AT&T will impose a 250GB data cap for users of its DSL service. The company says that, based on trials, it only expects that less than 2 percent of its users will be affected by the cap. If these people want to continue consuming more than 250GB per month they’ll have to pay for the privilege.
AT&T will sell additional bandwidth at 50GB increments for $10 a pop.
It takes all of two seconds to realize that this plan threatens services like Netflix or Steam. What happens when Netflix decides to make HD versions of its movies available? And by HD I mean 1080p; 720p is yesterday’s news. You think you’re going to be able to stream a couple of 1080p movies a week without brushing up against that 250GB cap pretty soon?
It’s the same thing with Steam. Total War: Shogun 2 comes out tomorrow, and it clocks in at around 20GB.
You can almost hear the life of these services being squeezed right out of them.
I do find it strange that AT&T has waited until now to impose a data cap, right when legitimate services have begun to click with the public. How many legitimate ways were there to download 250GB of data in, say, 2004? Compare that to today where, again, Netflix, Steam, Rdio, Spotify, iTunes, Roku, etc. are all vying for bandwidth.
Keep in mind that this is the same AT&T that donates money hand over fist to congressional campaigns, meaning that if you ever got the courage to write a letter to your congressman complaining about the company’s practices, well, it’s their cheques that are financing his or her very survival.