The latest news on the broadband data caps trend is a new forthcoming AT&T unlimited data plan, which is tied to bundling U-verse or DirecTV video service. Monthly data allowances have been in place for AT&T broadband customers since 2011. Beginning May 23rd, those allowances will change and unlimited data options will be introduced.
AT&T Broadband Data Caps
Monthly data usage for U-verse customers started at 250 GB per month for their lowest speed tiers, and gradually moved to 1 TB, based on the customer’s speed tier. Gigabit customers for example were allotted 1 TB. Customers are charged additional fees for exceeding these caps after a warning and grace period.
Beginning May 23rd, U-verse Internet subscribers who also take either U-verse TV or DirecTV and sign up for a single bill, will now get unlimited data. Additionally, customers who don’t take advantage of the video bundle promotion, can pay an additional $30/month for unlimited data.
AT&T is also raising their monthly data allotments for all U-verse Internet subscribers, based on their speed tier. An AT&T spokesman provided Telecompetitor with the new data allotment plans:
- Those subscribers in the 768Kbps to 6Mbps speed tier range will have their data allotments increased to 300 GB/month from 250 GB/month
- Those subscribers in the 12Mbps to 75Mbps speed tier range will have their data allotments increased to 600 GB/month from 250 GB/month
- Those subscribers in the 100Mbps to 1Gbps speed tier range will have their data allotments increased to 1 TB/month from 500 GB/month
AT&T says their average U-verse Internet subscriber uses 100 GB/month. These new allotments only apply to U-verse Internet subscribers. An AT&T spokesman confirmed to Telecompetitor that legacy AT&T DSL subscribers will continue to be subject to a 150 GB/month cap, with no adjustments.
Broadband Data Caps Trend
Broadband data caps are one of the most controversial (and competitive) issues in the broadband industry today. Comcast has a similar broadband data cap policy in certain markets, and recently introduced a $30 monthly fee for unlimited data.
Some providers have chosen not to introduce data caps, with competitive implications weighing on that decision for sure. Verizon has no caps on Verizon FiOS service for example. New entrants like Google Fiber do not cap broadband usage either.
It’s a contentious issue for many reasons, one of which has to do with OTT video. Many broadband ISPs also offer traditional pay-TV service. Some argue, instituting broadband caps is one way to deter customers from dropping pay-TV in favor of OTT video.
Interestingly enough, AT&T is about to launch their own OTT video offer. They also offer a similar promotion for customers who subscribe to both AT&T wireless and DirecTV/U-verse video.