Broadband Bottleneck Leads to ISP Data Limits

Broadband Bottleneck Leads to ISP Data Limits

Sonia Zjawinski
Nov 6, 2008

Bad news for all who download tunes and flicks (legally or not). AT&T has decided to limit the amount of data customers can use each month. According to Business Week, five percent of AT&T's subscribers take up 50 percent of the capacity.

The limits will first affect Reno, NV subscribers this month, and then, if a revolution doesn't download, AT&T will limit data usage in other locations. The company's plan is to limit data use to 20 gigabytes per month for users of their slowest DSL service, with usage increasing with the speed of the plan -- up to 150 gigabytes per month at the 10 megabits-per-second level.

Using email and the web won't get you close to these limits, but if you use Netflix's watch instantly feature, the iTunes store, or P2P file sharing you could reach that number pretty quickly. Luckily subscribers will be able to track their downloads on AT&T's site, and will be contacted by the company when they reach 80 percent of their limit. It'll cost a $1 a gig after you've reached your limit....

AT&T isn't the only ISP to tighten the bandwidth belt. Comcast, last month, began a nationwide traffic limit of 250 gigabytes per subscriber. The company won't charge extra for going over limit, though it will cancel service after repeated warnings. Time Warner Cable Inc. and FairPoint Communications Inc. are both planning or testing traffic limits as low as 5 gigabytes per month!

Verizon Communications Inc. is one of the only mega ISPs that's holding out, but who knows for how long.

Have any of you been burned by broadband limits?

photo: Interconnects

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