AT&T Institutes Broadband Data Caps of 250GB

AT&T instituted data caps to its DSL and U-Verse broadband customers Wednesday, with the company imposing a 250GB per month cap on how much data U-Verse customers can use. The company’s slower DSL service now has a 150GB cap. The data caps follow the model established by Comcast for its broadband cable Internet access, and customers will be charged US$10 for every 50GB above their data caps they exceed.

Broadband Reports broke the news, and the site said that AT&T’s policy will be to not charge for overages until a customer has exceeded the cap three times during the lifetime of the account. Ma Bell told the site back in March when word of the planned cap first leaked, that the company would , “proactively notify customers when they exceed 65%, 90% and 100% of the monthly usage allowance.”

So there’s that.

Data caps are the hottest potential revenue generator for broadband providers, all of whom have repeatedly claimed that the caps would only effect the top 1% of customers who use a disproportionate amount of bandwdith. AT&T had experimented with 20GB data caps in test markets in Texas and Nevada back in 2008, but quickly backed off in the face of reality.

AT&T’s move to impose a cap means that half of the major broadband providers in the U.S. now have such a cap (Comcast, Charter, and AT&T), leaving Time Warner, Verizon, and Cablevision without, but all three of those companies clearly want such caps based on earlier tests and comments about usage, metering, and comment about consumption-based pricing they have made in the past.