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: