12 September, 2008

AT&T gets on the bandwagon with network slowdown practices

AT&T has released new information that they will also start degrading customer network throughput for those that use more than what AT&T would consider average. You can read all the terms of service on the AT&T site.

Here are some highlights in order of appearance, followed by my commentary:
Broadband access is provided in speed tiers of:
(1) 200 Kbps to 768 Kbps downstream (not available for AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet service)
(2) 769 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps downstream
(3) 1.56 Mbps to 3.0 Mbps downstream
(4) 3.1 Mbps to 6.0 Mbps downstream;
(5) 6.1 Mbps to 10.0 Mbps (available only with AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet service) (collectively “Service Capability Speeds”)...

... AT&T Uverse High Speed Internet throughput speeds may be temporarily reduced when a customer is using other U-verse services in a manner that requires high bandwidth. This could occur more often with higher speed Internet access products. ... While this performance optimization process will prevent some customers from obtaining the maximum downstream speed capability, service capability speed will not be set lower than the service tier you have purchased.
Isn't that the entire purpose of buying a higher speed plan, to avoid slow down? Just to be clear though, AT&T is actually selling you a minimum speed of service, which know that is better than some providers. The real test is how frequently does this happen. Is it infrequent enough to allow the advertisement of the higher speed or should the lower speed really be the only speed referred to? Only time will tell.

With that being said though, I think we need to recognize this is a better solution that what Comcast has offered, which is one speed for everyone, and if you violate it, then your service is terminated for one year.

Since I was looking at the Ts & Cs, I thought I'd highlight 3 others.
a. No Resale. The Service is provided for your use only (unless otherwise specifically stated) and you agree not to reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, transfer, trade, resell or exploit for any commercial purposes.
It looks as if you're okay to have an open wi-fi hotspot.

b. Copyright Infringement & Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You are prohibited from infringing, publishing, submitting, copying, uploading, downloading, posting, transmitting...
Isn't this a bit redundant. AT&T is not the government. Seems like the next step is AT&T will be monitoring our traffic, to make sure we are in compliance. We'd better keep an eye on this one.

c. Use by Children. ... children under the age of 13 will not be permitted to access the Site or Service unless added as a Sub Account by a Member Account holder who is their legal guardian. ... AT&T also recommends that you remain diligent in the supervision of any minors...
I had to point this out, as it seems odd that AT&T would include anything about how to rear your children. It's a statement of opinion; it doesn't belong in a Terms of Service Agreement.

Despite some of these other odd conditions, overall I believe that AT&T is currently better to deal with than Comcast. In other words, given the choice, I'd take AT&T.

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