Broadband Reports Says AT&T Will Impose Future Download Caps on DSL and Fiber Users

According to Broadband Reports/DSL Reports, AT&T is shifting its broadband accounts to a capped structure that will impose penalties for users who regularly exceed 150 GB for DSL or 250 GB for their fiber-based U-Verse:

Broadband Reports was the first to learn, and has confirmed with AT&T, that the company will be implementing a new 150GB monthly usage cap for all DSL customers and a new 250 GB cap on all U-Verse users starting on May 2. From March 18 to March 31, AT&T users are going to be receiving notices informing them of the change in the company’s terms of service. AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom confirmed the news to Broadband Reports after we initially contacted him last Friday concerning a leaked copy of the upcoming user notification. According to Bloom, the cap will involve overage charges. However, only users who consistently exceed the new caps will have to deal with these charges [via Exclusive: AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages – Notices To Go Out This Week, Capping Begins May 2 | DSLReports.com, ISP Information.]

AT&T and other ISPs have claimed that the unlimited Internet access account creates an environment where a few heavy users spoil the online experience for casual users. Additionally, they claim that the excessive usage of the few costs them too much money, so those users should be made to pay more if they choose to download more.

It would seem that one of the responsibilities of the ISP, as a provider of Internet access to its customers, is to continually innovate and improve its network so that the online experience is not diluted for some at the expense of other users. They provide a service, and the responsibility for making that service attractive to customers is what they, as a business, should do. However, this is not what they do as a corporation.

As a corporation, they are beholden to their shareholders. This means that they are not as concerned about their users, paying for the service that they provide, as they are about their shareholders. As a corporation, their calculus finds the way to maximize their profits (e.g., providing dividends, pumping the stock price, rewarding upper management financially, etc) while minimizing their expenditures. Those expenditures would be the things that they could do to maximize their customers’ experience online (e.g., providing bandwidth, improving infrastructure, making the ISP as transparent as possible to the online experience).

Unfortunately, AT&T and other ISPs, in measures such as this and the impending customer abuse as a result of removing net neutrality from the picture, want to get as many customers as possible who are willing and able to pay for crap service in order to maximize the things that really matter to the corporation’s logic of appeasing its true masters (i.e., not the customers).

Which ISP will be the next with innovative ways to stick it to their customers?

Notes from Taiwan, postaday2011 is Difficult When Technology Strikes Back

Having no Internet access makes this whole postaday2011 thing rather difficult. However, we just got Internet access restored at Y’s parents’ house in Taiwan.

There is a reason why the Internet stopped working. Yesterday, Y and I wanted to clean up the computer desk by the front door of their house and we wanted to throw out an old ethernet cable that snaked from the first floor to her second floor bedroom. The ethernet cable was problematic to remove, because her parents had telephone work done in the house since Y was here last. The telephone installers took it upon themselves to zip tie Y’s self-installed ethernet cable to every fixture, plant, and other impediment to easy removal. Luckily, I had my Gerber tool with me, so I hacked and slashed my way to getting the cable removed.

Next, we had to clean around the computer desk area. This is by the front door of the house where they pull their car inside the front business area of the house. It is more dusty here, and there were many ethernet cables, loose power cords, and power bricks that led to nothing. There was also an extra power strip supporting these vampiric go-to-nothing power cords. I began pulling things out that weren’t needed, but apparently, I made a mistake by switching the ADSL modem’s power brick with another. Unfortunately, it was so close in size, power connector, and power output that the wrong power brick permitted the ADSL modem to turn on without alarm and indicate everything was normal except no link to the wide area network over the telephone line. We did successfully clean up the computer area, but we have been without Internet access since then.

We called Ba’s Internet service provider Hinet, and they sent out a repair technician this morning. He was very friendly and quickly discovered the problem after eliminating the line as an issue. He installed a new ADSL modem, and took the old one away with the wrong power brick. After he left, I hooked up our Netgear wireless router so that we could get back online with our iPhones and iPads. All is well again.

I find it hard to believe that a power brick incompatibability would cause the problem that the technician described. Also, I find it hard to believe that I would carelessly swap power bricks. However, I was covered in black, grimy dust (the humidity here turns dust into a thin mortar-like substance), so I could have slipped up while I was rewiring everything under the table. So, it may not really be the technology’s fault–just human error.