In what I would call a dubious development from the “Death Star” of communication providers, AT&T has confirmed that it has quietly begun “bandwidth metering trials” here in Reno, Nevada. Obviously, this is the first move in metering studies to establish the development of higher pay service tiers beyond what consumers currently pay for monthly web access currently.
AT&T says it is conducting the market trial “to evaluate a usage-based model that could potentially help address today’s trend of explosive bandwidth usage”. More to the point, similar trials will likely be launched in other markets by the end of 2008.
Perfect timing from what many have considered the “T-1000” of communication corporations.
And now, starting on Nov. 1, 2008, AT&T’s High Speed Internet customers in Reno have been receiving a bandwidth usage amount report – from between 20 gigabytes to 150 gigabytes.
“Once they’re a part of the trial, customers will receive a one-month grace period the first time usage is exceeded,” the carrier explained. “Thereafter, customers will be charged $1 for every gigabyte over their determined usage amount.”
So there it is America, yet another way that corporate America looks to gain profits on the backs of a struggling economic downturn, and worse yet, economically challenged consumers. A PR nightmare designed to identify and charge what AT&T claims is a small group of customers who are using the majority of bandwidth on its network. The carrier has said almost 50 percent of total bandwidth is used by just five percent of customers.
To “help customers gauge their usage”, AT&T will provide trial customers with a bandwidth measuring tool. This “tool” will notify customers least 60 days ahead of any overage charges. Even more helpful, AT&T promises to be even more helpful by “proactively letting customers know each time they reach 80 percent of their usage amount”. “We will not terminate service due to customer usage,” said AT&T.
AT&T has hinted that some type of usage-based model, “for those customers who have abnormally high usage patterns, seemed inevitable.”
Like the advent of VOIP for long distance service, this is the first step in monetizing internet based on usage. While I’d agree that the corporation must maintain a financial model that provides its stockholders with a secure future, metering and charging for usage based on volume, and not service type is not the answer.
What do you think about these latest developments by the nation’s largest communication company?