Policy + charging

Consumption Check

3:25 PM -- In the wake of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s decision to combine Internet usage caps with overage fees and the potential for some cable operators to follow suit, I did what a lot of people probably did: check to see how much bandwidth I'm consuming. (See Will Cable Follow AT&T's Lead on Usage Fees? and AT&T to Fit Subs With Broadband Caps .)

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is my provider, so I have to stay below their monthly 250Gbyte ceiling before worrying about getting a nastygram urging me to upgrade to a higher-end service or face possible disconnection if I don't fall in line. The comforting news, so far, is that it appears that Comcast is among the MSOs considered least likely to start billing for overages in the near-term. (See Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)

But it also turns out that I, like the majority of broadband users, don't have much to worry about even if they did decide to ding customers who exceed the cap. I cannot recall checking this in more than a year, but here's the consumption trend in my household over the last three months:

By this account, it appears that we've hit a consumption plateau that falls well below the 250GB ceiling, but well above the 16GB per month AT&T's DSL users are averaging.

But I don't find my consumption all that surprising. We still watch most of our TV the regular way, though we do stream stuff now and then from sources like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Comcast's Xfinity TV Online service and download movies and TV shows from iTunes at least two to three times a month. The kids love the iPad and use it a lot, with much of it relegated to streaming low-res Star Wars Legos videos on YouTube Inc. . So, in this sense, we're definitely using the Web to complement rather than replace our video-viewing habits.

But the usage in my household is just one example. Anyone else out there check their consumption trends after learning of AT&T's decision? Where did you end up? What are your Web TV viewing habits like these days?

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:10:24 PM
re: Consumption Check


March to Date - 59 GBytes

Feb - 116 Gbytes

Jan - 154 Gbytes

Dec - 91 Gbytes

We do stream a number of Netflix films and TV shows.  We also are a heavy gaming household and March had 2 installs of DragonAge II.



ravanelli 12/5/2012 | 5:10:23 PM
re: Consumption Check

I did some rough math:  150GB means you are streaming 460Kbps every second of the day for a month--pretty steady load.  Put another way, a full Netflix movie is about 1.7GB, so about 3 full length movies a day.  My point is, these caps are incredibly high and you'd have to really work to burn through it all. I assume bandwidth consumed when you leave your U-Verse STB on 24-7 is not counted against the cap.

I think there's two things going on here:

1) ISPs genuinely want to police copyright violators and network hogs, though if that were the case wouldn't there be an upstream cap as well?  

2) ISPs want to move to full-on metered broadband and are using this to test consumer sentiment and work out the kinks in their metering tools.  

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:21 PM
re: Consumption Check

Put that way, even a 150GB cap comes off as pretty generous for most users.  And, yes, ATT did confirm that managed IPTV services don't count against the cap, so customers don't need to worry about that.

But I agree with Seven on the strategy that appears to be in play here... go after the edges and target very light and very heavy users, leaving the vast majority free of overage charges.  Still, something to keep an eye on down the road since there's still widespread opinions that ISPs will eventually try to put the squeeze on the  big fat middle as well. JB


Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:21 PM
re: Consumption Check

Not bad, Seven.  Definitely got some decent usage going on, but at least you've still got some headroom. JB

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:10:18 PM
re: Consumption Check

If brookseven isn't over the cap then we're all safe. Just sayin'.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:10:17 PM
re: Consumption Check




 In case you didn't know, I host the site:




Let me know if you want the outtakes (hey that watter was cold).




DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:10:17 PM
re: Consumption Check

<plan backfired>

Dammit. Now I have to reply so this doesn't show up on the front page of LR.

</plan backfired>

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