AT&T to Limit Internet Access, Charge for Excess Usage
AT&T has announced that it will limit customer’s internet usage and impose overage penalties for exceeding that limit. AT&T broadband customers will be forced into a tiered internet system, limiting customers to 150 gigabytes per month. Go over that, and it will cost you $10 per 50 gigabytes. If you watch too many movies on Netflix, spend too long playing online video games, or participate in any bandwidth-intensive activity like file sharing, get ready to pay extra starting May 2.
According to Raw Story, net neutrality advocates and tech businesses slammed AT&T’s decision, saying it will force other companies into a restrictive business model. Innovation could also suffer as internet users monitor their bandwidth consumption and try to stay within the 150 gigabyte limit.
Some industry analysts predict a grim future for online movie rental giant Netflix, especially now that the company is offering more and more titles in high definition. If Netflix were to offer full-fidelity 1080p high-definition video, AT&T customers would have to limit their daily viewing time to 90 minutes in order to avoid overage fees.
AT&T isn’t the first broadband provider to limit customers’ bandwidth usage. Comcast has been doing so since 2008. And only about 2% of AT&T users regularly exceed 150 gigabytes each month, with the average customer using around 18 gigs. The company issued the following statement:
“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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