more. Great business plan AT&T!
  • Interesting way things are going. Internet companies are slowly forcing us to host everything we "own" in the "cloud", while ISP's are slowly enforcing usage caps. At some point we won't have enough bandwidth to bandwidth to access anything.
  • by ThomasBHardy (827616) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:25AM (#35479848)
    Here's the thing, ATT will be capping the bandwidth of "Internet" usage. This is separate from the usage of the streaming HDTV signal that ATT provides to U-verse customers. One could run the TV streaming 24x7 and record 4 shows at once and run many times the bandwidth cap and there's no cap or additional fees. The issue lies in what you do with your computers. They are basically coming out and admitting that it's not a bandwidth issue, it's a services issues. ATT wants to own parts of what you do such as cloud gaming services and video streaming services. When you use their services they can be exempted from the caps, thus crushing competition like Netflix or Hulu. This isn't about bandwidth or caps or infrastructure, It's about greed and it's about net neutrality. Does anyone find it coincidental that this comes the week after the FCC net neutrality rules got struck down?
  • ... and for everything happening server side, forcing you to consume bandwidth for things that used to be handled on your computer directly.
  • I have a 3 mbs DSL line with AT&T. Doing the math tells me I could download a max of 32.4 gigs a day

    (3000 Bits Per Second / 8 (to get Bytes per second)) * 3600 (seconds in an hour) * 24 (hours in a day) = 32,400,000

    I could theoretically reach my limit in 5 days. That would be just a little over a terabyte a month if I downloaded 24x7 every day @ 3 mbs. I don't use the 150 gigs now, but ask me again in a year or two since my usage is steadily going up year after year.
  • My 90-year-old grandmother uses more bandwidth than that, videoconferencing with the kids. It took ten hours calling the incompetents at AT&T's 888 number -- most of waiting on hold, half the calls, eventually dropped-- to get the DSL line in.

    What happened to the era when there were local offices and someone responsible?

  • It's a good first step toward metered service.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:33AM (#35479974)
    Usage caps do absolutely nothing to limit the amount of data your customers use. ISPs problems arise when a large portion of their customers use their cap at the same time... usually around 6-8pm. The rest of the day the ISP is idle for the most part. The people hitting caps like this are doing so because they are using their connection 24hrs/day. ALL ISPs in the US throttle peer to peer traffic, even if they don't admit it. So these people are already slowed way down during this peak period. So why are they doing it? New fees, plain and simple. It's the equivalent of credit card overages.
  • by time$lice (901396) on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:35AM (#35479994)
    It simply makes no sense imposing data caps these days. Think about how much more data you use than you did just a few years ago - Streaming services (Netflix, Hulu), digital distribution (Steam, D2D, Amazon), general content, etc.

    Time Warner tried this in Austin a couple years ago and it backfired on them. They lost a load of customers. I actually switched to U-verse because of it. They ended scrapping the whole idea. This is their chance to shine and announce: "no data limits" "we miss you come back and enjoy all the Internet" As far as the whole "98% of users won't be impacted by this change" BS... I'm going to call BS on that and go a little further. Even if people don't hit the cap, they like having the unlimited option available. Example: If my hard drive crashes, I have over 300GB of games to download from steam. And that's only the ones I'm currently playing!

    Call them and complain (be firm but be nice). I called and got disconnected the first round after a 5 minute hold. The second time when the automated system asked why I was calling I said "I'm pissed off!" I was immediately connected to a rep! The rep said he didn't know anything about it. His supervisor said the same thing.

    And if they still go through with this crap - switch. Vote with your wallet folks!
  • Why don't they just charge more? If the network is starting to reach its limits, then why not charge more for a top tier package, take the extra money raised and invest it into making their network better?

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      they did not invest their money in their network to begin with. Their network was built with US Taxpayer Subsidies.
  • Clarification is nice, especially in this case -- I had assumed around 30 GB/month was a reasonable amount. Now AT&T is telling me 150 GB is reasonable -- 5x more!

    Furthermore, their overage rate $0.20/GB (in 50 GB chunks) is quite reasonable.

    Some people will whine these are starting rates, and AT&T can change them. Certainly, but then they have to deal with their own precedents set internally. Somebody looks really bad if they have to raise alot, and they will fight.

  • If I remember correctly, in certain areas Comcast tried to implement bandwidth caps and the feds stepped in and stopped it because they couldn't prove that it cost them more money to maintain their network when everything was unlimited vs capped.

  • How much is 150 GB? How many hours of youtube or typical game playing will it take to use that up? How many windows updates will it take? If they want to limit traffic, they should provide some tools to help customers gain more control over their data usage. For example, lots of advertisers make heavy use of video on popular websites. I don't want stuff like that eating into my monthly cap, and I would like some tool or option to block that type of traffic.

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