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Summary:

Following in the footsteps of Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications and several U.K internet service providers, AT&T appears close to unveiling a tiered broadband service in Reno Nevada, sometime in November. According to a Friday filing with the Federal Communication Commission, AT&T executives met with the legal adviser to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to discuss “usage based pricing” as a form of network management.

Following in the footsteps of Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications and several UK Internet service providers, AT&T unveiled a tiered broadband service in Reno, Nev., on Nov. 1. According to a Friday filing with the Federal Communication Commission, AT&T executives met with the legal adviser to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to discuss “usage-based pricing” as a form of network management. AT&T has hinted that this was coming for the last few months. From the filing:

In particular, AT&T plans to initiate a broadband Internet access usage trial in Reno, Nev., beginning in November. Consistent with AT&T’s belief that consumers should have clear information about the capabilities of their broadband Internet access services and any meaningful limitations on those service,  AT&T will be providing written notice to customers involved in the trial explaining that their broadband service will be subject to a certain monthly usage tier for the total amount of data they may send and receive, as well as a per gigabyte charge in the event they exceed the usage tier.

AT&T says it will have tiers ranging from 20 GB per month to 150 GB per month with a $1 per-gigabyte overage fee for new customers. Later this year, existing AT&T High-Speed Internet customers in Reno will become a part of this trial if their monthly usage exceeds 150 GB in one month. These customers will receive a usage amount of 150 GB per month.

Time Warner’s caps start at 5 GB per month and stop at 40 GB per month. Frontier’s also start at 5 GB per month, and last week Frontier’s CEO said the company would also offer larger tiers. The filing states that AT&T will also offer customers a meter to show them how much bandwidth they have consumed, which is more than Comcast (with its 250 GB cap) or even Time Warner have offered.  AT&T also plans to notify customers when they reach the 80 percent threshold of their tiered plan. Only after the second instance of breaking through the set cap, will customers be charged on a per-gigabyte basis.

This plan sounds much more generous than those of Time Warner (which is the primary competitor to AT&T in my neck of the woods), but we’re still against limiting broadband use. Especially when faced with the stark statement at the end of the filing, “Finally, in the event a new or existing customer does not want to participate in the trial, we will permit the customer to cancel their broadband Internet access service without an early termination penalty.” Wow, looks like it’s tiered broadband or no broadband.

Want to catch up on metered broadband? Check out these links:

10 Things to Know and Hate About Metered Broadband

Time Warner Talks Last Mile & Bandwidth Caps

Why Metered Broadband Is Bad for Microsoft, Google & Us

Why Tiered Broadband Is the Enemy of Innovation

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  1. I was wondering how long it would be before AT&T jumped on the bandwagon…

  2. Hopefully the impending Democratic administration and congress will take monopolistic abuse, and their duty to protect consumers a little more seriously. It would be nice if they could end this nonsense soon rather than later.

  3. This is bogus; they are limiting bandwidth not because of cost of delivering the service but the threat of people using the internet to watch TV and movies tapping into their cable TV profits. Everyone should let AT&T know this is a bad move and will slow the progress of the internet. use AT&T for internet now and will have no issue moving off if needed. I use Vudu and other internet technologies to watch TV and this limit would be an issue.

  4. AT&T Promises Bandwidth Limits: How will this effect streaming media service providers? « Splice of Life Weblog Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    [...] AT&T Trials Tiered Broadband in Nevada Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The FCCIs Comcast throttling all upstream bandwidth?Who’s Who?Bandwidth Management Will Continue to Grow, Report Finds   [...]

  5. Actually do not put much emphasis on 150GB, as that is only available for UVerse customers.

    This page has the caps based on vanilla DSL customers. As you can see, the Elite count has a cap of 80GB, not 150GB. The lower amount is enough to make services such as Netflix WatchNow, Hulu, et al no longer a feasible video alternative.

  6. Your Future Broadband Will Cost More, for Less – GigaOM Friday, November 7, 2008

    [...] | 2:13 PM PT | 0 comments AT&T this week said it would join other broadband providers in trialing tiered broadband services. The trial packages range from the ability to download between 20 and 150 Gigabytes of [...]

  7. Globally, Now 400M Broadband Subscribers – GigaOM Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    [...] under threat, thanks to the backward-looking policies of companies like Time Warner Cable, Comcast and AT&T, all of which want to put a meter on bandwidth — and with it, [...]

  8. The Inauguration Got Your (Broadband) Meter Running Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    [...] Additionally, data retrieved through the VNI Pulse application that Cisco offers for folks to track their own network traffic showed that yesterday individual users downloaded more than twice the amount of data they do during a normal day, at 322 MB vs. a typical average of 159 MB (using an admittedly small sample size of 100 people). Doug Webster, a marketing executive with Cisco, speculates that many people had the inaugural festivities streaming in the background while they did other things, but if one day of online streaming pushed up your data traffic by more than 100 percent, imagine how a regular viewing habit would affect you under a broadband cap — or with any tiered service that charges overage fees. [...]

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