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Congestion Pricing Myths Exposed: A Guide to the ‘Bandwidth Crisis’ at AT&T (Or Anywhere Else)

AT&T's Fairy Tales of Broadband Congestion

Just a few days after Broadband Reports broke the news AT&T was imposing an Internet Overcharging scheme on its broadband customers, evidence continues to arrive illustrating the company’s planned usage limits are more about protecting their U-verse video business than actually controlling “heavy users.”

Dave Burstein, a well-known industry analyst who has tracked the broadband universe for years was so miffed about the nonsense he was reading in the Wall Street Journal, he picked up the phone and called the AT&T spokesperson who claimed the company was overburdened by heavy users:

Mark Siegal, AT&T’s top flack, hung up the phone on me when I said his comment to the Wall Street Journal was apparently a lie. It’s prohibitively unlikely their DSL cap “is to ensure the quality of the customer experience” necessary to solve “congestion in certain points of the network and interfering with other people’s access.” I’m certain that far less than 1% of the time do AT&T DSL customers have any impact from congestion. I’m pretty confident it’s less than 1/10th of 1% and probably less than 1/100th of 1%. My sources that wireline congestion on AT&T is minimal include statements from two CTOs of the company. Cheng, now a veteran in D.C., knew the comment was misleading at best. A mantra in D.C. is “wireline may not have congestion but wireless is different.” It was Sunday and perhaps hard to factcheck, but he’ll easily confirm the problem on Monday.

AT&T has long maintained they have a more robust network and cable is the one with “bandwidth hog” problems. But Comcast’s cap was 60% higher than AT&T and Comcast has said they will raise it. AT&T has gone 13 years without caps on their DSL network because they said they didn’t need them. Traffic growth is actually down slightly (Cisco, Odlyzko) so there’s only one reason to impose caps now: their video service, U-Verse, has become a $5B business. They don’t want people to be able to cut the cord and watch all their video over the net. 150 gigabytes is 40-80 hours of U-Verse quality TV, far less than the average U-Verse user watches.

In fact, AT&T is one of America’s largest Internet Service Providers, and maintains an important role in America’s Internet backbone.  As one of the largest providers, AT&T doesn’t worry about broadband traffic like a small wireless ISP does.  Its broadband pipes from the middle-mile to their nationwide network offers near limitless capacity thanks to fiber optic technology.  In fact, AT&T’s theoretical “bottlenecks” occur in the “last mile” of the network, from the phone company’s central switching offices or its interface between a fiber connection and the plain old copper wires that work their way into your home or business.

But first, a word about costs.

Dave Burstein

We have new evidence from both Burstein and the Internet Overcharging drama unfolding in Canada that providers literally pay pennies per gigabyte of traffic.  In fact, the broadband traffic customers generate represents only 2%-5% of what we pay for broadband in both countries.  Burstein uses some of Craig Moffett’s prolific comments in the media against his own argument for Internet Overcharging.  Moffett, a Wall Street analyst, is not alone when he reports broadband margins are as high as 90%, according to official company filings.  John Hodulik from UBS joins him.

Burstein gives providers’ argued need for increased investment to keep up with demand the benefit of the doubt and is willing to suggest profit margins at a reduced 75%.  In either case, running a large broadband network is a veritable license to print money in North America.  The costs to provide the service keep dropping, and providers keep on raising prices.

Burstein was generous with Comcast when he called their 250GB usage limit imposed in 2008 “fair.”  But as Stop the Cap! has argued, Comcast — like other Internet Overchargers — has not grown the cap over time, even as their costs decline.  In fact, customers are probably lucky the country’s largest cable operator hasn’t reduced it, as providers in Canada have done repeatedly. Burstein calls on Comcast to honor their promise and raise their cap.

Burstein also notes the rest of the world enjoys lower prices, more competition, and often faster service — with providers across the board still enjoying considerable profits.

But why not here?

America’s broadband market is a monopoly or duopoly in virtually every American city.  One cable operator and one telephone company deliver service to the vast majority of American broadband users.  Wireless providers are largely owned by legacy phone companies and strictly limit usage.  Without significant competition, providers can raise prices at will and milk profits to sustain their balance sheets even as other business divisions suffer from a downturned economy or shifting cultural changes.  The “landline” is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and cable television provided by cable and phone companies could face cord cutting from consumers watching their favorite shows over their broadband connections.

Broadband service carries up to a 90 percent profit margin

Burstein tracks the business model:

15 gigabytes/month: The average (mean) user in the U.S., per Cisco’s respected VNI survey and numerous comments from the major companies.

Going Down: Bandwidth usage growth per customer. The rate has been about 30% per year, with the rate slightly falling the last few years. The growth in average usage is actually going down slightly, per Cisco VNI and the MINTS data of Professor Andrew Odlyzko.

Going Down: Capital investment required. In 2009, AT&T cut U-Verse by 1/3rd. In 2010, Verizon cut FiOS by 2/3rds. John Stankey of AT&T has said they will cut U-Verse much further after this year. Fran Shammo of Verizon says “Wireline will continue to come down year over year.” Cablecos have been dropping capex as a % of sales and often in absolute dollars. According to a recent survey by Heavy Reading, 70% of the cable networks have been upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0 already. There’s no significant capital spending beyond that at least until mid-decade. The Columbia University CITI report to the broadband plan aggregated analysts forecast and predicted a drop in overall capital spending on broadband, particularly in wireline. The primary capital spending for wired broadband is behind us, with few significant network buildouts in the next five years or longer.

Going Up: Profit Margins. Prices for broadband have generally been going up in the U.S. since 2007 while costs drop. Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and most others have raised their broadband prices and ARPU. They also have (modestly) raised the prices of triple play including broadband, according to Dave Barden of Bank of America. Capex is dropping pretty dramatically while other operating costs are also falling. Customer support costs have gone down as few new customers (who need more support) are added. Modems and other gear continue dropping in price. Costs down, prices up = higher profits. Both Stankey and Shammo pointed to improved margins.

AT&T DSL (left) vs. AT&T U-verse (right): Hunting season on customers of both is now open.

AT&T argues their usage caps are less about the money and more about dealing with network congestion.  But does that play out?

AT&T has a convenient argument to use, which several journalists have come to believe gives the company a track record of being victimized by “heavy users.”  Namely, their network congestion brought about by the flood of iPhone users on AT&T Mobility’s cellular network.  Even if a reporter does not understand the profound differences between a wired and wireless broadband network, they have heard about AT&T’s problems coping with their wireless traffic.

In short, the company underestimated demand from its exclusive deal with Apple for the wildly popular phone, and refused to invest adequately to mitigate overcongested cities.  Instead, it spent millions lobbying for permission to “manage” the traffic with artificially-slowed speeds, usage limits, confiscatory overlimit penalties, and even some equipment to offload wireless users onto home broadband connections (for which AT&T still deducts airtime and data usage from your wireless allowance.)  Robust Wi-Fi also tries to drive customers off of AT&T’s inadequate 3G network.

For home broadband users who will be affected by AT&T’s Internet Overcharging scheme, let’s break them into two separate categories: DSL customers who face a 150GB cap and U-verse customers who will get a 250GB allowance.

AT&T DSL is a legacy product dependent on traditional copper wire phone lines.  Available in many areas unserved by U-verse, this technology typically provides up to 6Mbps service — often slower, sometimes higher.  The distance between the phone company office and one’s home usually determines what speeds customers receive.  In rural areas, 1-3Mbps is often typical.  In some urban areas, higher speeds are sometimes possible.  DSL is not a “shared” technology like cable broadband.  Each DSL customer has their own line between their home and central office (or remote repeater).  From there, a connection from the central office to AT&T’s backbone is made over a middle mile network.

AT&T U-verse VRADs (a/k/a 'lawn refrigerators') in Houston, Tex. (Courtesy: Swapdisk)

But AT&T’s DSL customers are already constrained by the reduced speeds DSL provides them.  It is unlikely a customer with 3Mbps DSL service is going to present much of a traffic challenge to a multi-billion dollar company unless they purposely under-invest in network upgrades.

Where congestion does exist, it occurs at the central office — usually because the company inadequately provisioned a sufficiently large data pipe to handle the traffic.  Since these circuits are increasingly fiber-based, congestion issues disappear when AT&T uses technology from this century instead of the last.

AT&T argues heavy users are overburdening their DSL lines, but their prescription makes no sense.  The company says, despite the alleged traffic jam, it is more than willing to sell users additional capacity for $10 per 50GB increment.  If AT&T’s aim was to cut congestion, they would be unwilling to sell additional capacity they don’t have to customers who need it.

A usage cap on AT&T’s new U-verse platform makes even less sense and opens a political minefield.

When one pushes away the promotional and marketing glitz AT&T provides when pitching U-verse, you are left looking at just one thing — a high speed broadband connection.  AT&T’s entire platform of television, phone, and broadband all resides on that single, super-speed broadband pipeline.

AT&T has built this super fast pipe with a combination of fiber optic cables and copper phone wires.  It uses fiber, which doesn’t degrade with distance the way copper wire connections do, to reduce the amount of copper phone wiring between your home and AT&T.  With this “fiber to the neighborhood” approach, AT&T can create a robust pipeline which can accommodate multiple television channels, a phone line, and your broadband connection all running concurrently.

AT&T only seeks to limit one part of that connection, however: the broadband service you could theoretically use to bypass AT&T’s television and phone service in favor of another provider.  It’s the same platform — only the services are different.

AT&T claims network congestion is a problem for U-verse as well, which is a controversial claim to make considering AT&T designed U-verse with excess capacity that goes unused to this day.

What does AT&T’s U-verse network look like?

AT&T’s regional offices maintain watch over their U-verse network of TV, Internet, and phone services.  This portion of the network is entirely fiber-based.  From there, fiber extends to individual central offices, part of the company’s middle-mile network.  AT&T’s fiber journey typically ends at large metal cabinets strategically placed in different neighborhoods.  These “Video Ready Access Devices” (VRADs) are probably familiar to you if you live in an AT&T area.  Sometimes derided as “lawn refrigerators,” the huge metal cabinets contain the interface between the fiber optic network and the copper wire telephone lines running to your home.

It’s this “choke point” AT&T tries to claim as a point of congestion.  If enough customers use their connection at the same time, it can “overburden” the network.  But can it, really?

Early adopters of U-verse pestered AT&T engineers about the network as it was constructed and learned a lot about it.

Phil Karn has been a U-verse customer since November 2009 and has become an expert on how his U-verse service works, and importantly how it holds back a considerable amount of available bandwidth.

An AT&T engineer “tried to tell me that the network equipment was like the engine in a sports car. You don’t want to drive it at the red line all the time because that will wear it out. I don’t know if he was told to use that analogy or if he came up with it on his own, but needless to say it’s a pretty silly one. And completely inapplicable,” Karn shares on his website.

He then claimed, rather weakly, that backhaul capacity considerations from the VRAD limit how much can be offered to each individual subscriber. This argument might even have begun to hold water except for the numbers he then provided. The VRADs, he said, are connected by 10 gigabit Ethernet over fiber, and each VRAD serves upwards of 200 homes. Let’s see…10 gigabits over 200 homes is 50 megabits per home. My [U-Verse] link runs at 32.2Mbps.

The whole point is that it doesn’t really matter how fast or slow the backhaul from the VRAD may be. With modern Internet routers and priority [Quality of Service] mechanisms, there is no reason to force capacity to remain idle when a user could be using it. Not unless, of course, you’re trying to maintain the public impression that broadband capacity is really scarce and expensive.


In fact, because few Internet users fully drive their broadband connections on a continuous basis, it can be argued that continuous video streams delivered to television sets left on in the homes of U-verse customers for hours at a time present a bigger “congestion” problem for AT&T, at least at this point in their network.  But the company has no plans to limit television viewing — only their broadband Internet service.

U-verse is AT&T’s answer to slow speed DSL, and part of how the company intends to stay relevant as landline customers depart.  But the company’s business plan depends on a certain percentage of customers subscribing to their pricey television service.  Should AT&T’s broadband customers decide to stop paying for television service, watching everything online instead, that threatens a $5 billion dollar business.

Burstein predicted this scenario when he discussed it with former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin:

“In 2005, Kevin Martin discussed with me the issue of what he would do if AT&T favored U-verse. I believe he felt he would have to act, but at that point hoped competition would prevent him from facing that decision. Now AT&T’s multi-million dollar über-lobbyist Jim Cicconi has presumably told them [current FCC Chairman] Julius Genachowski is sufficiently under control he won’t do anything about this.”

In the end, many of AT&T’s arguments simply are incoherent.  If only a small handful of AT&T customers are creating such a dilemma for the company it has to inconvenience every customer with a usage limit, AT&T has a much larger problem to contend with.  Furthermore, the company’s existing acceptable use policy already includes provisions for dealing with users that create problems on their network, all without bothering everyone else.

Currently there are 17 comments on this Article:

  1. me says:

    The following site details one of the many reasons why there is a design problem of congestion.


    The net was designed to take this sort errant behavior of one user into account. We have however put so much ‘buffer’ into the system it makes everyone’s connection slow. Which breaks the load balancing alg’s involved.

    Now the business people have gotten involved and figured out they can charge up the wazzoo and make some dosh on the side instead of fixing the REAL issues at hand. Then legislating our way out of a problem will not fix it. Caps do not fix it. QoS special customers will not fix it. Greed is in the mix now. It will be hard to fix the real problem.

  2. Austin says:

    Finally an article that focuses in on my main arguments.

    ADSL/VDSL networks cant physically have “last mile” congestion.

    TV data on the AT&T Uverse network NEEDS to count in the cap if they cap.

    10gbps to each VRAD….

    Allows 50mbps to each house, thats way more than most VDSL lines can even provision at.

    My line runs at 31mbps, and I use the 18mbps internet only plan.

    Physically impossible to have congestion…..

    And thats assuming 100% of the people on that VRAD are running their line at 100% at the same exact time, you still wont have ANY issues.

    This is PURE GREED. AT&T we see right through you on this one.

  3. jr says:

    AT&T has an executive pay crisis

  4. Matt says:

    Wow! – We’re being gouged on practically every front!

    Between the tax hikes, sky-rocketing gas prices, and now this; AT&T couldn’t have picked a worse time to impose this on us. I must say that the consumer/American citizen couldn’t be more screwed.

    What about those of us who work from home and require heavy amounts of bandwidth?

    Verizon FIOS or Time Warner’s Wideband can’t get to Austin, TX fast enough!


  5. Skipperdoo says:

    I’m not entirely sure if I’m doing this correctly, but here are some quick calculations I did on how much of a gouge that is..

    so let’s say a $69.99 package has a 150Gb cap

    150/ 70 ~~ $2.14 per Gb

    and AT&T buys Bandwidth for Pennies

    let’s say it’s $0.02 per Gb for them

    2.14 / .02 =
    1.07 / .01 = 107.00


    10,700% profit margin, unless I’m mistaken

  6. James Karvey says:

    So what do we do about it? How do we get ATT to change its mind?

    Don’t tell me to go to stopthecap.com because they just tell you to talk to your government reps (who don’t listen – I know), to call the local media outlets (jeez), etc. I don’t blame stopthecap for trying but frankly ATT is holding all the cards and all the politicians.

    • We are following the same action plan as last time. First, expose the lies, educate consumers, and get them to realize how unjustified this really is. Then, we organize. In this case, we’ll be recommending people prepare to cancel their service (where alternatives exist) and make sure to inform the representative exactly why you are leaving. Second, we’ll be looking to try and revive something akin to the Massa bill to help draw attention to this. We are also hoping since we don’t live in an AT&T service area that enough of you will be educated to talk to your local media.

      TV news is critical to this pushback. It will draw politicians when the issue reaches critical mass. At that point, things start to get out of control for providers. They will be trying to propagandize this, but consumer-oriented media will be drawn more to local protests and consumer action while the business press allows unchallenged provider claims to be prattled on and on in the echo chamber.

      I want you to remember Canadians, who are normally less political than Americans (the Canadian media says so anyway) erupted into a firestorm over this same issue and forced providers to back off (for the moment). AT&T is always the most obnoxious company to deal with because they honestly don’t care what consumers think. But they care very much about their legislative agenda being derailed. Net Neutrality never achieved critical mass because too few net users understood the implications. But people despise usage caps, especially on broadband accounts that have been going up and up in price.

      It’s okay to be discouraged about these reports — we were ourselves. But we’ll be working on alternatives to at least try and help get people out from under the caps while they fight back.

    • Ron Dafoe says:

      You stop or reduce services that you receive from them. I know it is hard. When TWC said they were going to implement caps here in Rochester, I immediatly called them and dropped telephone service from them. I also told them why I was dropping the service. I made it clear that I would go with a different internet provider if caps where implimented.

      I know that some areas cannot go to a different provider, but there other alternatives that AT&T for phone and TV.

      Money talks with companies. The more people reduce services or cancel services the more they re-think what they are doing.

  7. ATX512 says:

    Well I can tell you what I’m going to do. I’ll be dropping my basic U100 UverseTV service since the HD quality is sub-par to everything I’ve ever seen delivered via coax or satellite, and that’s a big negative in my book. I’ll go back to my OTA antenna and QAM tuner for free local/basic HD channels (and better PQ). Forget the fluff/expanded channels, I barely watch UverseTV as it is. Can you guess where I actually get my TV fix…? Yep, that’s right, via the internet.

    I haven’t decided if I even want to keep my Uverse internet service either (upgraded speed to 18/1.5). Last time I checked it was still the fastest I could get to my home (Austin, TX) and I wouldn’t feel TOO bad using up their pipe just for “internet data” – but I would definitely start having to monitor my usage (and my room mates apparently? I guess I’m his father now, too – thanks AT&T). I could hit the 250GB cap within the first week or two if I’m not careful. I would giggle to myself, knowing that they are trying to coerce me to keep using UverseTV; I mean, we all know that the caps are coming because they are afraid of services such as Netflix and Hulu that don’t net them any extraneous profits (I guess it’s just too bad for us that the cap affects WAY more than just sole video data being moved over the wire). Effectively, yes, we are bypassing your TV service AT&T, and that is completely within our rights. This is fine with me and everyone else because it’s now common knowledge that we can stream the entertainment that we want to watch in equal-to-higher quality than what you can provide – albeit now more consciously deciding what is “worth” the gigs and what isn’t, which sucks no matter how you look at it. And guess what AT&T, you gave us that ability! Bravo on tripping over your own two feet. Some people have become outraged because this cap will literally change their “unlimited” Netflix service into a “limited” service…artificially forced by the likes of AT&T and their corporate goons. If they truly wanted to maintain any sort of customer base for their TV service, they would actually improve (I know that word is alien to them) their quality of service by, oh I don’t know, listening to their customers and watching their viewing/spending habits. If UverseTV was as affordable or offered the subscriber what they wanted (clearly streaming media services do) they would actually stand to gain some subscribers instead of losing them. The funny thing is, this is completely within the realm of possibility – but AT&T is SO greedy that they do not want to spend any money to improve their services beyond minimal, mostly-useless ‘features’ here and there. In fact, not a single thing has been added since I have had the service that is worthy of remembrance. A free month of HBO/Showtime doesn’t count in my opinion.

    Let me be clear that I at least speak from experience. I was on the “waiting list” for Uverse service here quite some time, and bought it up as soon as it rolled out. I have been using it ever since, 2-3 years at least. After experiencing firsthand UverseTV for 3 years, I can understand why people don’t want it. From sub-par HD quality, to being unable to get real 5.1ch sound for a LONG time after it launched, to picture freezing/stuttering on TVs (yet the internet was solid or at least seemed so from an end-users perspective). Then add in the fact that a large portion of their Customer Service Agents are either rude, unwilling to help, or just flat out don’t know what they’re talking about.

    So, I REALLY want to ditch them entirely – you see, it’s just the principal of the damned thing. Now, I’ve had TWC at several places I’ve lived over the years with a few problems intermittent problems (with both companies it always comes back to terrible customer service and/or somewhat-incompetent service techs) but nothing this drastic has ever been thrust down my goblet. I feel like AT&T is tightening their monopolistic grip on us once again. Something really needs to be done about them and the way they run things – from flat-out lying to their subscribers about the reasoning behind the caps, to inflating the prices on their packages constantly, with literally no real explanation. I’ve received (just recently) a shady, intentionally-vague postcard in the mail stating that they are adjusting prices +$5/mo. to reflect market value of their services. What? I haven’t seen any improvement at all to the quality of my services since the initial public deployment of the network, additional junk TV channels not included (they pulled some too!). The fiber has been laid, and there is less expenditure to cover their hardware costs on all fronts, and now I’ve been reading about how so very little they actually pay per GB transferred and it’s disgusting what we are being charged. Not to mention we all signed contracts at one time for “unlimited” bandwidth. As a matter of fact, AT&T Uverse’ own website STILL says that they won’t limit your bandwidth. I’d be willing to bet that they are going to lure in new unsuspecting subscribers – intentional or not – under the guise of “unlimited bandwidth” until the very last minute and then change their Terms of Service and enable caps and metering. I don’t know enough about the law to make any kind of real guess to how this major ToS change is happening and whether it’s really legal or not. All I know is that the terms of a contract should be binding to both parties at least until it expires, and if for some reason changes MUST be made, then the affected subscriber be allowed to abandon the contract without penalty. There’s entirely too much wordplay and intentional vagueness these days for anyone to be able to make heads or tails of what all they’re actually signing into. I generalize, but I think the majority would be in agreeance.

    Today, they are just straight up lying to the face of their entire subscriber base; not that they haven’t before, but this is more drastic than a small price hike. I knew it was a bunch of bologna when I first read the article on DSLR. Yet, so far, they’ve gotten away with it. It’s time to stick it to them and if they refuse to listen to their own customers, then I suggest you lead by example and speak with your wallet as I plan on doing. Because as they say, money talks – bullshit walks.

    Viva la Revolución!

    /end rant, apologies for the WOT as I do tend to ramble about things I feel strongly about 🙂

    I leave ya’ll with some interesting food for thought: What do you think about this little excerpt from AT&T’s new Uverse ToS?


    Effective 5/1/11, your U-verse Voice and TV General Terms of Service are being updated. The updated Terms require the use of arbitration on an individual basis to resolve disputes, rather than jury trials or class actions, and also limit the remedies available to you in the event of a dispute. Additionally, the updated Terms include other important changes.

    Please SCROLL DOWN for details of the upcoming changes.

    NOTE: Your continued use of your U-verse services after 5/1/11 constitutes acceptance of all changes in the updated Terms. ”

    I suggest you read the whole ToS, or at least scroll down to the very large red (updated) part.


  8. Leesa says:

    What really tweaks my nose out of shape with this latest boondoggle is we live in an area where we haven’t got a choice. It’s either AT&T DSL or satellite, the latter of which is much more expensive and much poorer quality.

    We’re on DSL now, highest package. I couldn’t upgrade to U-verse if I wanted to, nor could I upgrade to a business package. Neither is available where I live.

    I would have to literally move up the block to get cable service and they have no plan to expand.

    Both of us are on disability so the Internet provides us with our primary entertainment, not to mention serious interests being served, such as writing and art. My roommate is a writer, and I am a writer and a 3D virtual world artist. We also maintain quite a few personal relationships via the Internet that we couldn’t have, otherwise.

    What I want to know is if I can be grandfathered, especially considering that I’ve been a customer here since 2006 and I have literally no choice in service, either within AT&T or without.

    I’m already paying them over $60 a month and that is supposed to be unlimited and now they want to cap it? CMON. I can’t use your stupid TV service. Don’t cap me because you don’t have your U-verse network out quite this far.

  9. Brieldo says:

    I’ve read Stopthecap for years and have always been a lurker in the comments section, however, this article struck me as so poignant, I had to say something.

    As a consumer, I’m fed up with big telecom. I will continue to do my part by making a conscious decision to not pay for overpriced cable tv services, while using my internet connection to take a much action as I can to educate people about how badly they’re being screwed by companies like AT&T.

    It’s time the consumer had a voice and time that voice is heard.

    • I appreciate your comments. People leaving comments on the stuff that gets written here is very important to me because it means I know agree or disagree, at least people are reading. When articles are posted that took hours to research, fact-check, assemble, edit, and proof-read, getting zero response can be a downer because I am not paid to sit and write the articles here.

      There is some planning going on behind the scenes at the moment to take on AT&T, so people need to stick around as we try and organize what will come next. I was reading one news report on Monday that claimed AT&T’s move was greeted by silence by consumers — proof in that reporter’s mind the caps were not egregious and people were fine with them.

      Time Warner’s usage caps didn’t prompt an enormous response during the first few hours either. Looking at the hundreds of people who have been filling my e-mail box looking for information on how to cancel AT&T service and go somewhere else makes it clear to me if they follow-through, AT&T will start to notice.

  10. Michael says:

    It’s unfortunate that these greedy corporations don’t have to compete and therefore provide decent services for reasonable prices. Until there is true competition, these companies are always going to be able to do whatever they want. I’m currently trying to find out what my alternatives are for switching away from AT&T. Right now, I have DirecTV for tv and AT&T Uverse for phone and internet. I live in Muncie, IN, and I don’t believe Verizon has FIOS here, yet. Comcast is available, but they are as bad if not worse than AT&T, and they have caps, too. I would really hate to have to switch to them just to send a message to AT&T.

  11. Greg says:

    I wish there was something we could do that actually AFFECTS at&t. I can’t switch ISP because there’s no other in my area. I e-mailed my local new channel, but who knows if that’s going to do any good. I’ve made a few post on the actual at&t forums, but they are edited/deleted by the moderators. I can only hope that one day Verizon will move into my neighborhood.

  12. Will says:

    Actually the VRAD backhaul is GbE (GigE) and the Uverse IPTV is IP multicast.

  13. TK says:

    AT&T’s customer service needs to start hearing complaint calls not only directly about the capping, but obnoxious calls about “will you credit my account for the wasted usage of my broken/aborted download that I had to restart?” This would be a good call for anyone who has a download interupted and needs to start over, whether it is large or small.

    (When someone complains about a small download being interupted, they will sound like someone who don’t know what a gigabyte is, and that is just fine, as a lot of people really don’t know. It would be great if they hear these calls for both gigabyte and megabyte downloads.)

    Another great idea is to call support to ask for advice on ad blocking software to block those bandwidth wasting ads that appear on web pages, especially the ones rude enough to play video.

    We the users need to collectively waste the time of support personnel on complaints about the cap and petty complaints and questions about wasted bandwidth. Hopefully AT&T will get sick of it when their support lines get full of calls about metering and bandwidth waste and conservation that people with real support problems have long holds, and then they will decide its not worth metering bytes.

    Oh, and they need to hear from the public utility regulators about timeliness and accuracy of meters. Any meters need to be as accurate and timely as our electric, gas, and water meters. AT&T indicates they will take up to four days to update a customer’s meter and they have been caught being outright inaccurate in the wireless arena.

    • Scott says:

      AT&T has now changed their terms making them able to terminate your services should you “harrass”, “abuse”, or otherwise contact them after being warned not to…

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  • John: If Starlink and OneWeb deliver on the promise that their internet service from space will be comparable to ground based fiber optic cable, with speeds...
  • Dylan: Definitely for the better. Expect more companies to follow as soon as cord cutting ramps up further....
  • Dylan: Windstream is barely alive as is. Besides. I would be switching to Charter Spectrum if Windstream was declaring bankruptcy and trying to reorganize an...
  • karen: Please HELP ... how do we get rid of the annoying advertising for Spectrum's on Demand show LA's Finest!! I am tired of it showing up on our TVlineu...
  • Lee: And all 1000 property owners approached with an offer for a cell tower should hire a law firm that specializes in cell phone tower contracts. To avoid...
  • Kenneth Richner: I have a choice of two ISP where I live Frontier is one Vito is the other neither are reliable but Zito at least has 100 and 200 Meg speeds available!...
  • L. Nova: Time to bring the guillotines to the U.S....
  • Phillip Dampier: Folks, all of these flat indoor antennas, regardless of brand, are not going to work miracles. An outdoor antenna will always work better but if you d...

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