AT&T Will Have a Three-Strikes Rule for Cap Busters

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The telco will give subscribers who blow through the maximum usage limits — which take effect May 2 — two warnings before tacking on overage charges (see Cable Likely To Follow AT&T Into Usage-Based Broadband Pricing: Analyst).

That’s according to AT&T’s FAQ on broadband usage, available at www.att.com/internet-usage.

The monthly caps are 150 Gigabytes for regular DSL users and 250 GB for U-verse DSL users. The first time a sub exceeds those, AT&T will simply send a notification. In subsequent months, users will receive notices when usage exceeds 65%, 90% and 100% of the usage allowance, along with tips for staying below the caps.

“If you exceed your monthly allowance a second time, AT&T will send you a notice advising you that the next time you exceed your allowance — the third time — you will be billed $10 for each 50 GB of data over your allowance,” the company says.

AT&T will provide usage reports at www.MyUsage.att.com on a per-month basis from the January 2011 billing cycle onward. Users over at DSLReports have complained that the data is in some cases way off. AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom said, “We’re already addressing ways we can make the labels and information on the online tool more clear for customers between now and May” and that it is “performing checks every day to ensure accuracy” (see AT&T’s Usage Meters Bollixed Up?).

The telco says initially it will report usage data on a weekly basis, posted one to four days after the data is collected; when a customer uses 70% of the monthly usage allowance, usage will be updated daily.

In addition, in late April, the telco plans to introduce a bandwidth calculator to let DSL users estimate how much data they use each month (similar to the one it provides for wireless data customers).

Until then, AT&T offers this chart (below) roughly laying out what levels of usage — cumulatively, adding up all emails, MP3 downloads, movies, etc. — would fit within those monthly limits.

Are these steps enough to convince AT&T customers that the usage caps are fair — and generous? Add your comments below.

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