05 Nov AT&T usage limits: So where is the discount in monthly charges?
In an announcement about service in Reno, Nevada, AT&T observes:
AT&T will be providing written notice to customers involved in the trial explaining that their broadband service will be subject to a certain monthly usage tier for the total amount of data they may send and receive, as well as a per gigabyte charge in the event they exceed the usage tier.
They cannot get away from “metering” as a way to collect more money. The interesting thing is that they are going to provide a meter to show where the customer is as far as usage:
We further explained that AT&T will provide customers with an online usage metering tool that displays a running total of the amount of data the customer has transmitted during a given month. AT&T also will send written notices to customers when they reach 80 percent of their monthly usage tier to remind them of the usage tier and the additional charges that apply for exceeding it. In addition, the first time a customer exceeds the applicable monthly usage tier, AT&T will send a written notice reminding the customer again about the usage tier, but we will not impose any additional charges at that time. Only after the second time the customer exceeds the applicable monthly usage tier will the customer be subject to additional per-gigabyte charges.
This is the equivalent of a gas gauge on your car. If you put the accelerator down by sending out some huge files, you are going to use up whatever usage you have left, pretty quickly. It will show on your “usage gauge.”
Where is the speedometer?
Over two years ago, I suggested the implementation of a network speedometer to indicate what type of speed a subscriber would get from his or her service. Some scoffed at the idea for various reasons, while others said it should be standard. Well if they have the technology to add in a “usage gauge”, they have the ability to add a speedometer. But, that would put a measure on their performance, rather than yours.
What I don’t like about this “usage gauge” that they are proposing is that if they are going to limit the amount of megabytes you can send, then how about discounting the monthly rate to reflect a new limit that was not part of the original agreement when you signed up for service? They say they are going to take care of that in Nevada but what about what has been quietly going on everywhere else?
There is more to this as I have noticed in the last two months on a Yahoo account that sending out a weekly newsletter to about 1,000 people, there are now hourly sending limits – 99 names an hour as well as a daily limit as to how many users you can send to within a day (a couple of hundred). This limit was not imposed before and in talking with the technicians after filing a trouble report with AT&T, they confirmed that they were tightening down the amount of Emails you could send out within a day.
Where is the lower monthly fee?
If AT&T is going to restrict usage, which equates to taking away service, where is the corresponding discount in monthly rates? Sounds like something all the utility commissions should be looking into. But then, the consumer has been getting “shorted” in this last year with many products.
I am sure you have seen the packaging of various products go from 100 plates to 80 plates to 70 plates all with the same price. Or, what about the two pound bag of coffee going from $9.99 to now $12.99? Those are all hefty percentage increases with few noticing. I guess AT&T feels it’s no different than all the other consumer product companies.
If gauges are to be used to visualize usage and create an “empty” level awareness, which then requires more money to replenish, then we should also have a network speedometer on the dashboard to signify carrier performance.
CARLINI-ISM: If meters are going to be used, let’s measure the carriers’ performance as well.
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
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