We’ve been celebrating “Net Loss Day” for the past 3 years and counting when on October 1st, 2008 Comcast set a bandwidth cap for customers at 250GB per month. As legitimate bandwidth usage has grown thanks to services like Netflix and OnLive, bandwidth caps become a worse and worse idea. DSLReports.com reports that May 2nd, AT&T will be following Comcast’s lead 150GB monthly usage caps for DSL customers and a 250 GB cap on U-Verse customers starting May 2nd.
During the rest of March, AT&T will be sending out notices to customers to notify them of the company’s changing terms of service. After a customer exceeds the bandwidth cap three times, they will have to pay overage charges of $10 for every 50GB over the new limits. AT&T plans to proactively inform customers when they exceed the 65%, 90%, and 100% thresholds on their account. AT&T “also says they’ll provide users with a number of different usage tools, including a usage monitor that tracks historical usage over time, and a number of different usage tools aimed at identifying bandwidth-hungry services.” I have fortunately switched from the Comcast giant but they promised bandwidth monitoring tools as well and from what I can tell, they are still yet to exist, meaning you can’t login to your account and see how much bandwidth you’ve used for the month.
Unfortunately, broadband access and infrastructure is already built in a monopolistic fashion, so you’re not likely to have much choice beyond sitting back and taking whatever other changes your ISP wants to wring out of you. What will these bandwidth caps look like in 3 years? Still at 250 GB or increased as the average user’s bandwidth use increases? Is it a statistics problem since they quote that the average DSL customer uses 18GB per month? Would we be reporting something different if the average user was consuming 200GB of bandwidth per month?
“The heavy user of today is inevitably the standard user of tomorrow.”