AT&T to Limit DSL Data Usage

Beginning May 2, AT&T will limit the data usage for DSL subscribers to 150GB. AT&T announced they are going to cap off the amount of data that their home users can download, and then charge for overages. The company says the average home user only downloads about 18GB per month, so this cap off is aimed at data hogs rather than the typical home user. Supposedly, only 2 percent of their subscribers fall into this category. According to Peter Svensson,, “for U-Verse, a faster version of DSL available in some areas, the monthly cap will be 250 gigabytes.” Of course the real aim behind this cap off move is to capture funds for all those people using Internet-based TV services.

AT&T plans to charge $10 per 50GB of overage data. Most Internet service providers have data plan limits, but only warn you and then kick you off if you continue to be a data hog. Time Warner Cable Inc. tried to limit data usage along with an overage charge of $1 per gigabyte back in 2008, but it met with severe subscriber disenchantment, and Time Warner had to back off. According to Svensson’s article, “AT&T ran a similar experiment in a few areas, but with higher caps as well.”

Internet video seems to be the main concern. According to an article posted by Gary Kim, Cable Spotlight (, Internet video is now over 1/3 of all consumer Internet traffic, not including P2P file sharing. Kim writes that the Cisco Visual Networking Index reported that the total of all video (TV, video on demand, Internet and P2P) will exceed over 90% of global consumer traffic by 2014, and that Internet video alone will be 57% of all consumer Internet traffic in 2014.

The main complaint by users is that this will limit software downloads as well. If you purchase software (i.e. antivirus software or games) online, the limits imposed by AT&T could pose a problem for you. With spotty service (I live in a rural area) I resent having to spend extra money for a service that is often slow. In the rural areas we aren’t able to get the faster U-Verse service, so would therefore not be eligible for the larger data plan. AT&T is the only service provider in our area unless you want to go with a broadband air card, which is very costly. As with most “fine print” in contracts, the contract you have signed with AT&T gives them the right to change their policy at will. So what can we do?

Feeling a bit of anger over the price structure being put into place by AT&T? Do you think the other providers will follow suit? You can bet on it. How do you feel about it?

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