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AT&T mulling fees for heavy Internet use

updated 03:05 pm EDT, Fri June 13, 2008

AT&T Mulls Overage Fees

AT&T believes it "inevitable" that its most frequent Internet users will pay some kind of surcharge for the extra demand on the network, says company representative Michael Coe. The official cautions that there are no plans in place but notes that AT&T, like most providers, is facing a surge in traffic on its DSL service that is primarily led by a small group of users and may need to be controlled by charging extra for heavy usage. About 5 percent of customers use 46 percent of overall bandwidth, Coe explains.

While DSL is switch-based and so doesn't suffer from the very localized congestion of cable Internet access, the disproportionate use is said to affect other users. Coe also notes that overall use doubles roughly every 18 months, putting strain on the larger network.

AT&T's stance echoes an increasing shift by US providers towards attempting to curb heavy usage. Comcast is considering the use of a 250GB soft cap that would accommodate most users but charge overage fees for users who cross that point. International providers in Canada and other regions have already implemented similar systems.

Critics of the caps argue that they unfairly curb a switch by many users from cable- or satellite-based services to strictly Internet features, including online movie rentals through offerings from Apple and Roku, TV shows hosted through Hulu and other TV networks' websites, and online multiplayer gaming.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    250GB? That's huge

    If you are using more than 10GB every day, then your use is beyond typical. AT

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Streaming Video, etc

    Skype, Netflix, TBS, these are all things that you are being encouraged to do online. IF they are going to charge you more, they have to be up front AND should spend the extra money on expanding their capabilities, not on a bonus with the guy who came up with charging the heavy users more money.

  1. Eldernorm

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    crooks that is all

    They complain about all the "dark fiber" cause no one will use the internet, then we start to and they want to change us for everything we do....

    Telephone use.... 45$
    each call over 25 per month 2$
    each conversation over 2 min. .50 cents per min.

    Its pretty hard to sell me on internet useage when you then want to charge me again, everytime I use it.

    I guess I will have to go back to just an internet provider and Vonage. ???

  1. Eldernorm

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    crooks that is all

    They complain about all the "dark fiber" cause no one will use the internet, then we start to and they want to change us for everything we do....

    Telephone use.... 45$
    each call over 25 per month 2$
    each conversation over 2 min. .50 cents per min.

    Its pretty hard to sell me on internet useage when you then want to charge me again, everytime I use it.

    I guess I will have to go back to just an internet provider and Vonage. ???

  1. repi8

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    bollocks

    This bloody comment system doesn't work! I've been unable to post a comment for no good reason. Why this one works I have no idea.

  1. rvhernandez

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    Reminds me of AOL

    Remember when AOL used to have plans by the minute? 200 minutes for 24.95! LOL

  1. ender

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    more infrastructure

    It's easy for some to say that they should "just build more infrastructure". But the disparity of bandwidth usage between the lowest-end users and highest is getting pretty huge these days. Continuing to charge everyone the same flat rate is NOT a sustainable business practice. Sooner or later bandwidth limits are going to have to come into play. Sure, I want the highest speed I can get so that when I'm downloading something, it arrives quickly. But my overall usage is microscopic compared to the users they are talking about. Yet we both pay the same monthly rate? Why should I have to pay for expanding the infrastructure if I'm not the one making it necessary?

    A sticking point is going to be net-neutrality rules vs cable's OnDemand services. If/when they start charging by usage, OnDemand will have a HUGE unfair advantage over the likes of iTunes, Netflix, etc, whose customers will have to pay for the movie AND the bandwidth whereas OnDemand users only have to pay for the movie because it's considered a TV service, not an internet service.

  1. Arty50

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Thieves

    I have a great idea. Why don't they take the $500-600 billion the American taxpayers gave them to build out their network and do something like say lay fiber to each home...you know...like Verizon is doing.

    I've always been happy with my AT&T service, billing, etc.; but for them to complain about this issue is just downright wrong.

  1. nhmlco

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    Upstream

    There's an easy solution that would have few consequences on most legitimate use: place a cap on UPSTREAM transmission and then charge for overages.

    This would have little impact on people downloading songs or movies from iTunes or watching YouTube videos, but would put a major dent in P2P filesharing.

    It would turn more people in leaches, which reduces the likelyhood of someone finding what they want, which in turn reduces the number of participants overall.

    How many people are going to be willing to pay out-of-pocket just so OTHER people can download "free" movies?

  1. resuna

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    In Australia

    In AUstralia they have a traffic cap, but hey do it by actually capping bandwidth when you go over quota... after you hit your cap you drop to 64k (ISDN) speeds until next month.

    I wouldn't mind paying a surcharge for a higher cap, but having it just happen without you knowing about it until the next bill? That's setting people up for megacharges.

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