AT&T has confirmed that they will begin putting caps on bandwidth usage and charging for overages beginning May 2. A new 150GB monthly usage cap will be enforced on all DSL customers and a 250GB cap on all U-Verse users will begin on May 2. AT&T customers who use either of these services will begin receiving notices later this week.
The company says that the new caps will on affect about 2% of consumers and that the average DSL customer uses only about 18GB per month – well under the limit. AT&T says they are attempting to reign in very high bandwidth users to keep the network affordable.
Enforcement will be only on those who consistently go over the cap. Users will only be charged overage fees if they go over the cap three times in the life of their account. The charges will be $10 for every 50GB over the limit.
AT&T says they will be proactively notifying customers of their current usage rates and will contact them directly when they reach 65%, 90% and then 100% of their usage allowance every month. The provider is rolling out usage tools that can track apps or services that use large amounts of data so that users can pinpoint where their bandwidth is going.
Although the plan is clearly laid out, critics have many questions for AT&T. Such as where the usage data showing that this is needed is and what they will do when the heavy user of today becomes the average user tomorrow. With more and more Internet-connected apps and appliances entering the stream – and with the future of video obviously moving towards streaming.. will these caps be a business-killer for the provider?