CenturyLink to begin metered billing trial of DSL users

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) will launch a metered billing trial focusing on select DSL customers in Yakima, Washington, meaning that subscribers will face overage fees if they go over a certain monthly usage limit.

Today, CenturyLink will impose usage caps that range from 150 to 250 GB depending on the speed of a customer's line. However, the telco had not charged users penalties if they went over their monthly allowance.

According to an updated "excessive usage policy FAQ" obtained by DSL Reports, the metered billing trial will begin on July 26.

For the Yakima trial, CenturyLink will implement a 300 GB cap on users that subscribe to 7 Mbps service, while other faster 10 and 20 Mbps speeds will be faced with a 600 GB cap.

Similar to the plan set by AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink users in the trial market will get a two-month grace period where they won't be charged if they violate the cap. Those customers will be sent a warning about "excessive usage." If a user exceeds their monthly limit following that three month period, they will be charged overage fees.  

CenturyLink said that users who exceed these allotments will be required to pay the telco an additional $10 for 50 GB of data, with a monthly maximum penalty cap of $50.

The telco justified the change by telling users that it is trying to enable a good experience for all of its users. "Data usage limits encourage reasonable use of your CenturyLink High Speed Internet service so that all customers can receive the optimal Internet experience they have purchased with their service plan," CenturyLink said in the FAQ.

Such a plan should not be a great surprise. Stewart Ewing, CFO and EVP of CenturyLink, told investors during its fourth quarter 2015 call in February that the company was mulling how it could implement a metered usage plan to increase its broadband revenue base.

At the time, Ewing did not provide any details about its metered billing plans other than saying that "we are considering that for second half of the year."

CenturyLink is hardly alone in its metered billing desires. AT&T launched an unlimited data option for U-verse Internet customers while increasing usage caps on other tiers in March.

Like CenturyLink, AT&T service provider will provide notifications over three billing cycles to users who have gone over their monthly usage allowance. In the first billing cycle, AT&T will notify a user when they reach 100 percent of their data allowance without any charges, while in the second billing cycle the telco will tell the user when it reaches 65 percent, 90 percent, and 100 percent of their allowance without charges.

AT&T users who exceed their allowance will receive increments of 50 GB of additional data for $10 each.

For more:
- Multichannel News has this article
- DSL Reports has this article

Related articles:
CenturyLink to conduct metered broadband trial later this year, Ewing says
AT&T to offer unlimited U-verse data usage option, increases caps on other tiers
AT&T, Verizon, other top telcos lose 185K broadband subs in 2015 as cable surges ahead
New consumer labels may combat broadband service sticker shock

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