AT&T Instituting Bandwidth Caps for Residential DSL

I have had AT&T DSL for about 12 years now.  I’ve upgraded once, from a standard (all that they offered) plan to a top-level plan that promised us 10 mbps down and 6 mbps up.  Two years ago I dropped our landline and kept the DSL.  We have had minimal problems with our DSL here, while neighbors have ongoing problems with Charter.  The problems are primarily due to the fact that we have no overhead lines and everything is underground; Charter doesn’t know how to maintain underground lines, whereas AT&T has been using underground lines for decades.

At any rate, I’m a long-time and satisfied customer of AT&T DSL.  The limits being proposed go into effect May 2nd, and are capped at 150 gb per month.  I have a house full of computers and people who surf them, so of course I’m concerned about any kind of cap being imposed.  I also know that I have no idea how much we use every month, as I have no tool to tell me that information.  I called AT&T to ask a few questions.

My first question was, since I have a higher-level plan, will my cap be higher?  From a logical perspective, it would make sense that different levels of service would come with different levels of caps.  The guy across the street with the low-end plan could probably never download 150 gb in a month, out of the sheer lack of speed.  Someone like me could certainly hit that cap at some point, as I have a higher-speed connection and more users on my line.  The answer from AT&T?  The caps are the same regardless of your level of service.  AT&T currently offers four tiers of DSL service.  There’s a $15 plan, a $20 plan, a $30 plan (the one we have) and a $40 plan.  So other than a slight increase in speed, upgrading my plan will not give me any advantages.  Good to know, AT&T.

My second question was, how will I know if I’m using too much?  The charge for going over is another $10 for each 50 gb over, so the price isn’t horrifying, but still, I’d like to know if I’m going to get hit with a big bill.  AT&T is going to institute some tools on their website that will allow us to periodically check our usage, and they will also inform us if we are getting close to our limit.  This doesn’t tell me how much we’ve used in the past, but at least it’s a way for me to tell what we use in the future.

I’m opposed to any caps, of course, because it opens a door I’d rather not have opened.  Once a cap is in place, it is not going to be difficult to tighten that cap, throttling back the service we are paying for.  How long before they reduce the cap, or attach the caps to different service levels, thereby increasing prices for everyone?  As usual, AT&T is claiming that only 2% of their DSL subscribers ever reach that 150 gb limit.  I guess I’ll be finding out if I’m one of them.