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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 Alexstarfire on 2/5/2008 11:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
And that's the real problem. I mean, anyone who knows anything about internet connections knows that it'd be nearly impossible to get your rated speed ALL the time. There are just too many factors that come in to play. While you can't get your rated speed 100% of the time it's a big problem if you never get your rated speed. I don't have that problem, but I'm sure some people do. They need restrictions on what they can say in advertising and be held to it. I mean, as you said, they can advertise as up to 5Mbit but never really give it to you and get away with it. Granted, the customer would likely be pissed and leave, but that isn't the point. I say you have to be able to get your rated speed at least 90% of the time. Say "up to" shouldn't be allowed, or it should at least include "within 1Mb of rated speed."

RE: Channel Specific Usage.
By MrPickins on 2/5/2008 11:40:55 PM , Rating: 2
I've had ATT DSL since it was SBC, and I have gotten my full rated speed 99% of that time. NOw, servers may not send the data that fas, but speed tests show I'm getting full bandwidth.

As for the rate hike, it's BS and may cause me to switch.

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