AT&T Changes Terms of Service, Fastest U-Verse Subscribers Will See Slowdowns

Illustration for article titled ATT Changes Terms of Service, Fastest U-Verse Subscribers Will See Slowdowns

AT&T's just updated its terms of service for broadband customers, and starting next month, if you're a heavy downloader, get ready to have your connection squeezed to a trickle. While they haven't implemented usage caps a la Comcast (yet) they are using a similar traffic management technique starting on Oct. 18 you will see throughput get slower if you're "using other U-verse services in a manner that requires high bandwidth." Update: AT&T just hit us with some clarifications on the confusingly worded ToS—Rebel downloaders won't be punished specifically for using gobs of bandwidth, but what they've told us actually sounds worse for the average Joe U-Verse subscriber.

In order to provide a consistently high-quality video service, AT&T Uverse High Speed Internet throughput speeds may be temporarily reduced when a customer is using other U-verse services in a manner that requires high bandwidth. This could occur more often with higher speed Internet access products. It may be necessary, for some AT&T High Speed Internet users, for AT&T to set a maximum downstream speed on a customer line to enhance the reliability and consistency of performance.

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Update: So here's what AT&T just told us: "We're not referring to the use of high-bandwidth activity from other services, like AppleTV, we are saying that customers who subscribe to our higher-bandwidth tiers could see slowdowns in their Internet throughput." In other words, what this actually means is you won't be slowed down for downloading a whole lot, but if there's network congestion generally speaking, your bandwidth's going to get squeezed, and it's more likely to happen if you've got one of the faster U-Verse broadband packages. People that have a (s)lower-bandwidth tier won't see this as often because their connection is already pokey. AT&T says the "vast majority" of people will never notice. There's a bunch of other changes in the updated terms of service that you should read too if you're an AT&T customer, like regarding the settling of disputes. There are some clauses about not distributing copyrighted content, but I don't know if those are new, I'm still checking on that. Either way, it's another step toward crappier internet for all, and it's not like you're going to get anything out of it, either. [AT&T]

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DISCUSSION

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Here in the UK ISP's are arguing that content providers VOD services such as YouTube and the massively successful BBC iPlayer are throttling available bandwith for consumers and as such they should be forced to contribute towards the cost of upgrading the network infrastrucure.

The major UK ISP's and British Telecom have failed to invest heavily in upgrading the infrastructure and are now looking at scapegoats to absolve them of blame for the UK's generally woeful broadband speeds.

Another less highlighted trend is that instead of throttling download speeds, many ISP's are secretly capping upload speeds to thwart the users of P2P/Torrents.

As an example my friend's broadband download speed is consistently around the 6.5mb/s mark. The upload speed however is consistently about 85-100kb/s which not only makes uploading photos, for instance, a joke but effectively slows his connection speed as page calls and any other outgoing data is capped at that speed.

I've noticed this trend with my ISP as well as have a few of my work colleagues. Many blame Vista or IE for the latency until they do a few speed tests and are shocked at the results.

My upload speed has steadily declined from about 1.5mb/s to around 300kb/s and I don't even use P2P/Torrents- but uploading photos to my website and especially for on-line processing has become a process worse than watching paint dry.

I've got 800MB of photos I need to upload and get printed- at that speed it would take about 6 hours to upload