Welcome to the Future of Broadband: Third Major ISP AT&T Testing Bandwidth Caps in the Fall

Illustration for article titled Welcome to the Future of Broadband: Third Major ISP AT&T Testing Bandwidth Caps in the Fall

AT&T chief tech officer John Donovan has told Wired that they're going to test bandwidth caps in the fall, making them the third of the four major ISPs to do so. (Verizon stands alone, but for how long?) He lays out the familiar rationale, a small group of users (5 percent) pillage the network (40 percent) and they've got to stop them. But then he slips what's probably the real reason they've moving to caps: "Traffic on our backbone is growing 60 percent per year, but our revenue is not."


It is more or less accepted that a minority of users use disproportionate of bandwidth, but what they're using it for is changing. It's increasingly video, not BitTorrent. The whole pro-BitTorrent thing is a smokescreen, because BitTorrent is less and less of an issue-video, and increasingly, HD video will be the real one. (Along with any number of other increasingly bandwidth-intensive apps.) And it'll be more and more competitive with providers' TV offerings-we've already seen Time Warner cry about it. But there's no legitimate way to block it and protect their content.

They can, however, make it more expensive for you to download with bandwidth caps (which is conveniently net neutral). And that's what I think this is partially about-protecting their TV business, not just curbing voracious bandwidth appetites. Regardless of the motivations, it's definitely coming. Comcast's tests will probably start soon, Time Warner's are already underway and regional ISPs have been doing it for a while. It's looking very much like the future of broadband here.

At least if we're using it less maybe the internet won't explode now. [Wired]





It's not all porn. Though that is a large chunk of it. I am on the internet every single day of the month. So let's take your cap of 40GB ( which is still 8 times larger than the what I hear 5GB cap LOL! ).

So that's 40GB divided by 30 days. That is ~1.3GB per day.

I visit [vimeo.com] a lot during the day. Each video I watch is an average of 200 MB streamed. I watch an average of 4-5 such videos per day. This is already 800MB to 1GB of my daily quota. Porn can be easily at least another 200MBs per day. Check mail with attachments ( which are often times large ) that's another 100MBs for one day. .... I've already passed my quota. AND I haven't even started counting the episodes I watch on abc.com, or all the other surfing like gizmodo, or streaming of mp3 radios online, or about another dozen of websites I visit daily. Yeah this is fan-friggin-tastic! .....

So how do you not hit your cap of 1.3GBs per day if you're an average user ? .. the only way you don't is if you're an old geezer ( hey we'll all get there some day ) who only checks his 2 emails per day and maybe browses [cnn.com] or something for 20 minutes. Yeppy freaking YAY!