AT&T's usage based billing plan goes into effect

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AT&T (NYSE: T) this week is implementing the usage based billing (UBB) rules for its DSL and U-verse broadband customers it previously announced in March. Starting today, existing DSL service customers will get a 150 GB allowance, while U-verse subscribers have a 250 GB cap on services.

As has been the argument by other large broadband providers such as Frontier (NYSE: FTR), Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE) and, most recently, Telus (Toronto: T.TO), the caps will affect only about 2 percent of their customer base.

"Customers strongly believe that only those who use the most bandwidth should pay more. That's exactly what this does," Kuriko Hasegawa, a spokeswoman for AT&T, told the American-Statesman, adding that "98 percent of our customers will NOT be impacted by this."

However, Phillip Dampier, leader of consumer watchdog group Stop the Cap believes that AT&T's move is nothing more than a means to protect its U-verse revenue from over the top (OTT) online video services like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Hulu.

"AT&T likes to claim these caps will only impact a tiny percentage of their customers. If true, why impose them at all?" Dampier asked.

At the same time, a number of users in Broadband DSL Reports AT&T forum report that there are various inaccuracies on how the telco measures bandwidth consumption. Concerns over metering accuracy will likely grow even larger as people become affected by the rules.

For more:
- The Statesman has this article
- Broadband DSL Reports has this article

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AT&T to introduce monthly caps on traditional DSL, U-verse broadband users
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Broadband metering: A misguided struggle for bandwidth control
Canada's UBB restrictions: A blow to competitors and consumers