Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Broadband Reports was the first to learn, and has confirmed with AT&T, that the company will be implementing a new 150GB monthly usage cap for all DSL customers and a new 250 GB cap on all U-Verse users starting on May 2. From March 18 to March 31, AT&T users are going to be receiving notices informing them of the change in the company's terms of service. AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom confirmed the news to Broadband Reports after we initially contacted him last Friday concerning a leaked copy of the upcoming user notification. According to Bloom, the cap will involve overage charges. However, only users who consistently exceed the new caps will have to deal with these charges.
This is how it will work: only users who exceed the new usage cap three times -- across the life of your account, not per month -- will be forced to pay these new per byte overages. Overages will be $10 for every 50GB over the 150 GB or 250GB limit they travel.
According to the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index Usage study (October 2010), the average broadband connection generates 14.9 GB of Internet traffic per month. Even more interesting, the top 1 percent of broadband connections is responsible for more than 20 percent of total Internet traffic and the top 10 percent of connections is responsible for over 60 percent of broadband Internet traffic, worldwide. That means a small group of "uber users" (JDA isn't sure if she's one of these and would rather not out her lack of a life by admitting she probably is) suck up a lot of bandwidth, for the technologically-challenged out there.
Here's the problem with a proposal that would, in reality, only directly affect about 1 in every 50 AT&T customers: the consumer is lazy. The consumer doesn't like having to watch the clock and for some of us who have been at this Internet thing for awhile, we are still haunted by AOL PTSD, characterized by phantom images of $600 bills thanks to outrageous hourly pricing back when data was practically more precious than gold or, in this economy, copper. So the idea of having to track our usage seems primitive and almost offensive given the proliferation of technology that is sadly still limited by the same handful of providers as if stuck in some antiquated Ma Bell time warp.
I think AT&T forgets that we're behind here in the United States to begin with. Get us up to speed with those kids in Korea downloading songs in seconds and maybe there's an argument to put a premium on unlimited bandwidth but until that happens, maybe a tiered system is just what the lazy consumer needs.