As far as broadband provision is concerned, the US can no longer be described as the 'land of the free'. Yesterday, AT&T was the latest provider to impose caps on high-speed Internet usage and will charge "over-usage" fees on those that exceed them. Martyn Warwick reports.
This development means that some 43 to 45 million US broadband subscribers are now subject to arbitrary monthly usage limits as decided by their service providers and more than half of all US broadband subscribers now capped.
AT&T has limited its 'U-verse' broadband service customers to a total of 250 Gigabytes of usage (that's downloads and uploads) and has also imposed a 150 Gigabytes cap on its DSL service customers.
The result of AT&T's decision is that 56 per cent of the 75 million Americans with broadband access are now subject to usage caps as more and more ISPs and network operators impose artificial limits. Cablevision Systems, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications already have capping regimes in place while others, such as the group of 'C's' - Charter Communications, Comcast and Cox Communications, simply warn customers they classify as "over-users" to cease and desist. However, that state of affairs is unlikely to continue for much longer. After all, there's more money to be wrung out of customer's by changing the terms of contracts that are already signed and in place.
AT&T now becomes the biggest US broadband provider not only to impose specific and non-negotiable usage limits on its customers but also to charge additional fees if those caps are exceeded.