Fair warning for anyone who consumes a ton of bandwidth, ISPs are watching, and if you're an AT&T broadband subscriber, starting today the mandatory dress code calls for a data cap to be worn. DSLs users must squeeze into a 150GB cap every month, and if that's not enough, be ready to fork over $10 for every 50GB over that limit. U-verse users get a little more wiggle room to play with and are capped at 250GB per month. Should you be worried, or does this only affect out-of-control BitTorrent users clogging up the pipelines?
Verizon’s Chief Technology Officer, Dick Lynch, had some tough words for you heavy downloaders out there. He claimed that in the future, all internet access will be sold based on the amount of data a customer wants to consume. Lynch claims that so-called metered broadband is the only way forward. “We’re going to have to consider pricing structures that allow us to sell packages of bytes, and at the end of the day the concept of a flat-rate infinitely expandable service is unachievable,” said Lynch.
The Verizon CTO further explained that the model would likely be similar to the current model of wireless carriers, and not a specific price per gigabyte used. Verizon has previously decided against instituting caps on their FiOS service, but this could be an indication that all the uncapped internet goodness is about to end.
His statements were made as part of a larger discussion of Network Neutrality. Lynch specifically talked about the rise of high bandwidth applications and services. He said that some services “will not be happy on the public Internet.” Lynch speculated some other method of delivery for these services may be needed.
We’re used to hearing the outcry when a broadband provider tries to institute caps. Does the Internet-using population have the stomach for metered access? Let us know in the comments.
Whether you place the blame on ISPs for not upgrading their infrastructure or the small number of bandwidth hogs clogging up the pipes (with all legal content, of course), metered bandwidth looks to become the norm rather than the exception. AT&T becomes the latest to jump on board and will begin trials for metered internet access for subscribers living in Reno, Nevada. But that's not the half of it.
Those of you who were outraged at Comcast for having put a 250GB cap in place might want to stop reading now. According to a letter filed electronically with the FCC, AT&T attorney Jack Zimmerman says the size of his company's bandwidth caps will vary based on the service level. Customers on the 768kbps plan will be hit the hardest and have just 20GB to work with, while 6mbps subscribers will be capped at 150GB, or 100GB less than what Comcast is allowing. Should customers go over their service level's limit, a $1 per gigabyte charge will be assessed to the monthly bill.
Customers who want no part of the caps can choose to cancel their service and have their early termination fee waived. We imagine there are readily available alternatives in Reno, but should AT&T's test run spread to other areas, finding another ISP may not always be as easy. AT&T boasts 14.7 million subscribers, enough to rank the company as the largest ISP in the U.S.