In Reno, Nevada and Beaumont, Texas, AT&T has run a trial to charge DSL customers $1 per every gigabyte they exceeded their plan’s usage cap. However, they recently announced that their cap and additional usage charges were no longer being implemented. This is the second trial of usage-based broadband charges in the US, and the second to be abandoned, leaving no ISPs pushing the idea of metered broadband services at this time. Time Warner Cable also ran a trial of capped and metered internet charging in Beaumont, but abandoned its plans to extend the trial to other cities after a strong backlash from campaigners and politicians.
The interesting thing about the trial is that AT&T dropped it back on April 1st, but without making any public announcement or even telling customers. This may indicate two things: that metering internet usage is unpopular in general, and that targeting extra charges at the ‘bandwidth hogs’ is not cost-effective. Why should people in revenue assurance care either way? Because the flatter charging is, the simpler it is, and the less likelihood of error. On recent evidence, customers are pushing harder than ever for simple flat-rate tariffs, especially where they are already accustomed to getting them. Simple unmetered tariffs will suit those who feel the first goal is to ensure accuracy and please customers by making it easy for them to understand what they pay for, but may not suit those in RA who secretly want complexity because that gives them more problems and issues to untangle and makes assurance harder to do.