Back in May of 2011 we were the first to exclusively report
that AT&T would be imposing usage caps on the company's DSL and U-Verse users. Users were told DSL users would see a cap of 150 GB a month and U-Verse users would see a cap of 250 GB a month -- with both sets of users paying $10 for every additional 50 GB of data they use.
Users were given a meter to track their usage, but our users quickly pointed out that the meters weren't particularly accurate
. When pressed, AT&T informed users that the company couldn't share details on how they collected data because that information was proprietary
. Several years on, and only AT&T DSL users are seeing their caps enforced. Curious, I asked AT&T why and received this from an AT&T spokesman:
Due to the greater capacity of the U-verse architecture as compared to legacy DSL, we have not prioritized implementation of applicable usage allowances.
The problem with that explanation? Numerous people who work directly on the AT&T fixed line network have told me repeatedly over the years that neither AT&T's DSL or U-Verse networks see any meaningful congestion -- and that any congestion issues (usually peak) aren't helped by monthly usage restrictions. Contrary to company narratives, imposing caps has never been about network management. Like most caps and overages applied to fixed line networks, it is about making more money while muzzling the potential threat of Internet video on TV revenues.
So what's the real reason AT&T's not enforcing caps for vanilla DSL users? There's two likely reasons working concurrently:
: AT&T's already playing catch up with cable operators in U-Verse markets, so they're laying off U-Verse caps for marketing reasons. While faster U-Verse speeds are in the works
, cable is consistently dominating U-Verse in terms of speed, and applying a usage cap would just make things even uglier from a U-Verse marketing perspective.
•AT&T doesn't care about DSL users
: Like Verizon, AT&T doesn't much care about the tens of millions of DSL users it currently serves but doesn't want to upgrade. Like Verizon, AT&T realizes that customers left un-upgraded for years will likely leave, so they're speeding up the process. They're doing this by jacking up prices
so users will either migrate to LTE or leave. In Verizon's case, they're force bundling landlines and raising DSL rates
. In AT&T's case, they're imposing relatively low caps and overages -- on top of
higher base prices.
As previously noted
, AT&T has promised a "radical" expansion of U-Verse, but they're using fuzzy math to massively inflate the numbers for that effort
. While there will be some belated, already-scheduled expansion in Indianapolis and San Francisco, if you don't have U-Verse now you likely won't be getting it. AT&T lobbyists are going state by state throwing money at state leaders
so they'll gut the regulations requiring they serve these users.
Once those regulations are removed, if you're an unwanted AT&T DSL user you'll have three choices if or when your line gets severed: ridiculously expensive satellite service, heavily capped and expensive LTE service, or expensive service from a cable provider suddenly enjoying a stronger market monopoly. That will of course be passed off as "robust competition" by the usual hired fauxcademics
, but AT&T and Verizon's moves will have a dramatic and negative price impact on the overall broadband market and your wallet for years to come.