Increasingly, Internet providers across the country are placing limits on the amount of data users can download each month as a way to curb a small number of "bandwidth hogs" who use a lot of the network capacity.
For example, 5% of AT&T's subscribers take up 50% of the capacity, according to AT&T. AT&T will initially apply the limits in Reno, Nev., and see about extending the practice elsewhere.
Comcast, the nation's second-largest Internet service provider and AT&T's competitor in Reno, last month officially began a nationwide traffic limit of 250 gigabytes per subscriber. Comcast
doesn't charge people extra for going over the limit, but will cancel service after repeated warnings. Previously, it had a secret limit. (Very mysterious!)
Two other ISP's, Time Warner and FairPoint Communications, are planning or testing traffic limits as low as 5 gigabytes per month, which is easily exceeded by watchers of DVD-quality online video.
Among the largest ISPs, Verizon Communications is a holdout, and has said it does not plan to limit downloads.