Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 30, 2016 - 12:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: U-Verse, opinion, isp, Internet, FTTN, FTTH, editorial, data cap, AT%26T
AT&T U-Verse internet users will soon feel the pain of the company's old school DSL users in the form of enforced data caps and overage charges for exceeding new caps. In a blog post yesterday, AT&T announced plans to roll out new data usage caps for U-Verse users as well as a ('Comcastic') $30 per month option for unlimited data use.
Starting on May 23, 2016 AT&T U-Verse (VDSL2 and Gigapower/Fiber) customers will see an increase to their usage allowance based on their speed tier. Currently, U-Verse FTTN customer have a 250 GB cap regardless of speed tier while FTTH customers in its Gigapower markets have a higher 500 GB cap. These caps were soft caps and not enforced meaning that customers were not charged anything for going over them. That will soon change, and all U-Verse customers will be charged for going over their cap at a rate of $10 for every 50 GB over the cap. (e.g. Even if you use only 1 GB over the cap, you will still be charged the full $10 fee.).
The new U-Verse caps (also listed in the chart below) range from 300 GB for speeds up to 6 Mbps and 600 GB for everything up to its bonded pair 75 Mbps tier. At the top end, customers lucky enough to get fiber to the home and speed plans up to 1 Gbps will have a 1 TB cap.
|Internet Tier||New Data Caps||Overage Charges|
|AT&T DSL (all speeds)||150 GB||$10 per 50GB|
|AT&T U-Verse (768 Kbps – 6 Mbps)||300 GB||$10 per 50GB|
|AT&T U-Verse (12 Mbps – 75Mbps)||600 GB||$10 per 50GB|
|AT&T U-Verse FTTH (100 Mbps – 1 Gbps)||1 TB||$10 per 50GB|
Uverse customers that expect to use more than 500 GB over their data cap ($100 is the maximum overage charge) or that simply prefer not to worry about tracking their data usage can opt to pay an additional $30 monthly fee to be exempt from their data cap.
It's not all bad news though. General wisdom has always been that U-Verse customers subscribed to both internet and TV would be exempt from the caps even if AT&T started to enforce them. This is not changing. U-Verse customers subscribed to U-Verse TV (IPTV) or Direct TV on a double play package with U-Verse internet will officially be exempt from the cap and will get the $30/month unlimited data option for free.
AT&T DSL users continue to be left behind here as they will not receive an increase in their 150 GB data allowance, and from the wording of the blog post it appears that they will further be left out of the $30 per month unlimited data option (which would have actually been a very welcome change for them).
Karl Bode over at DSLReports adds a bit of interesting history in mentioning that originally AT&T stated that U-Verse users would not be subject to a hard data cap because of the improved network architecture and its "greater capacity" versus the old school CO-fed DSL lines. With the acquisition of Direct TV and the way that AT&T has been heavily pushing Direct TV and pushing customers away from its IPTV U-Verse TV service, it actually seems like a perfect time to not enforce data caps since customers going with its Direct TV satellite TV would free up a great deal of bandwidth on the VDSL2 wireline network for internet!
This recent move is very reminiscent of Comcast's as it "trials" data caps and overages in certain markets as well as having it's own extra monthly charge for unlimited data use. Considering the relatively miniscule cost to deliver this data versus the monthly service charges, these new unlimited options really seem more about seeking profit than any increased costs especially since customers have effectively had unlimited data this whole time and will soon be charged for the same service they've possibly been using for years. I will give AT&T some credit for implementing more realistic data caps and bumping everyone up based on speed tiers (something Comcast should adopt if they are set on having caps). Also, letting Internet+TV customers keep unlimited data is a good thing, even if it is only there to encourage people not to cut the cord.
The final bit of good news is that existing U-Verse customers will have approximately four months before they will be charged for going over their data caps. AT&T claims that they will only begin charging for overages on the third billing cycle, giving customers at least two 'free' months of overages. Users can opt to switch between unlimited and capped options at will, even in the middle of a billing cycle, and the company will send as many as seven email reminders at various data usage points as they approach the cap in the first two months as a warning to the overages.
This is a lot to take in, but there is still plenty of time to figure out how the changes will affect you.
Are you a U-Verse or AT&T DSL user? What do you think about the new data caps for U-Verse users and the $30/month unlimited data option?
Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2016 - 07:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: security, isp, wifi
ISPs have stumbled onto a new money making venture, renting out your wireless internet connection to third parties so that those companies can provide public WiFi to their customers. Sources told The Inquirer that some ISPs already do this without informing their customers and that it will likely be a common industry practice by 2017. Theoretically you are allowed to opt out but since your ISP may not have told their users they are doing this; how would the average customer know to request this be turned off?
This raises several concerns, especially here in North America thanks to our pathetic internet services. Most users have a data cap and the ISPs have little reason to spend resources to properly monitor who is using the bandwidth, their customers or random passersby. As well the speeds of most customers are low enough that they may see degradation of their service if numerous passersby connect to their WiFi. Putting the monetary concerns to the side there are also serious security concerns. Once a user has access to your WiFi router they are most of the way into your network and services such as UPnP and unprotected ports leave you vulnerable to attack.
Change the password your provider put on the router and consider reaching out to them to find out if you have been unwillingly sharing your bandwidth already, or if you might be doing so in the near future.
"Companies are going to be selling a lot more public Wi-Fi plans over the next few years and it's going to be home Wi-Fi users who'll be the backbone of the network, according to analysts from Juniper Research."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Seek Thermal Turns Your Android Phone/Tablet Into A Thermal Imaging Camera @ Phoronix
- Attackers Use Microsoft Office To Push BlackEnergy Malware @ Slashdot
- TP-LINK’s WiFi Defaults to Worst Unique Passwords Ever @ Hack a Day
- Microsoft Office pulled into SCADA security shenanigans @ The Inquirer
- OnePlus ends rationing. You can now buy its phones just like that! @ The Register
- 2016 Samsung Galaxy A Series Exudes S6 Elegance @ TechARP
- Wiko Mobile Introduces 3 New Smartphones @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2012 - 08:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: isp, data cap, Comcast, bandwidth
Comcast’s 250GB per month data cap was proved an unpopular but necessary evil (in the sense that it cannot be avoided). The company suspended its data capping earlier this year to reevaluate its data caps and how they affect users. That temporary freedom is not slated to last, however as Comcast will be re-instating caps in the future (as soon as next year, by many reports). Currently, Comcast is testing a single 300GB cap across all tiers in Nashville, Tennessee, and on October 1st it will begin another data cap strategy in Tucson, Arizona.
In Tuscon, Comcast will be mixing things up a bit by pairing the higher (faster) tiers of service with larger data caps. For example, the Blast tier (25/4 in many markets) will have an additional 50GB for a total cap of 350GB per month. The next highest tier – Extreme 50 – will get a 450GB cap, and so on. This is a good thing, because it allows the caps to scale with speed. Otherwise, the faster the speed tier, the worse value it becomes as it will just allow you to burn through your data cap faster. When the caps scale with speed, that problem is eliminated. Interestingly, this method seems to be the one that Comcast is leaning towards using, because a source –when talking to DSL Reports – has stated that when Comcast reinstates caps nationwide, customers will have a 500GB caps while lower tiers will Performance tier users will receive only a 300GB cap. Specifically, the source stated “faster speed tiers will see higher caps.”
Personally, if I have to endure caps, I would much rather have this scalable cap system rathen than a one-size-fits-all number for every tier like the company is implementing in Nashville (and has in the past with its 250GB per month cap). It will be interesting to see exactly how it will scale the caps once they are official, and how often Comcast will consider raising its caps as more and more services move "to the cloud."
|Comcast Internet Tiers||Data Cap (Nashville, TN)||Data Cap (Tucson, AZ)||Overage Charge (both cities) - $/50GB|
Another bit of (surprising) news is that Comcast is being rather reasonable in its overage policy for customers that exceed the cap in the test markets. Customers that go over the cap in a month will be notified by both an email and webpage notification. Should the customer wish to continue to use the Internet service, Comcast will provide additional 50GB blocks for $10 each, which works out to 20 cents per Gigabyte. That is not bad at all, especially compared to wireless data overages that customers have begrudgingly become accustomed to.
Even better, Comcast will give each customer up to three warnings before charging for additional data. If customers go over their caps for three months in one year, they will not be charged for additional data usage. After the three “courtesy notices,” it’s back to $10/50GB. The overage charge and three warning system applies to both test markets, which seems to suggest that it has a good chance of being implemented nationwide.
At least in the testing markets, Comcast is being much more generous than it has in the past. I’m interested to see what the cable providing-giant that is Comcast actually ends up doing once it puts caps in place around the nation. Specifically, how standardized the caps and overage charges are across all of the markets, and whether it will be more aggressive in areas where it has a monopoly where customers can not fall back to AT&T’s U-Verse or Verizon’s FIOS service (among other options, though I don’t count satellite or dial up as those are not really competitive to wired broadband). Right now though, I think Comcast is moving towards a system that is an acceptable compromise between customer freedom and its business interests. [Please don’t mess this up, Comcast.]
What are your thoughts, do you think the proposed caps are fair? I do concede that data caps suck, and it is definitely possible to exceed the caps with legitimate services, but it does look as though caps are here to stay. Here's hoping Comcast remains at least as reasonable with the entire US as it is with its test markets.
Image courtesy Chauncey Davis via Flickr Creative Commons. Thank you.