Back in March we exclusively were the first to report
that AT&T would be imposing usage caps and overages on their terrestrial broadband users. Those caps have officially arrived, with DSL users now facing a 150 GB monthly cap, and U-Verse users now facing a 250 GB monthly cap. Both DSL and U-Verse users must pay $10 per every 50GB above the cap they travel. As our original report noted, only users who exceed the new usage cap three times -- across the life of your account, not per month -- will be forced to pay these new per byte overages.
AT&T had previously trialed significantly lower caps in portions of Texas and Nevada
. Those trials involved caps as low as 20 GB a month, though AT&T backed off the idea after the public beating that Time Warner Cable took
for imposing similarly low caps and high overages.
While it's true most customers likely won't initially
cross AT&T's significantly higher caps, there's numerous problems with AT&T's plan. Consumer advocates fear AT&T is simply getting the public used to the idea of overages, and will over time trend the caps downward and overages upward, far out of line with the real costs of providing fixed line bandwidth. There was already no economic justification
for imposing such limits on wired broadband users given the fact that flat-rate pricing is perfectly profitable, and most ISP costs for providing bandwidth are fixed or dropping.
There's also concerns that AT&T won't be capable of metering consumer usage accurately. We've cited time
and time again
how ISPs are so eager to impose these new limits they can't be bothered to ensure their meters work properly, and there's no regulatory oversight of these limits. AT&T is no exception, our users already noting problems with AT&T meter accuracy
, which AT&T tells us they're working on.
You can track customer reaction to the caps in our AT&T forums
(broken down by region). A number of users note that despite this supposedly being "D-Day" for AT&T caps, they can't access any usage meter whatsoever
. Note that many of these users can't vote with their wallet due to limited competition (the very thing that allows such pricing to exist in the first place), but some users may find they're able to sign up for AT&T business DSL -- which does not (for now) come with these new restrictions.