AT&T makes access to the Internet more expensive

The Civil War it's not, but AT&T has fired the first shot by a major telco in the battle to curtail runaway Internet usage, rolling out punitive broadband usage fees, which hit users with surcharges should they pass data thresholds each month.

The telco in March said a plan was on the way, so the news isn't unexpected.

The effort may amount to throwing a bucket of water at a forest fire, as consumers increasingly look to the Internet for entertainment content from sources like Netflix, Hulu and any number of video on demand sites, but the teco, which is increasingly seeing U-verse broadband as a profit center, is looking to make every last drop count.

Usage offenders will be hit with a rolling scale of fines, uh, fees, depending on usage and service types they have.

For DSL customers, the fees kick in after 150 GB are used in a month; U-verse subscribers get a tad more liberal 250 GB a month. Users will pay an additional $10 a month for additional 50 GB bites, or any portion thereof.

AT&T said the caps are being put in place to ensure customers aren't impacted by bandwidth hogs, and contends just two percent of its customers are likely to be affected; it said the average customer consumes far less data than the usage caps allow.

Nonetheless, the move comes at a time that telcos' pay-TV and broadband businesses are experiencing halcyon days with consumers, generally seen as offering better value and customer service.

For more:
- see this Huffington Post article
- see FierceTelecom's take

Related articles:
AT&T set to roll out Internet usage caps in May
AT&T expands OTT offering with rebranded U-verse Online
AT&T formally launches online TV portal