AT&T Imposes Data Caps on Broadband Subscribers

By Beecher Tuttle May 02, 2011

AT&T on Sunday became the second broadband carrier in the U.S. to institute a data cap policy. The metering initiative, first announced in March of this year, will affect terrestrial subscribers of the company's DSL and U-Verse broadband Internet services.

DSL and U-Verse customers are now capped at limits of 150 GB and 250 GB per month, respectively. Those who exceed the monthly limits three times will be charged $10 for every additional 50GB above the cap.

Metering policies are ways for companies like Comcast and AT&T to protect themselves from "data hogs," who are constantly streaming HD Web content from sites such as Hulu and Netflix. AT&T said that the plan should not adversely affect today's average user, who consumes only 18 GB of data per month.

For subscribers to exceed the 150 GB cap, they wound need to stream 10 HD movies, watch 200 sitcom-length TV shows and 500 one-minute YouTube videos as well as upload thousands of pictures to social networking sites, according to AT&T. The carrier said that the policy should only affect about 2 percent of all subscribers.

Still, AT&T has received a considerable amount of pushback from customers who fear that the company will soon impose stricter limits. Critics have also pointed to the fact that AT&T has no economic justification for the metering policy as the company's old flat rate policy was very profitable. Some have even suggested that data caps are ways for companies to compensate for their loss of cable revenue, which has been steadily declining in recent years due to the Web-enabled TV movement. has also indicated that AT&T users have complained about poor metering accuracy – something the carrier has said that it is working on.

AT&T customers will be notified on several occasions when they are in danger of exceeding their monthly data limits. Subscribers can also track their usage online, which will ironically add to their monthly total.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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