AT&T Refuses to Share How it Calculates Capped Bandwidth Usage

dgstorm

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This news isn't directly Verizon related at all, but we thought it worth reporting just as industry intel. AT&T may be inaccurately measuring data cap usage. What makes it even worse is they refuse to share how they arrive with their calculations. An AT&T customer began to suspect that he was being capped unfairly regarding his data usage. Here's a quote with the details,

"As many of you know, AT&T has implemented caps on DSL usage. When this was implemented, I started getting emails letting me know my usage was likely to exceed the cap. After consulting their Internet Usage web page, I felt the numbers just weren't right. With the help of Tomato on my router, I started measuring my usage, and ended up with numbers substantially below what AT&T was reporting on a day-to-day basis. Typically around 20-30% less. By the way, this usage is the sum of inbound and outbound. At this point, I decided to contact AT&T support to determine what exactly they were defining as usage, as their web pages never really define it. Boy, did I get a surprise. After several calls, they finally told me they consider the methodology by which they calculate bandwidth usage to be proprietary. Yes, you read that right; it's a secret. They left me with the option to contact their executive offices via snail mail.

What is really perplexing about this issue is that it is not really new. In fact, the source of this article contacted AT&T about this same issue last year. Here's a quote with the gist of what happened then,

AT&T broadband users continue to claim there's something not quite right about the way AT&T calculates data usage for their capped DSL and U-Verse users. As Broadband Reports was the first to exclusively report last year, AT&T began imposing 150 GB caps on DSL users and 250 GB caps on U-Verse users -- with $10 per 50 GB overage fees. The move was unpopular due to the fact AT&T's landline network doesn't see much congestion, making the decision cash-hungry and punitive in nature.

The decision became even less popular after dozens of Broadband Reports readers reported that AT&T's meters aren't accurate. When we asked AT&T about the meter issues last year, the company insisted there was nothing wrong, and that they were more than happy to work with users one on one to correct what the company implied is user error or confusion: "We're happy to work one-on-one with any of your readers to walk through the measurement tool and address any questions," AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom tells Broadband Reports. "We're already addressing ways we can make the labels and information on the online tool more clear for customers between now and May...I can also assure you our team is performing checks everyday to ensure accuracy."

So much for AT&T's promise to become more transparent for their customers. Do any of you have similar experiences with them?

Source: DSLReports
 

johnomaz

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I'm glad I stuck with Charter for my internet and didn't go to UVerse when I got their TV service. I've had nothing but good luck with Charter and no plans on changing.

Also, is droidforums.net mostly a Verizon Android site? I mean, back in they day, Verizon had, for the most part, all the Android phones. But AT&T is now a major player as is most of the smaller service providers.
 
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dgstorm

dgstorm

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I'm glad I stuck with Charter for my internet and didn't go to UVerse when I got their TV service. I've had nothing but good luck with Charter and no plans on changing.

Also, is droidforums.net mostly a Verizon Android site? I mean, back in they day, Verizon had, for the most part, all the Android phones. But AT&T is now a major player as is most of the smaller service providers.

Overall, in the past we concentrated mostly on Verizon because Big Red was (and still is) the only carrier to get actual "Droid" branded devices. However, as you pointed out the industry has changed since we started, so we are now slowly widening our focus to be more all-inclusive of all things Android. Of course, our first love here at DroidForums.net is still the OG Droid, but that doesn't mean we can't get excited about all the other new tech that Android brings us. ;)
 

kocuba

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For the past 18 months or so when I go to check my usage I get this:

Your usage is not yet available for display. You should not be concerned about
your usage for billing purposes. AT&T will keep you informed about your data
usage via email.
 

jayman350

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glad I'm on comcast...

i don't think i have ever heard of anyone write/say/think that.... i hate comcast for so many of their business practices (kind of like how i almost never get a bill for the same amount twice), but i have not heard anything about their caps (i'm pretty sure i have a 250GB threshold, but i don't know what happens if i go over)
 

kodiak799

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Couldn't AT&T be dinging you for "idle" capacity? In other words, you don't get data transfers at constant rates. If your throughput drops from 10mbps to 6mbps, for a few seconds, can something else really slip in there or, in fact, iss what you're using or sold really a constant 10mbps from AT&T's perspective?

In other words, your modem measuring 70-80% of what AT&T does is really indicative of how efficiently you're using your bandwidth. So you reserved a peak of 10mbps when you began the download, but you actually only averaged 7-8mbps. But from AT&T's perspective you demanded 10mbps and what is "reserved" is what is used - you don't get a credit for unused bandwidth due to inefficiency of your download.

Just a thought. I'm sure that's mostly all wrong.
 

kodiak799

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On a related note, are people really surprised that you ditch your cable service and go data crazy with youtube and netflix and the cable companies don't just ignore what's happening to their bottom line?
 

xeene

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i don't think i have ever heard of anyone write/say/think that.... i hate comcast for so many of their business practices (kind of like how i almost never get a bill for the same amount twice), but i have not heard anything about their caps (i'm pretty sure i have a 250GB threshold, but i don't know what happens if i go over)
it's 300gb, they've raised the cap a few months ago. they don't do anything if you go over the cap as i've done it several times over the past few years.
 

geoff5093

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Couldn't AT&T be dinging you for "idle" capacity? In other words, you don't get data transfers at constant rates. If your throughput drops from 10mbps to 6mbps, for a few seconds, can something else really slip in there or, in fact, iss what you're using or sold really a constant 10mbps from AT&T's perspective?

In other words, your modem measuring 70-80% of what AT&T does is really indicative of how efficiently you're using your bandwidth. So you reserved a peak of 10mbps when you began the download, but you actually only averaged 7-8mbps. But from AT&T's perspective you demanded 10mbps and what is "reserved" is what is used - you don't get a credit for unused bandwidth due to inefficiency of your download.

Just a thought. I'm sure that's mostly all wrong.
Devices measure it in bytes sent/received, it doesn't "guess" your usage by assuming you are downloading at a certain speed.

My guess is that AT&T just rounds up. Say you download 2.59GB one day, they may round that up to 3GB at the end of the day.
 

jseah

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Devices measure it in bytes sent/received, it doesn't "guess" your usage by assuming you are downloading at a certain speed.

My guess is that AT&T just rounds up. Say you download 2.59GB one day, they may round that up to 3GB at the end of the day.

Actually since data uploads and downloads comes in bursts/packets, I would think that the rounding up happens at much smaller increments (i.e. you click on a hyperlink in a web page, it downloads the new web page and the size of that new web page downloaded is rounded up and counts as one "session"). If they are rounding up to the nearest MB, you could get screwed if you are just downloading 15 kb and they "charge" you 1 MB.
 
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