Back in May of this year I surmised that despite the rancor and fuss regarding broadband carriers’ use of bandwidth caps, the issue has pretty much already been decided. Those caps, where broadband carriers put limits on the amount of bandwidth subscribers can consume in any given month, are today’s reality.

So it’s not surprising to hear that CenturyLink appears to be joining this trend. is reporting that CenturyLink will soon be instituting broadband caps on their DSL customers. According to the report, 1.5 Mbps (or below) DSL tier subscribers will face a monthly 150 GB bandwidth cap. Subscribers with tiers above 1.5 Mbps will see a 250 GB cap.

CenturyLink joins a growing list of broadband carriers with similar broadband cap strategies, including AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Frontier, Charter, Suddenlink, and others. Verizon is still holding out, with no announced plans for bandwidth caps.

One area which is less uniform is what to do about the bandwidth ‘hogs’ that exceed these caps. Some of these providers offer either warnings or politely suggest that the subscriber in question upgrade their Internet connection to a higher tier with more monthly cap allotment. Others will throttle down an Internet connection until the month is over. Some also say they will suspend repeat offenders.

A few, AT&T included, have announced policies of charging subscribers additional fees for excess broadband usage – $10 for an additional 50 GB in AT&T’s case. This approach follows the wireless industry, where most carriers charge for excess broadband usage over monthly allotments – metered broadband if you will. CenturyLink doesn’t appear to be headed in this direction — at least not yet.

While the issue has pretty much been decided, particularly among larger tier one carriers, I still hear considerable debate regarding the practice among smaller tier 3 providers. Some will argue no caps creates a competitive advantage for them, while others are adopting the practice. My sense is most smaller carriers are still trying to decide which approach is more appropriate for them, with less consensus than larger carriers appear to have.



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