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AT&T Tells Customers $30 Extra for Unlimited Internet is Good News (for AT&T)

Phillip Dampier March 30, 2016 AT&T, Broadband "Shortage", Consumer News, Data Caps, Online Video 12 Comments

fat cat attAT&T has indirectly announced it will enforce hard data caps on its U-verse broadband service for the first time, imposing overlimit fees for customers that exceed their allowance unless they agree to pay $30 extra a month for a new unlimited add-on plan.

AT&T’s Consumer Blog announced effective May 23, AT&T was increasing the usage allowances on its DSL and U-verse broadband service and is introducing a new $30 unlimited option for broadband-only customers many actually had all along because AT&T never enforced its cap for U-verse.

Customers currently bundling video and data services from AT&T/DirecTV will get a break – the unlimited option will apply at no extra charge if you agree to a single, combined bill for all of your AT&T services. The decision to apply usage caps to broadband-only customers, often cord-cutters, while effectively exempting current U-verse TV/DirecTV video customers is sure to raise eyebrows.

AT&T originally told customers its usage caps were designed “to ensure it is providing a sustainable network to customers.”  But in a company FAQ, AT&T destroys its own argument for the need to cap anyone. “Will offering unlimited data negatively impact the AT&T network? No. AT&T will continue to actively manage the network to handle the increasing demand for data.”

AT&T’s need for data caps is also eroded by company claims only a small percentage of customers exceed them.

Why caps again?

Why caps again?

“Today, our home Internet customers use just over 100GB of data per month on average,” AT&T wrote. “So even with our smallest U-verse Internet data allowance of 300 GB the average customer has plenty of data to do more.”

At least for now.

A review of AT&T’s past average usage claims is revealing. In 2011, AT&T told Tom’s Hardware the average customer consumed about 18GB a month. In 2015, AT&T’s cached support site claimed average customers used around 35GB a month. As of this week, AT&T says average users now exceed 100GB a month. If AT&T decides not to regularly revisit allowances (AT&T took five years to revisit the subject this week, having introduced 150GB caps on DSL and 250GB on U-verse in 2011), customers are likely to face pressure to sign up for the $30 unlimited add-on or buy television service from AT&T to avoid overlimit charges that will top out at $200 in penalties for DSL customers, $100 for U-verse overlimit fees.

average usage

Beginning May 23, AT&T’s website will include a data usage meter to help avoid AT&T’s overlimit penalty: $10 for each 50GB increment one exceeds their allowance. AT&T claims only 4% of its customers will exceed their future data allowances. They wouldn’t say how many exceed the current ones.

Because U-verse customers have avoided AT&T’s usage caps in the past, the company is now reminding customers it will give several warnings before you experience bill shock:

  • In the first bill cycle when you reach 100% of your data allowance, AT&T will update you via email, but there will be no charges.
  • In the second bill cycle, AT&T will notify you via email at 65%, 90%, and 100%, and still without charges.
  • In the third bill cycle, and each bill cycle thereafter, you’ll receive reminder emails at 65% and 90%. At 100% AT&T will notify you and add an additional 50GB of data to your account for $10 each time you exceed the allowance. Customers will receive reminders about their data usage for the additional 50GB at 75% and 100%.

All usage — including uploads and downloads — counts towards the cap. There is just one exception. Wireless traffic from an AT&T MicroCell, designed to boost weak cell signals inside the home, is not included in AT&T’s Internet data usage allowance. To help ensure accurate billing, you have to register your AT&T MicroCell account and residential AT&T Internet account.

Here are the new data allowances that will take effect May 23rd:

monthly data allowance

DSL Reports’ Karl Bode is skeptical of the “consumer benefits” AT&T is touting as part of the change:

That last bit is a fairly transparent ploy to address a spike in cord cutting at AT&T — by forcing customers into signing up for television services they may not actually want if they want to avoid usage restrictions. Whether using arbitrary caps to force users to sign up for TV technically violates net neutrality (either the FCC’s rules or the concept in general) is something that’s likely to be hotly debated.

It’s also curious that just as AT&T indicates it’s backing away from U-Verse TV (which should technically free up more bandwidth on the AT&T network), it’s implementing caps on a network it originally stated didn’t need caps thanks to “greater capacity.” That’s because as with Comcast, caps really aren’t about capacity or financial necessity, they’re about protecting traditional TV revenue from Internet video. At the end of the day, AT&T’s just charging $30 a month (or more) for the same service, while trying to frame it as a net positive for consumers.

Currently there are 12 comments on this Article:

  1. Joe V says:

    When I had AT&T, more than a few times I would get into heated arguments with them about the usage fees. I told them that when I am not home the modem is turned off YET I was charged for usage. They’ve backed off quickly because they knew that their “meter” was nothing more than price gouging at my expense.

    This is why google fiber and municipal broadband is taking off despite the big ISPs protesting They know that NO ONE wants usage- based billing and data caps but to satisfy the ever mounting greed of investors and wall street the public be damned unless there’s a public backlash.

    I don’t get with wall street and these f**king banks, shareholders and the rest of these scumbags. It isn’t enough that they already make huge profits. These greed is never ending with these people.

  2. Joe V says:

    this makes me wish I still had Verizon.

    Because despite all the other faults the company has, Verizon has NEVER EVER imposed and still does not wish to impose usage-based billing on their last mile wireline subscribers.

    I absolutely loathe both AT&T and Comcast for doing this. Wall street is essentially giving the entire country the collective middle finger and laughing while doing it.

  3. Joe V says:

    How much more are we as the public going to continue to tolerate?
    I’m just wondering when are we going to collectively hit the streets and protest the unending greed of wall street that all of these companies answer to?

    This current system we are living is not working anymore. Whether you agree with me or not, I am GLAD that Sanders and Trump are taking the wrecking ball to each one of the parties, calling out the system for what it is, upsetting the status quo and pissing off all the HAVES who have almost everything. They are nervous. They should be. I am glad that both the republican and democratic establishments are in panic mode. Most people including myself see it as they are getting exactly what they f**king deserve. I hate to say it but it’s the truth : our government, the people we elected, the wealthy, all of them have failed us. It is US versus them and they have shown us that they don’t give a sh*t. They do not care about us.

  4. William A says:

    DSL Extreme people! Philip D wrote about them before and I switched to them. If you have ATT Uverse you can switch to DSL extreme. They are an ATT reseller but they have NO Data caps! Same service no caps!

  5. Joey says:

    I’m an ATT uverse customer and only have internet with them. Unfortunately I live in a rural area and ATT is the only place that provides internet access which took me a year to even get. I recently received this notice form them for the new data allowances and have to say I am furious. I view it as a punishment, either bundle direct TV with us or else pay an additional 30 dollars for unlimited internet. Currently I have DISH for television, there is no cable service, and will have to drop DISH, thankfully that 2 year contract is up, or pay ATT’s new extortion fee. Well I don’t want to pay the extortion fees, so sorry DISH ATT has just stole my business away from you because of ATT’s monopoly on internet service where I live. I have no choice but to do the ATT bundle. This seems completely fraudulent to me and I will be happy to jump on any class action lawsuits against ATT. DISH you better take action or you will lose a lot of customers with ATT’s new forced policy.

    • Hoss says:

      Same here…. I live in a rural area, and ATT is the ONLY internet provider where I live. Signed up for their fastest available plan which I have continued to use for the past 5 years. Only to have them turn around and give me a data cap suddenly out of the blue, and start charging me extra for going over my new data cap that I haven’t had until this year. This blows. They just do whatever they want, and I have no choice but to take it. Screw you at&t.. I hope somebody does start a class action, and if you do… please include me in that.

  6. Mike says:

    I agree. You should not be charged for anything you did not ask for. I have 2 antennas in my attic and I get 3 to 4 channels on each television stations now that they are digital plus some stations further away the were not available on analog signals. There seems to be a federal regulaton that your data allowance must allow free streaming of Netflix and Hulu, so 6MBS should be enough at the rate that they advertise for new customers in your area. If you do not get the rate you wish, ask for the retention specialist or switch to a different internet provider (perhaps each year). Watch for any small print in the advertisements.

  7. gene corpus says:

    ANY LAWYERS OUT THERE…??….I am willing to sign up for a good lawyer who is willing to sue the hell out of at&t…..for coercion……blackmail….extortion….and operating a monopoly….restricting other internet companies from providing service to my area……and whatever other charges we can sue them for….on a contingency of course…..contact me any time………

  8. Dave says:

    Well, the fact is they improved their services and offers different packages at reasonable prices which is the main factor of increasing the demand of their brand in market.

  9. judye says:

    Since the cell phones came out I have had AT&;T……could that be 20 years? Also got a discount per my employer benefits, with that option went in to get new phone and was told I could not have unlimited data unless I switched to Dish TV…I told them this was a Monopoly and would no longer do business with them. Told them to cancel my service, but was told to call 611…walked out and before I did the 611 cancelation the rep in the store had cancelled which blocked me from porting my business line over to the new provider.

    Got a new service and a new phone number and was very upset as I had lost my 20 year plus business number…..soooooo ok what to do….

    Called AT&;T and ask for the welcome back option…x4.. and told them I wanted to come back…
    okay they connected me and I got my number back………….well…..went to the new provider and exchanged the new phone and told them I now had my business number connected and to port it over to the new phone………………YEAHiiiiiiii I BEAT AT& T AT THEIR OWN GAME…..

    Really like my new cell phone ,,,company has the same person there to see when needed instead of the poor service of a new person every time I went into AT&T….also very rude reps…

    Happy with SPRINT SAVED OVER 100.00 DOLLARS, GREAT SERVICE……THANKS AT&T







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