Suddenlink Gears Up For Broadband Caps, Overage Fees

Suddenlink Communications is planning to introduce bandwidth limits and overage charges for broadband subscribers -- similar to those imposed by AT&T this summer -- starting with its Amarillo, Texas, system according to an internal MSO document posted on blog site

Suddenlink representatives declined to comment on the post.

Under the operator's new policy, users will incur a $10 charge for every 50-Gigabyte increment they exceed predetermined monthly bandwidth-usage allowances, according to the Suddenlink document, which was prepared as a guide for customer-service representatives.

Suddenlink will cap subscribers who have plans providing download speeds of less than 10 Mbps at 150 GB per month, while those on 10, 15 or 20 Mbps downstream tiers will have a 250 GB allowance. Customers with 50 and 107 Mbps service will be capped at 350 GB.

That's in line with AT&T's bandwidth limits, which went into effect May 2. The telco limits regular DSL customers to 150 GB of data uploaded or downloaded per month, while U-verse Internet DSL customers are capped at 250 GB. Users are charged $10 for each 50 GB used beyond the caps.

Among other operators, Comcast limits all users to 250 GB of monthly usage, and Cox Communications and Charter Communications impose limits as well, but none of them currently charges cap-busters any overage fees.

The Suddenlink document says that fewer than 1% of customers would be in danger of exceeding their allowance, and notes that customers are not billed for going over their monthly bandwidth-usage allotment until the third overage.

The MSO plans to mail letters to Suddenlink residential Internet customers in affected markets, and the company will launch a website with additional information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Once a market goes live with the bandwidth caps, Suddenlink will alert customers when they first exceed their limits. Additional notifications will be sent each time an account reaches 80% of its monthly allowance and again when it exceeds 100%; customer accounts will not be billed for exceeding their monthly allowance until the third overage.