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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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This seems pretty legit to me...
By jharper12 on 3/14/2011 2:09:48 AM , Rating: 2
I live in a high use household. Five adults, and two of us run through a lot of bandwidth. Having said that, I doubt we've exceeded 250GB in a month. We actually moved from Comcast residential service to Comcast business service to avoid having a cap, which costs us a fair bit extra per month... and we're not even using more than 250GB, we just never wanted to have to worry about usage. We do lots of Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll streaming in this house, and since I work from home, I'm constantly online as well.

The extra fee represents a 6x to 20x markup from actual costs to the carrier, which is an amazingly low markup compared to what we usually see. Overall, I think this is a fair compromise. If you want to use more than 250GB a month, you should probably be on a business plan that's actually uncapped. 250GB represents about 71 hours of 1080 Netflix streaming, which is basically a movie a day.

Is it good we're all about to start receiving less service for the same amount of money? No. At the same time though, most of us aren't asking for the same service for the same amount of money... it's just now becoming entirely possible to use 250GB in a month, in the past this wasn't really the case in normal use scenarios. At least at these overage prices, we're not getting completely reamed. That basically sets the price of 1080 streamed movie at $1.4, which is still less than the cable companies charge for competing services.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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