Print 93 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Feb 8 at 8:56 PM

AT&T plans rate increase for broadband service, hopes customers will be willing to pony up cash for higher rates

The state of broadband in U.S. was described in an in depth analysis at DailyTech last year as "pathetic" and "disgraceful".  The industry is plagued with poor service quality, substandard data rates, zealous attempts to limit file-sharing, and most of all high prices.

Fittingly, San Antonion-based AT&T, notorious for at one time suspending user's right to free speech, announced a rate hike.  The rate hike, a $5 flat rate increase to subscribers' current monthly fee, may be financially lucrative for the company, but is likely to make no one else very happy.  The increase, announced Monday by a company spokesman will go into effect in March.  All states besides those acquired by the buyout of Bell South will be effected.  Bell South operated in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, so these states are exempt.

There are some other notable exceptions to the increase.  The increase, while applying to the vast majority of accounts, only applies to the three slowest connections speeds; 768 kbps, 1.5 Mbps, and 3.0 Mbps.  The 1.5 Mbps service tier is AT&T's most used, with 14.2 million subscribers.  Most of these subscribers will be hit with the rate increase.

New subscribers to the 768 kbps service will be exempt, but most people don't choose this option.  Also exempt are customers who signed up under special promotion packages.  These customers are exempt for the remainder of their promotion's term. 

AT&T informed customers of the increase by email beginning last week.  AT&T spokesman Michael Coe states that the increase is to, "to better reflect the value of our broadband service."

AT&T has been having a tough time financially, ever since Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson announced that he saw weaknesses in the current consumer broadband and cell phone markets.   AT&T has also recently announced a controversial new filtering plan to snoop on consumer's use and block "rogue" file sharing traffic.

The consumer internet world has been having a tough time in the U.S. and abroad of late.  In France, the government threatens an internet tax which would raise prices.  In the U.S. domain tasters exploit the system to take domains and ad-revenue from legitimate users.   Meanwhile, Time Warner recently announced an even more scary proposal for the consumer broadand industry -- usage based billing schemes.  Normal consumer broadband is speed limited, but has no monthly bandwidth limit, to the delight of many downloaders.  Unfortunately, Time Warner labels these individuals "devil users" and looks to curb a feeling of entitlement to "all you can eat" internet.

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RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By Murst on 2/5/2008 3:40:42 PM , Rating: 5
I completely agree that their advertising is rather shady, but it is not false advertising, and certainly not fraud.

When DSL companies do their commercials, they say "up to 5 Mb/s". If you then read the contract, they usually do have some provision that guarantees a certain speed. In my case, when I signed up for a "up to 5 Mb/s" service, that minimum was ~750 Kb/s.

After two weeks, I cancelled the service and went with Time Warner. Its slightly more expensive, but I also get a connection that on average is 14.2 Mb/s in the evenings. The one huge disadvantage is that with DSL I had a static IP, where my IP is dynamic with TW. The difference in speed more than makes up for it (although some people do *need* a static IP, and the TW prices for that here are insane).

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the advertising is not fraud. It very clearly states that the speeds are maximums, and not guaranteed. In the same way, car companies advertise 0% apr, but are quick to point out that not everyone will qualify.

RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By FITCamaro on 2/5/2008 3:46:49 PM , Rating: 3
Dynamic IPs are no longer a problem since there's free services out there which will automatically update your IP for when you want to host a website at home. Of course you're not supposed to but who here follows all the rules.

And this price hike is BS. A 768 kpbs connection is only worth $5 a month in my mind. Much less adding $5 to whatever it already costs.

RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By Murst on 2/5/2008 3:51:33 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not just talking about hosting websites. Most people don't *have* to host websites.

A coworker of mine's wife works for a company that restricts access to their VPN based on IPs. Therefore, you must have a specific IP to log into the VPN, and a service with a dynamic IP will not work. Yes, this is a stupid policy, but this is a case where this person needs a static IP.

RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By amanojaku on 2/5/2008 4:25:03 PM , Rating: 5

This price hike is NOT BS. How else is AT&T going to pay for all the traffic shaping and snooping equipment??? I mean, really!


RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By Christopher1 on 2/6/2008 7:53:49 AM , Rating: 1
In this day and age, a 768k connection is only worth 5 dollars a month at most.

Think about this: Comcast is 50 dollars a month for a 6Mb connection, FIOS is 30-50 dollars for a 6 to 12Mb connection... where does AT&T get the idea that anyone is going to pay these high rates for an obscenely slow connection?

RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By legoman666 on 2/6/2008 8:04:53 AM , Rating: 2
people like me with 0 other choices.

RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By FITCamaro on 2/6/08, Rating: 0
RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By RjBass on 2/5/2008 5:22:21 PM , Rating: 2 It's free and it's the next best thing to a static IP.

RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By PAPutzback on 2/6/2008 9:16:53 AM , Rating: 2 Almost every router I have seen can be configured to update this site with your IP. And you can create an easy to remember name instead of writing down your ip address and keeping it in your wallet.

RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By mindless1 on 2/6/2008 10:31:20 AM , Rating: 2
No, it's definitely false advertising if they advertise something they are not putting due diligence into supporting rather than it being some special event to get it (ie - with a tailwind, locally cached, on same network segment, etc).

Recognize it for what it is, there has to be a real standard of compliance, otherwise they can just continue overpopulating areas until everyone has terrible service and only make an excuse like "oh, but if the people using it most didn't, there'd be more bandwidth left", which really means nothing because even if those largest consumers were gone, they'd just have all the more opportunity to continue overpopulating and claiming someone else is to blame.

Even if a speed isn't guaranteed, they are in fact advertising it as the primary quantity, as a term of service. If the average that can be sent is 3Mbps rather than 5Mbps, and they don't want to be deceitful, they only need advertise 3Mbps instead. They CHOOSE to do what they are doing, so if they can't meet their claims it's time to stop making them.

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