As we noted earlier this week
, AT&T has officially shifted their residential broadband pricing to the cap and overage model. The company now caps DSL users at 150GB, U-Verse users at 250GB, and charges $10 for every 50GB over the cap users travel. A number of users continue to write in to note that the AT&T meter either doesn't work -- or isn't even available in their market, despite the caps being officially live. We've asked AT&T why the meter deployment isn't uniform, but have yet to hear back. AT&T meanwhile is busy trying to sell the idea to the press, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel going so far as to suggest that capping service was something AT&T did at customer request
"Our approach is based on customers' feedback," said Mark Siegel, spokesman for AT&T. "They told us that the people who use the most should pay more, and they also told us we should make it easy for them to track their usage. We think our approach addresses these concerns." Siegel called the caps "generous," and said that AT&T's DSL customers use just 18 GB per month on average.
Siegel's distortion here is arrogant and fairly epic, as you'd be hard pressed to find any AT&T subscriber who was clamoring to have their service capped and metered in the age of Netflix streaming and high-definition video. In fact, subscribers have time and time again stated they prefer the simplicity of flat-rate pricing. Overall, the CNN article itself is surprisingly coherent in an age where many journalists unquestioningly buy into ISP arguments that huge unjustified markups on bandwidth are about fairness. Siegel's silliness is countered by quotes like this one:
"This probably isn't absolutely necessary," said Vince Vittore, broadband analyst at Yankee Group. "It's mostly a move to prevent customers from cutting off video services."
AT&T continues to insist the caps aren't a big deal because most current
users won't hit them. Except AT&T's caps and overages aren't about the users of today -- they're about the users of tomorrow. While the cost to provide broadband continues to drop, AT&T is creating artificial scarcity and getting their customers used to an entirely new -- and completely unnecessary -- system of tolled pricing. AT&T's move absolutely is
a cash grab, and to suggest it's one customers requested adds insult to injury.