AT&T To Impose Broadband Data Cap

Lovers of streaming movies may soon have to pay for the privilege of online film binges. AT&T will begin capping customers based on data usage, according to Broadband Reports.

DSL customers will reportedly be capped at 150 GB and U-Verse users at 250 GB per month, beginning May 2. AT&T users exceeding these caps more than three times in three separate months will be subject to $10 overage charges for each 50 GB over the limit.

The company says the caps will only affect about 2 percent of their DSL customers, asserting that the average customer uses about 18 GB each month . A statement AT&T provided to GigaOm also noted that "importantly, we are not reducing the speeds, terminating service or limiting available data like some others in the industry."

As with wireless plans, AT&T will notify customers when they are at 65, 90 and 100 percent of their monthly data usage.

VentureBeat notes that while figures that place activities like watching a video on YouTube for ten minutes at 10 to 50 megabytes make these data caps pretty reasonable, rising cloud technologies that sync files with remote servers in the background could face data usage issues under such a plan

AT&T introduced per-usage charging with smartphone plans that capped data use as iPhone usage proved to be too much for the network. Comcast began implementing data caps back in 2008.

The full statement from AT&T, which as received by Engadget, is below:

We are committed to providing a great experience for all of our Internet customers. Less than 2 percent of our Internet customers could be impacted by this approach - those who are using a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. We will communicate early and often with these customers so they are well aware of their options before they incur any additional usage charges.

The top 2 percent of residential subscribers uses about 20 percent of the bandwidth on our network. Just one of these high-traffic users can utilize the same amount of data capacity as 19 typical households. Lopsided usage patterns can cause congestion at certain points in the network, which can slow Internet speeds and interfere with other customers' access to and use of the network. Our new plan addresses another concern: customers strongly believe that only those who use the most bandwidth should pay more than those who don't use as much. That's exactly what this does - and again, 98% of our customers will not be impacted by this.