AT&T: DSL & U-verse Data Caps


[…] AT&T says it will implement a 150GB monthly cap on landline DSL customers and a 250GB cap on subscribers to U-Verse high speed internet starting on May 2nd.

If you enjoy watching a lot of YouTube videos in 1080p HD then you’ll need to watch your data usage, especially if you don’t want to pay an extra $10 for each additional 50GB. For AT&T DSL customers this data cap means you’re limited to about 5GB per day and a little more than 8GB per day for U-verse customers.

This is a thought experiment. In general, a 45-minute TV episode in 1080p can be crammed into a file about 5GB in size without much sacrifice in video quality. That translates to fifty 45-minute 1080p TV episodes per month with U-verse, and just 30 for DSL. If I watched a lot of TV over the Internet this decision by AT&T would piss me off. AT&T assures us that 98% of its DSL and U-verse customers won’t be affected by this data cap. What a bunch of BS.

I think iTunes HD movie and podcast downloads will dry up. Bloated magazines like Wired? At 500MB a pop becomes bandwidth expensive. A lot of us will hit a local Starbucks to download big stuff, but I reckon that won’t last long. Starbucks, McDonald’s, local coffee shops that offer free WiFi, etc. won’t be offering free WiFi anymore if they too have data caps and have to pay stiff overage fees.

To make heavy bandwidth users pay the extra $10, $20, or $50 in overage fees, AT&T decided to screw a lot of its customers. But this wasn’t a surprise: Comcast already has data caps. It was only a matter of time for AT&T. These two companies are monopolistic in many areas and decided to keep as much profits for themselves by not investing in capacity enhancements and forcing its customers to use less bandwidth. The US already ranks poorly when it comes to Internet connectivity, bandwidth, and pricing. AT&T, Comcast and others are making sure that we’ll keep ranking poorly now and in the future. As a comparison, our friends in South Korea enjoy 100Mbps speeds for just $20 per month. And there are no data caps.

Unfortunately data caps in the US has become a reality. I will do my part by focusing more and more on text and less on images and videos. I realize it’s a strange move by a blog focusing on displays but there are many advantages to more text. Here’s three: first, DisplayBlog should load pretty quickly and save you time. Second, reading DisplayBlog won’t eat up your bandwidth and save you money. Third, a text-centered blog will challenge me to write better, a good thing for me and you.

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