AT&T to implement bandwidth caps: Starts at 20GB per month


Looks like AT&T is on its way to implementing Time Warner-style bandwidth caps. Residents of Reno, Nev. will be the guinea pigs this time around, with AT&T looking to impose a 20GB per month bandwidth limit for its lowest tier of broadband service; bandwidth limits increase as you move up AT&T’s service pyramid. The limit tops out at 150GB per month when using the company’s 10 mbps broadband service.

We all know why AT&T is moving in this direction: in order to better serve its customers as a whole, AT&T needs to keep its eye on so-called bandwidth hogs.

As a bandwidth hog—I think I chew through 20GB of data in only a few days, especially if an inviting Blu-ray rip comes out—I am outraged. Unless you’re downloading movie after movie, there’s little chance you’ll download more than 150GB of data per month. That’s one way to look at it.

Put yourself in, say, Netflix’s shoes. Your new streaming service, which has been well-received so far, still only uses standard-def video. One day, when Netflix decides to flip the HD switch to “on” and people start burning through gigabytes of data on a daily basis, then what? Are Netflix and others like it beholden to these arbitrary limits imposed by AT&T, Time Warner and other telecos?

Seems to me the real issue is poor broadband infrastructure. Fix that, however that happens, and this problem—needing to limit bandwidth consumption—goes away.