AT&T Targets Multi-IP Freeloaders

Publish date:
Updated on

There is no such thing as a free ride, and that is going to be particularly
true in the coming months for a small number of AT&T Broadband customers who
have been linking more than one computer to their high-speed connection without
paying the fee.

The Englewood, Colo.-based MSO has started sending out letters to these
customers as part of a sort of network housecleaning effort now under way,
according to spokeswoman Sarah Eder.

From the beginning, AT&T Broadband has charged users $4.95 for each extra
IP address -- effectively each extra computer -- they use. But some of these
users slipped through the cracks when the MSO switched over customers from the
failing Excite@Home Corp. network late last year, Eder said.

'Based on what happened during the migration from Excite@Home to AT&T
Broadband Internet, some of the tools for monitoring were not turned on for the
ease of the transition,' she added.

The estimated number of customers using multiple Internet-protocol addresses
but not paying for the extra link is likely less than 5 percent of AT&T
Broadband's 1.8 million high-speed-data users, Eder said.

The MSO started sending out notification letters in July and August to
customers in its Oregon and Washington markets, telling them they would have to
pay for their multiple IP addresses. If not, the primary IP address would be
kept active but the secondary IP addresses would be disabled.

'Those will be the first markets to be migrated over, but we haven't
communicated to the rest of our customers yet,' Eder said.

Notification in other systems may be taking a back seat to the accelerating
merger process as AT&T Broadband combines with fellow MSO Comcast Corp. by
the end of the year. There is a schedule for notifying customers in other
markets, but it has been twice delayed so far, Eder said.

'Frankly, it has slowed a bit with everything happening with the merger, as
well, and to make sure we are doing this in line with what perhaps we might want
to do in the future,' she added. 'So we haven't initiated that