AT&T is getting into the act:

Starting in November, AT&T will limit downloads to 20 gigabytes per month for users of their slowest DSL service, at 768 kilobits per second. The limit increases with the speed of the plan, up to 150 gigabytes per month at the 10 megabits-per-second level.

To exceed the limits, subscribers would need to download constantly at maximum speeds for more than 42 hours, depending on the tier. In practice, use of e-mail and the Web wouldn’t take a subscriber anywhere near the limit, but streaming video services like the one Netflix Inc. (NFLX) offers could. For example, subscribers who get downloads of 3 megabits per second have a monthly cap of 60 gigabytes, which allows for the download of about 30 DVD-quality movies.

The limits will initially apply to new customers in the Reno area, AT&T said. Current users will be enrolled if they exceed 150 gigabytes in a month, regardless of their connection speed.

150 is worse than 250, of course. I am also not entirely positive of the market-wisdom when AT&T (at least in the markets I’ve lived in) has been trying to play catch-up. I have to think that cable providers have more flexibility since it remains the standard.

There is one thing that AT&T is definitely doing right that I wish Comcast would:

Customers will be able to track their usage on an AT&T Web site. The company will also contact people who reach 80 percent of their limit. After a grace period to get subscribers acquainted with the system, those who exceed their allotment will pay $1 per gigabyte, Coe said.

Bandwidth tracking and notification. I would be a lot less irked at Comcast if they offered this. I don’t foresee a scenario in which I would use more than 250GB, but I’ve already found myself curbing my usage in the off-chance that I approach the point where they cut me off. So while I’m not sure about AT&T’s plan on the whole, I can at least applaud their transparency.

-{Comcast Limits Bandwidth, 9/2/8}-
-{Bandwidth Limiting The Future?, 8/9/8}-
-{The Digital Devil’s Due, 1/25/8}-


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3 Responses to More On Bandwidth Throttling

  1. bobvis says:

    This, in my view is *good* news.

    I am much more a fan of simply charging people who go over more. Sure, no one likes to have to pay more, but it certainly doesn’t seem unfair to charge people who use the service more more money. Also, it’s great that they will be offering warnings.

    Additionally, it is frankly good for the public. When people who use more pay more, it helps fund the buildout of the network as a whole. AT&T can use that extra revenue to upgrade its system to help serve more high-bandwidth customers that got simply cut off by Comcast.

    (If I actually were with them though, I wouldn’t be that happy about it. I am just addressing this from an economics perspective.)

  2. trumwill says:

    I still question AT&T’s move from a business standpoint. High-bandwidth users cut off by Comcast would be spending in excess of $150 a month (plus $1 for every bit they want to go over Comcast’s limit). For that kind of money, they can probably get a business account with Comcast with better rates all-around. I’m not sure what business they would hope to be picking up here.

    I could talk more about the problems with throttling or how I do think that tiers are probably more fair, but I’d just be rehashing my comments on previous posts.

  3. bobvis says:

    Good point on just upgrading their accounts. I would love to be able to just pay for tiered usage. When you use more than X in a month, they bump up your charge to the next level that month. I hate this game of trying to figure out the most you will use any month and try to remain under it. This is most bothersome with cell phone plans.

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