Print 110 comment(s) - last by JPForums.. on Mar 24 at 10:44 AM

The end is near for all-you-can-eat broadband plans

If you are an AT&T DSL or U-Verse customer and just so happen to be an extreme data hog, your reign of terror will soon be over. DSL Reports is indicating that AT&T plans to implement new data caps on customers starting May 2 (notices will be sent to customers between March 18 and March 31).

The data caps will be set at 150GB for DSL customers and 250GB for U-Verse customers. As somewhat of a token gesture to customers, the bandwidth limit can be exceeded twice over the life of your account without ill effect. However, overage fees will be put in place upon the third time that your monthly data allotment is exceeded. 

Overage fees will be $10 for every 50GB that you go over the limit. However, AT&T will send notices to customers at the 65, 90, and 100 percent data cap thresholds, so there should be no excuse for customers to not know when they are approaching their monthly limits.

AT&T already imposes data limits on its wireless plans, so this move to landline data connections should come as no surprise. Like its wireless data caps, AT&T cites a small minority of customers that hog a disproportionate amount of bandwidth.

"The top 2 percent of residential subscribers uses about 20 percent of the bandwidth on our network," said AT&T in a statement to Engadget. "Just one of these high-traffic users can utilize the same amount of data capacity as 19 typical households."

If you're used to an all-you-can-eat buffet when it comes to online video streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, it looks as though those days are slowly coming to an end.

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By Gzus666 on 3/13/2011 9:50:28 PM , Rating: 5
I'm guessing you have no idea how networks work. The craziness of this post is through the roof. It would be impossible for anyone to afford the sort of backbone it would require to run everyone at reasonable speeds 24/7. On top of that, it would be a giant waste of money as people don't use them 24/7. This would be like building highways to support every driver at once 24/7 or power companies making power for everyone using power 24/7, it is just plain stupid.

On top of the above stated, do you have any idea how shared mediums work? Everyone in the world would need their own pipe everywhere to be able to use the links 24/7. People like you are ridiculous as you don't think about the logistics, just what you think you deserve. As a network engineer, people like you make me cringe.

By theArchMichael on 3/13/2011 11:15:18 PM , Rating: 3
I think your estimates of affordability are overstated. But, be that as it may, Americans pay some of the highest premiums for only moderate service in comparison to other developed nations and also the service isn't sold to us as 'the first x number of GBs', it is sold as unlimited internet.

I think what raises people's ire is that these very powerful very profitable companies that have no real competition in many markets are cherry picking their customers through deceptive practices. They often engage in tactics that are akin to the hostess at an all you can eat turning people away at the the "all you can eat buffet"...

By Wendell on 3/13/2011 11:28:57 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, I have seen people turned away from all you can eat buffets...after the 5th, 6th, 7th time back...

Fair or not, I don't think it is necessarily right to expect a company to "eat" a loss on some people simply because they are making profit on others.

By Alexstarfire on 3/14/2011 1:56:41 AM , Rating: 4
That's exactly the point of that type of business model. The fact that they are trying to make it a traditional fast food place, like Taco Bell, but still having the buffet prices, and advertising as such, is ridiculous. If you don't want people having/expecting unlimited internet then don't advertise as such. It's such a fucking simple solution yet they don't want to do it. I think caps are stupid as is since bandwidth isn't it terms of GB, it's GBps. If you think of it like the car analogy that someone else mentioned all you have to do is look at rush hour. Doesn't matter if the roads can support most of the cars most of the time. You get too many people out there at once and shit comes to a halt. No amount of data caps can prevent such things from occurring. The only way to relieve it is to build more. The idea that they think they can prevent it from happening is in itself ridiculous.

By KOOLTIME on 3/16/2011 5:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
but then they should not sell something as being unlimited in style and ask for monthly payments, and expect nobody to fully utilize said service ???

So for an unlimited data, which paid for every month, yet some how thats wrong because if someone takes full potential of a service they were sold and pay for ??

Scamming consumers is wrong, if you sell it unlimited be prepared to back that up to being utilized by every customer at is full peak or dont sell something as such when its not a true service to begin with, thats fraudulent.

If every single person went online and decided to fully download data all day long, they have every right to do so, they pay for exactly that service, only the speed up/down is stipulated in their contract.

They should stipulate their is a limit then their would have been no issue, but selling such a item, then bitching about limits later is not a user fault at all, they sold them the line with such conditions attached. So if a person fully uses something they pay for and were sold, they are some how a bad person ???

We get cell phones are sold with monthly minute limits, nobody has issue paying a fee when the know their contract and they go over that limit.

But in this case the contract being sold to hundreds of millions if not billions of users all over the world that stipulation does not exist currently. So someone using bandwidth more then another when the service never implied their is a data cap limit only and up/down speed limit, the ISP is at fault.

Now being sold a plan with a data cap up front sure, everyone understands that, but the issue is they were not sold such type of plan for their home internet use. So the ISP is changing its terms of contract, regardless of the payers agreement to contractual changes thats the real issue here.

By JPForums on 3/24/2011 9:44:26 AM , Rating: 2
The issue is this isn't like an all you can eat buffet. The data being consumed isn't produced by AT&T, Comcast, ect. All they are doing is facilitating its consumption. To stick with a food example, though still not good, it would be more like setting up a table with plates and flatware, letting you get your own food, and then telling you you can only eat X amount.

By Gzus666 on 3/13/2011 11:29:25 PM , Rating: 5
I think your estimates of affordability are overstated.

Lucky for me I don't have to estimate, I have worked for AT&T, I have worked on many business networks. I know plenty of people who work for carriers and I am starting with a carrier to help deploy a ground up MPLS network. I have priced out equipment from the lowly to the carrier grade, I know what it costs. I have priced out fiber runs and cable runs, I know what they cost.

I have had to make tough decisions on how to properly use bandwidth when the customers can't buy more. I have had to play queuing and shaping games to make bandwidth go further. I have spent weeks working with carriers to stretch a little bandwidth further when a customer was having hard peaks but averages were low. The dumb answer was always "just buy more bandwidth", but it doesn't work that way in the real world.

I am not sticking up for AT&T, they are a terrible company with horrid customer service, but you can thank the government for the monopolies as they sponsored them. AT&T is just doing what anyone would do with that sort of leverage, using it to their advantage. If they don't make more money, the stock holders will just fire the CEO and assign someone who will.

The real fix is competition. AT&T should have made a better decision than imposing hard limits with charges for going over, but they had to do something and they aren't going to rerun thousands of miles of cable, especially since it takes a literal act of congress for anyone to run them.

Lastly, if they put it in the contract and you sign up for the service, they aren't screwing you, they are merely giving you what you signed for.

By T2k on 3/14/11, Rating: 0
By FITCamaro on 3/14/2011 8:45:40 AM , Rating: 5
Don't you have some pot you need to go smoke?

By Misty Dingos on 3/14/2011 10:29:32 AM , Rating: 3
Dude do not drive or post angry. It is only Monday and you still have the whole week to get through.

By shortylickens on 3/17/2011 7:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
Would you like a hug?

By jarman on 3/13/2011 11:24:39 PM , Rating: 2
People like you are ridiculous as you don't think about the logistics, just what you think you deserve. As a network engineer, people like you make me cringe.

How about receiving you have paid for? Is it a crime against humanity to expect a company to live up to a service that it was certainly willing to sell? If AT&T has to cap its bandwidth, then that's fine. Just don't sell it to your customers as something entirely different.

By Gzus666 on 3/13/11, Rating: 0
By RMSe17 on 3/14/11, Rating: 0
By icemansims on 3/14/2011 10:31:39 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, but you sound like a corporate mouthpiece. The problem with the argument of "you accept the terms of service" is that the consumer has no choice if they want service at all. This is why laws that protect the consumer have to be in place.
The language itself should be outlawed in the advertisements. "Up to XXX mbits/s" could actually deliver dialup speeds and be well within their contract, technically.
The rest of your argument makes no sense because you DO use electricity 24/7, number one, and number two, this is data transfer. It's closer to having your TV on 24/7 and watching cable the whole time.

By someguy123 on 3/14/2011 1:49:51 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see them selling it as something different.

New plan will not come into effect until after billing cycles. Right now they're making people aware that, if you stay, there will be a cap if you're someone who uses a substantial amount of bandwidth. At that point you're free to leave the service if you do not agree to the terms.

They're not stealing from you. They're just being greedy and leveraging their position. At the same time, the cost of sustaining the network to please the top percentage of bandwidth users is very high, with zero return and essentially zero performance benefits for the average user.

By mcnabney on 3/14/2011 11:48:51 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, you missed the point.

AT&T is a defacto monopoly in many areas and only competes against a single cable provider in the rest. Only a few select areas of the nation have FiOS available as a third competitor. Because they are defacto monopoly they cannot arbitrarily change policy / pricing without local government approval. Unfortunately, our Federal government is bought and paid for so nothing will stop these monopolists from doing this.

The key option is to allow communities to errect and operate their own data networks - but apparently they can't stand up to the legal attacks from providers if anyone recalls that community in North Carolina that did just that when their providers wouldn't service them very well.

Sadly, we get the lousy and overpriced data network that we deserve.

By someguy123 on 3/14/2011 12:39:37 PM , Rating: 2
Hence the word leverage.

By Solandri on 3/14/2011 7:25:50 AM , Rating: 2
How about receiving you have paid for? Is it a crime against humanity to expect a company to live up to a service that it was certainly willing to sell? If AT&T has to cap its bandwidth, then that's fine. Just don't sell it to your customers as something entirely different.

That's exactly what they're doing - they are making it so they're not selling it to their customers as something entirely different. They used to sell the service without specifying how much total bandwidth you could use in a month. Now they're saying up-front that you can only use 150 or 250 GB in a month.

It sucks for the folks who signed up when there were no such limits. But I'm willing to bet their contract is worded so the ISP can unilaterally modify the terms like this. ISPs got wise to avoiding binding contracts which committed them to unlimited service back in the 1990s.

The real issue is ISPs advertising unlimited usage, then in the fine print of the contract slipping in that they can cap your usage, thus making it limited. That's false advertisement and the FTC needs to crack down on it. But I see it as a Good Thing that ISPs are finally deciding to be up-front and honest about just how much bandwidth they'll let you use. At least it's not like the BS Comcast pulled where they made a limit, but they wouldn't tell you what the limit was nor how close you were to it, and they'd terminate your service if you exceeded it.

By chick0n on 3/14/11, Rating: 0
By EricMartello on 3/14/2011 5:27:16 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah that's exactly right.

I'm using FiOS and up to now do not have to worry about bullshit like this. I'm paying a bit of a premium for my 35/35 Mbps service but I get the speeds in both directions and can sustain them. I do not utilize my network 24/7 but I do transfer a lot more than 50 GB in both directions each month.

If you factor in streaming HD video that 50 GB cap they're imposing will go away fast. Quite frankly I don't know why anyone would continue using AT&T simply on principle alone.

By heffeque on 3/14/2011 6:18:27 AM , Rating: 2
Because in the US there are a lot of places where there's no real alternative.

Although there are a lot of ISP in the US, they are mostly a monopoly in their own territory (an oligarchy at the most) so it's "either my way or no way".

For example, my grandma has two options where she lives: Comcast... or a 54 Kbps modem with Verizon. The second option is NOT an option.

By TheRequiem on 3/14/2011 9:36:27 AM , Rating: 2
I think your logic is flawed. This is the Zionist movement of the west and the corporate entities exploiting once again, their greed for more money. The reason your statement is flawed is these companies know it is a business model that won't exactly affect us too much now, hoever, in 5 years from now, when we use exponentially use more data then we do now, it will severely limit our abilities. I do not agree with capping, it is yet another freedom that is being taken away. People have been abusing the bandwith for eyars, there's no reason to make evryone else pay for it. I will reject any ISP and switch my service effective immediately upon any notice of capping. They will lose more money if this will be the case as hopefully people will speak with their wallets and money ALWAYS speaks!

By Breakfast Susej on 3/14/2011 12:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
I've read the back and forth on this between Gzus666 and those with an opposing point of view, which has degenerated to a very childlike level of pissing match in both directions and here is the disconnect as I see it.

Both parties are right in their own respect.

Gzus666 is entirely correct in stating that no network is designed nor can be designed to let each individual user go full blast 24/7 on their connection at the same time. It simply is not financially possible.

Does this change the fact that big companies like AT&T are greedy corporate entities? No, they definitely are, and sure, they could even be more efficient at the ratio of what they offer the customer as opposed to their profit margin.

However... Lets assume that they managed to take in just enough profit to survive as a company. Lets assume they were the most altruistic and wonderful group of human beings on the planet and that the executives didn't take huge bonuses, that they barely scraped by as a company and every employee was on a modest salary that everyone here approved of...

The end result would be that they still would not be able to offer the kind of network that allows you to go full blast 24/7 and download a terabyte of crap every month. They could give you more yes, but they could never satisfy what you feel you are entitled too. There-in lies the problem, the disconnect.

As far as the argument from an advertising standpoint goes, If these companies want customers they have to tell them things they want to hear. That's advertising. When I read advertisements I always read them with a grain of salt. I do this because I also write advertisements. Flat Outright lying advertisement I will agree is bad, but in honesty you will find very very little of actual bald face lying in advertisement. It's a game of stretching the truth to put you in the best light, and why do you do it? Because the competition does, and if you don't compete, you go out of business.

By KOOLTIME on 3/16/2011 4:54:34 PM , Rating: 2
And its fool network techs that think companies imposing these actions is also the right thing to do.

1. Selling something to a person which these customers PAY FOR <<< Note they pay for a internet that every one is told you have X upload speed and Y download speed for Z monthly dollars is a typical contract.

In no place in any residential contract does it stipulate an data capacity limit ???

So for the ISP selling a unlimited line to customers, then asking them to pay a fee or fine to those that happen to use more then others is simply wrong.

Clearly the IPS's are at fault here and this shows they abuse customers for their business mistakes.

When you buy a cell phone you are sold monthly minutes, we understand the limits of such, sure.

Sold it upfront with a data cap, then yes the enduser is at fault and will be aware fees are due, but adding that after you sold them services is breach of contract, since no such words were told when they installed the service to such persons homes upfront. So a person fully ustilizing a line which no limitations where ever implied or signed for on the contract, is wrong of ISP's to do this, its breach of ocntract and illegal. But most endusers cant afford to legally go up agaisnt big companies so, in the end they will get stuck paying for it even though they dont deserve deserve to have their contract changed without consent.

Now the consumer is forced to quit or pay more, and the long run the businesses know they will win over time since this is the only recourse most have. They move on, and a new ISP will only give em a new contract with such fees up front, so they cant hold their original contract in place. Users will be forced one way or another to pay more regardless of usage terms originally agreed upon.

ISP's will just cancel them, then if they try to get service they will be subjected to new contract, since the original no limit contract got cancelled. The IPS will make the contract change to a person weather they like it or not. Every legal loop hole in the book will be abused by them to enforce new fees for their services, upon changing contract rules as they want to, the consumer is helpless upon big corporations enforcing contract rule changes without agreement. The big corps 99.99% always win and get there way one way or another in these cases.

They will just cancel the person, then the home user has zero recurse of action for when the IPS breaches its original contract, by selling them the unlimited line in the 1st place. Thats the ISP's fault not a person whom downloads alot all day, as they sold them the unlimited line t begin with, if they dont like it being fully utilized then they should never have sold it as such up front.

By kitonne on 3/16/2011 6:51:43 PM , Rating: 2
Last time I checked, each evening, ALL THE HOUSES in my area have the lights on :) This means that the utility has a network which meets the demand, and each time new buildings are build, the power guys are adding transformers and new high voltage lines, as needed. True, I have a meter, and I pay for usage, BUT because the power company has a local monopoly, their rates are REGULATED and they cannot charge whatever their shareholders would like. They also GUARANTEE service levels for what they sell. If I loose service, I can get a check for the spoiled food in my freezer (yep, you have to file a claim, document your losses, but they pay).

If ATT wants us to pay for usage, their rates WILL be subject to local cost controls, and their selection of the same 250GB for a cap is too close to the Comcast cap number (also 250GB) not to rise some anti-competitive concerns.

Internet access is becoming an utility, and it is only a matter of time until it is regulated and billed as such, BUT I think that rates need to be in line with real costs, like rates for water, electricity and garbage collection, not with CEO's bonus targets....

By JPForums on 3/24/2011 10:44:18 AM , Rating: 2
Correct. Companies don't sell bandwidth with the intention of providing it 100% of the time. In fact, AT&T clearly states that you'll get up to X Mbps. Phone companies, internet companies, and other companies dealing with such networks first decide at what probability they wish to maintain their service. I.E. What percentage of time do I have to maintain services at or near the specifications before my customers come head hunting. They then use stochastic models to see how much bandwidth they can sell on the network infrastructure before crossing that line.

The problem is that marketing and management tend to arbitrarily adjust these precisely calculated figures to their liking. On top of that, they are neither willing to leave a reasonable amount of bandwidth unallocated for potential customers nor willing to turn away customers once their limit is reached until they can expand their infrastructure. The perception of overselling bandwidth comes from setting the probability too low and/or taking on customers they are ill-equipped to handle (even if only temporarily).

The other major (in my opinion much larger) issue people have is the fact that bandwidth caps are double dipping. Your road example is a good one. It should be expected that there will be times of congestion, though this is much easier to alleviate on networks given the available tools. However, I'm fairly certain we would see more than a little public dissension if we were suddenly told we could only drive 1500 miles a month before incurring fines. They might say things like 2% of people drive 20% of the distance on roads, but that isn't going to mean much to the guy who lives 40 miles from work. Also, this makes no concession for temporarily high usage. I.E. roadtrips become more problematic.

I don't even agree with the idea of metered service in the first place. Utility companies own the utility they are metering. They basically charge you X amount for their product + some fixed cost to facilitate delivery and maintenance of said product. Since the internet company doesn't own the data you are transferring over the pipes, I have issue with them charging anything more than the delivery and maintenance.

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