Tuesday, July 22, 2008

AT&T to Change Broadband Marketing Language

At the Federal Communications Commission Pittsburgh broadband hearing, AT&T Senior Federal Regulatory Vice President Robert Quinn is reported by Broadband Reports to have said the company would in the future stop advertising speeds "up to" a specified rate, and would instead "strive to provide service within the speed tier purchased by the customer."

When AT&T finds it is not providing service within the ordered speed tier, AT&T will take action either to bring the customer's service within the ordered tier or give the customer an option to move to a different tier," he said.

Today, customers can order service "up to 7Mbps" tier, while plant conditions limit them to lower real-world bandwidth. Under the new scheme, customers will be offered the expected speed the plant supports, and then supplied with the higher speeds actually possible on their chosen plans.

AT&T also says it will supply customers information about how much bandwidth various applications consume, so they can choose the right plans. To Broadband Reports, that sounds like a precursor to some form of usage-based billing. It may well be. AT&T has been pretty clear that usage will play a bigger role in future access plans. That is an issue many will argue about.

But giving users a better understanding of their bandwidth requirements is a good thing, as is the policy of selling actual service that matches the marketing claims.

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