AT&T to cap data usage for DSL customers

By Dow Jones Newswires-Wall Street Journal
Posted March 14 at 5:51 a.m.

AT&T Inc. said it would begin to cap DSL data usage for its customers and begin to implement charges for anyone who goes over the limit.

The Dallas telecommunications giant said that customers who went over a limit of 150 gigabytes of data a month three times would be charged $10 for every extra 50 gigabytes of data they consume. Customers on its higher-end U-Verse Internet service have a limit of 250 gigabytes. AT&T will impose the new limit on May 2.

AT&T’s move represents an expansion of its policy to charge based on usage, following last year’s move to a tiered pricing structure for wireless data. The service providers have been juggling the explosion of demand for video, gaming and other bandwidth-intensive applications running across the networks with the cost to ensure there is sufficient equipment to smoothly handle the traffic. As in mobile, AT&T says the change in policy is to ensure the quality of the customer experience.

“We are committed to providing a great experience for all of our Internet customers,” said spokesman Mark Siegel. He added that some customers have been using a disproportionate amount of data, causing congestion in certain points of the network and interfering with other people’s access.

The move comes amid broader changes to how the industry sells data services and increased scrutiny over “unlimited” plans. Sprint Nextel Corp. Chief Executive Dan Hesse recently took to the airwaves in another commercial to break down the different kinds of limits that are placed on data plans, Verizon Wireless says it plans to introduce its own tiered plans in the summer.

AT&T said that it would alert customers multiple times if they are near or exceeding the limit, including proactive notifications when a customer hits 65 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent of their monthly allowance. Similar to its wireless service, the carrier would provide tools to allow customers to check on their usage.

The carrier said less than 2 percent of its 17.8 million broadband customers would be affected by the policy. The company plans to send notification of the change later this week. AT&T isn’t the only Internet service provider to try out caps. Cable companies Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. have already rolled out their own limited Internet plans. AT&T itself previously tested a number of capped landline Internet plans in select markets.

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  1. nmwillia March 14 at 5:09 pm

    A T & T have been installing my U-Verse internet service for the past 4 months. I requested self installed and the tech would never show up or call to install the broadband service. Only when A T & T requested to send a tech to find out what the problem was at a cost to me did I finall y said no. I’ll look into another service provider.

  2. joe1 March 14 at 6:21 pm

    Really simple. GREED. nothing else. Call your congress person.??? Haha. Yea sure. Thats the days they worked for you. Im sure a nice little “donation” from T has gone to many people to allow this. Awesome stats tribfan.. !!! When is the public gonna get it thru their collective thick skulls politicians dont work for you. they work for handouts from big corp like T !!

  3. bob March 14 at 7:56 pm

    Unlike an electric utility that needs additional equipment to vary pricing based on available capacity and demand, AT&T can do this immediately. For those who want to shift their usage to low-demand times, they should get a break.

    It’s not about customer service or overall value, it’s about maximizing revenue. Short sighted.

  4. I see 3 comments … where are the other 50 ?????


  5. Brian March 14 at 8:47 pm

    The real reason is your dsl sucks. At&t cable lags and it’s slow internet is horrible. My DSL is worthless from 9 to 1030 am. Comcast is pricey but you get what you pay for. AT&T just wants their garbage to work, don’t be fooled into thinking that a great provider would need to cap usage.

  6. Brian March 14 at 8:50 pm

    How about we cap how many dollars we pay for crappy service and a huge box jacking up my backyard.

  7. James Johnson March 14 at 10:27 pm

    at&t is evil. I do not trust at&t and now I am no longer considering going back to their DSL like I was until I read this report. at&t is what used to be known as SBC Communications. I think that SBC must have stood for Slippery Bunch of Crooks. I expect to have service without being throttled below subscription level or having to pay for what should be included in the deal.

  8. TKO March 14 at 11:40 pm

    I have always held that AT&T embodies the worst of customer service and scores the highest for customer contempt and add-on fees.

    Spent 1 hour on “customer support” site trying to review my account history for gB used by month. Can’t be found. If someone can help, let me know. Better yet, if all of you try and can’t find it….well, we’re on to something.

    Let me know, friends.

  9. Alz March 15 at 8:55 a.m.

    Sorry, trib1fan, the costs are going up BECAUSE of Net Neutrality. Just watch, over the next few years, costs will be going up and “all you can eat” plans will go by the wayside.

    Liberals like you will somehow not make the connection but think the companies are doing it on purpose. You’ll also lament the “lower quality” of the startups (that can’t compete as well with the big guys under Net Neutrality.)

    Net Neutraility will do the exact opposite of what you say. Just watch.

  10. Jen March 15 at 1:48 pm

    Is there any ISP now that does not limit bandwidth now? I mean, the entire reason I have AT&T DSL is because it wasn’t capped.

    I’m REALLY sick of companies doing this kind of thing and not telling their customers directly, and rather we find out from a news story.

    These companies are getting our of control, and people are passive about stuff like this and don’t seem to want to fight it.

    But really, what CAN we do? We are at the mercy of these corporations, and it sucks.

    Yeah, I think this is a pile of crap. I mean, with the increasing number of streaming service offerings, what are we supposed to do? Is this their answer to attempt to stop pirating?

    With all these online games, I’m surprised gamers haven’t had a say so far.

    Think about all these websites these days, with all the video playing, images, Java, Flash, and not to mention banner ads! Why should I be penalized for the method in which websites are written?

    I’m seriously sick and tired of companies doing things like this, not informing their customers, and people being passive about it, and not fighting this kind of thing.

    I mean, who really know how much bandwidth they use a month. I know I don’t.

  11. e March 15 at 3:55 pm

    and how will a person be able to track their data usage? What kind of meter will be available for a person to check? will they be notified when they are close?… and since this limitation is not in the contract, does this mean people would be allowed to drop service without having to pay a penalty?

  12. Jeff March 16 at 12:23 a.m.

    What this also means is that AT /T has defaulted on your contract and now should have to allow you to cancel without a penalty.If not, sue them. You had a contract that stated unlimited internet and now They
    (AT/T) are defaulting on it . I smell potential HUGE class action lawsuit.

  13. reno419rockstar March 16 at 3:16 pm

    5GB a day for a household? by @reno419rockstar (twitter)
    1. Don’t let the numbers fool you. They conducted this test in 2 U.S. cities for a year. When and where they did this, they won’t say. Could be a small town in Idaho.
    2. So, I have a Netflix subscription that I use on my Xbox Live subscription, PS3 and iPhone subscription. I got rid of cable to stream TV shows online. I also have Hulu Plus. One 42 minute TV Show is 350 MB.
    3. A household has usually more than 1 person. ATT takes away unlimited data plan on cell phones (I’m grandfathered in on 2 iphones of 3 lines). When I’m at home, I use WiFi. Voip apps to save daytime minutes on conference/business calls(6am-9pm). Another person is downloading apps (when you download apps over 20 Mb, you have to be on WiFi). Watching YouTube & NetFlix. This is just everyday phone usage.
    4. Then comes the online gaming. My family are big online gamers. Everything from Rock Band to Call of Duty. Then downloading trailers & game demos/add-ons. Purchasing games. Streaming trailers & tips. This is regular usage.
    5. I really need to find out how much am I using a month now. If I’m over, I will leave them just to avoid overages.
    Just some points I wanted to make. My jailbroken iPhone gives me some extra options. Either way, I’ll still be doing what my daily routine, just someone else besides ATT will be getting my money for home internet.

  14. Norman Viray March 17 at 3:38 a.m.

    This is a great policy AT&T! However, the 150GB monthly limit for regular family customers, especially business customers, is too little. How about nonprofit and for profit companies who use a lot of video and audio be maxed to 500GB while any family be maxed to 225GB? Any families and businesses who don’t use the entire 225GB and 500GB respectively be allowed to rollover the remaining GB to the succeeding months, like with AT&T’s wireless phone plans. Please advise.

  15. bld522 March 18 at 2:32 pm

    AT&T Data Usage Meter:

    Log in with your email account log in. Not your web account log in. Email account is what the DSL Moden uses to access ATT’s Network.

  16. Chris March 18 at 4:33 pm

    The only thing we can do is every one would have to ban together and either threaten to canx or just simply canx their DSL service, if enough people canx they will change this but it will take enough people maybe use FaceBook or some other service to communicate and agree on a day that every DSL customer will call and threaten to canx … if they are starting this on May 4th I say we all call on that day .. the only way we are going to ever change any thing is unite as one why do you think the unions have been so successful in the past there are power in numbers … so you may have to go with out internet for a few day until they get the picture but a few days is alot better than worrying about overages …… and thank you bld522 for posting that link and what user name to use…..

  17. William March 27 at 2:39 a.m.

    AT&T is the worst ******* company ever. Money hungry ppl. Come on ppl use you head. A house whole will go over 150 in a matter of days esp. If you have family that use internet everyday at home. Such as gamers,downloaders, and online movie watcher, AT&T are ******* ppl out of there money and as may 2, 2011 I will no long be a customer of there’s. They should be a shame of themselves. They are only doing this to cash in on the new feature that has been add to tv. Such as netfilx/vudu. AT&T is a ******* money hungry company and if you know like I know I will leave and search for another provided that provided u with unlimited services.