AT&T to implement monthly data caps for high-speed Internet service

AT&T LogoWhen AT&T introduced data caps to its cellphone plans, customers balked initially but they eventually got over it. Will they accept the change so easily though when the same model is applied to at-home Internet service? That’s what the service provider is banking on with its plan to launch a new pricing structure built around data usage for landline DSL and U-Verse customers, according to DSLReports.

Under the new terms, customers using landline DSL will be limited to 150GB of data per month and U-Verse customers will be limited to 250GB. There will also be overage fees, $10 for every 50GB past the max that you go. Everyone will have two grace periods before overage fees start kicking in, meaning you can go past the limit twice before picking up any new charges. The new plan kicks off on May 2, with letters going out to AT&T subscribers later this week.

AT&T’s position is that the average DSL customer uses roughly 18GB per month, and that only around 2% of subscribers will be impacted by the new fees, the people who use a “disproportionate amount of bandwidth.” Customers will be kept informed of their usage with notifications as they hit 65 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent of the monthly allotment. There will also be an online tool which subscribers can use to check how much data they’ve gone through.

An AT&T spokesman confirmed the news to Engadget, also adding that U-Verse TV service won’t count towards the data cap. There’s also an official statement which lays out the company’s reasoning for implementing the new pricing structure, which you can read below.

We are committed to providing a great experience for all of our Internet customers. Less than 2 percent of our Internet customers could be impacted by this approach – those who are using a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. We will communicate early and often with these customers so they are well aware of their options before they incur any additional usage charges.

The top 2 percent of residential subscribers uses about 20 percent of the bandwidth on our network. Just one of these high-traffic users can utilize the same amount of data capacity as 19 typical households. Lopsided usage patterns can cause congestion at certain points in the network, which can slow Internet speeds and interfere with other customers’ access to and use of the network. Our new plan addresses another concern: customers strongly believe that only those who use the most bandwidth should pay more than those who don’t use as much. That’s exactly what this does – and again, 98% of our customers will not be impacted by this.

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