Public Knowledge Urges FCC to Investigate AT&T Caps

Nice, glad others are urging this.

Public Knowledge and the New America Foundation say they've sent the FCC a letter urging them to investigate AT&T's new usage caps. AT&T this week imposed a new 150 GB cap on DSL users and a 250 GB cap on U-Verse users, with those exceeding those caps paying AT&T $10 per every 50 GB thereafter. While many companies now impose caps to help differentiate residential and business class services, AT&T is the first major U.S. ISP to begin charging users per byte overages -- a practice that is very common in Canada, but extremely unpopular among consumers across North America."While broadband caps are not inherently problematic, they carry the omnipresent temptation to act in anticompetitive and monopolistic ways," notes the letter. "Unlike competitors whose caps appear to be at least nominally linked to congestions during peak-use periods, AT&T seeks to convert caps into a profit center by charging additional fees to customers who exceed the cap," the groups insist. "In addition to concerns raised by broadband caps generally, such a practice produces a perverse incentive for AT&T to avoid raising its cap even as its own capacity expands."

Noting that "ISPs use network congestion as a pretext to act on other motives," both groups have urged the FCC to collect "no less than quarterly" anonymized reports from ISPs highlighting how caps are set, how often they're enforced, and what the average penalty per user is.We've cited time and time again how North American ISPs are so eager to impose this new pricing, they can't be bothered to ensure their meters work properly, and there's no regulatory oversight of these limits, leaving consumers with little recourse when these meters prove to be inaccurate. Carriers have consistently stated they'd love to bill bandwidth as if it were electricity (despite being a vastly different commodity from electricity), yet they've lobbied fiercely to ensure they're not regulated like utilities.