Letter to my senators about AT&T

I’m a writing concerning a recent decision AT&T has made to place a cap on internet bandwidth usage for the subscribers of their internet service.  They claim it is needed to combat congestion on their network.  As an avid computer enthusiast and based on the various articles I have read, I have a hard time buying that and feel there is something fundamentally wrong with what they are doing.  Please let me explain.


Starting May 2, AT&T will be implementing a 250 GB per month cap on the bandwidth of my internet service, anything over that and I will be charged an additional $10 per 50GB.  They claim that it will only affect 2% of their users and is needed due to people abusing their unlimited internet (I’m at a loss to understand how anyone can abuse “unlimited” anything, but that is a different discussion).


AT&T offers a package called U-verse, it consists of TV, Phone and Internet Service.  All three of these services are internet based, unlike traditional cable.  AT&T uses IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) for their TV service, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for their phone service and IP (internet Protocol) for their internet service.  So all three of the services I pay for use internet bandwidth to function.  Now with all three services being internet based and consuming bandwidth on their network, the only service they will be limiting is the Internet service.  This may sound reasonable, but let me put it another way.  The only service they are limiting is the service that provides us access to their competitor’s services.  Such as Netflix, Hulu, You Tube, on-line back-up services etc.  The bandwidth used to access AT&T services (TV/Phone) is still unlimited


                There are many articles on-line from various reliable sources debunking their claims of the need to limit.  It is generally accepted that wholesale bandwidth costs 2 -7 cents per GB.  With this cap I will be paying 22 cents per GB (300% markup).   I feel there is a distinct possibility their claims of network work congestion are either false, exaggerated or intentionally created (by failing to reinvest in system upgrades needed to keep pace with demand/Technology) in order to justify the caps, thus limiting our access to competing services.   All one has to do it look at Japan and Korea, who has far superior internet services for a much lower price.  I feel this is largely due them having solid competition in that sector.  Their companies reinvest capital to keep their systems in-line with demands and technology.  They don’t allow their systems to fall behind then claim it’s their customers fault and impose caps.


In today’s day and age, the internet is as vital to individuals and business as the roads and highways across our country.  Americans use it to go to school, shop, communicate etc and thousands of businesses rely upon the internet for consumers to access their services.  To have AT&T discriminate between different bandwidth uses seems profoundly unfair and is detrimental to the web-based commerce across the country and around the world.  Customer complaints are falling on deaf ears, because the government has allowed duopolies to take over the internet service provider sector.  Most cities only have access to the internet through their local Cable or Telephone Company, thus there is no need to accommodate the customer.  The best example of this is seen in COMCAST’s policy.  They have become so arrogant they don’t just charge you extra if you exceed their limit, they suspend your entire internet service for a year.  They act like purchasing their product is privilege and you have abused that privilege and will be punished.  That’s how far out of kilter this has gotten.


The primary concern I have is ISPs can make unsubstantiated claims of network congestion or even worse create an artificial shortage of bandwidth by deliberately withholding system upgrades, in order to justify implementing bandwidth caps.  Whether it is intentional or not the end result is limiting our access to their competitor’s on-line services.  This is no different that the Telephone company limiting your “unlimited” local calling to keep you from using a competitor’s long distance service.  But if you use the Telephone Company’s long distance service there is no limitation or additional charge. 


                I encourage you to work towards keeping access to the internet as unlimited as our access to the nation’s highways.  American’s and businesses need this to survive and prosper.  Please promote competition in the ISP sector and help break up the duopolies which threaten and control our access to this vital resource.  I am a believer in the free market system, but the government’s actions have limited competition and short circuited the protections a free-mark provides.  As of now there is very limited over-sight of ISPs and their power to limit our freedoms…the freedom to choose who we purchase our on-line services from.  Please provide me your position on this issue and let me know if there is any legislation you’re aware of to help correct this. Thank you for your time and I patiently await your response.