AT&T Changes TOS to Limit Mobile Video

Just one day after announcing plans to subsidize netbooks, AT&T wised up to the fact that those netbooks and connections could be used to download movies and enjoy other bandwidth-intensive applications. To avoid bogging down their network, the company revised its data plan service terms to single out and prohibit “downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, customer initiated redirection of television or other video or audio signals via any technology from a fixed location to a mobile device, [and] web broadcasting….” The license agreement further prohibits tethering the device to PCs or other equipment.

That’s a pretty strict set of rules. We have to wonder how diligent AT&T is going to be at enforcing these rules. After all, the new terms of service seems to limit applications such as SlingPlayer, Qik, Skype, and Jaikuspot, which many AT&T customers are currently using without issue.

The new terms of service also outlines the charges you’ll incur if you exceed your DataConnect Plan allowance: Under the 5GB DataConnect Plan, once you exceed your allotment, you’ll be charged $0.00048 per Kb for any data used. The 200MB Data Connect Plan’s fees are a bit different—after exceeding your allowance, you’ll be charged $10 for an additional 100MB. Unused data won’t be carried over to the next month for either plan.

The new netbooks may not be the only reason for AT&T’s terms of service changes. In February, a Chicago-based AT&T subscriber was charged international viewing rates totaling $28,067.31 for viewing a football game on his laptop using an AT&T data card. The trouble is, the customer was in Miami and not at sea, so international rates should not have applied. After a Chicago newspaper got involved, the customer’s bill was reduced significantly, but you can bet AT&T is looking to avoid a similar fiasco in the future.

Here's a quick look at the current wording on AT&T's terms of service limitations around this subject area.  They're not exactly what you'd call "customer-friendly."  If you'd like to save the eye strain, click the image for the high res view...

AT&T Wireless Data Service Agreement, Prohibited and Permissable Usages
Credit:  AT&T Wireless

Just makes you want to run right out there and pick up that AT&T-infused netbook, doesn't it?

Update:  12:51AM US EST:  This post on Engadget seems to indicate that AT&T Wireless has since retracted these new terms but in fact, if you look at the live site right here (scroll down to the Prohibited and Permissible Uses section) , that is indeed NOT the case.  We're waiting to see if this verbiage really is taken down because as of right now, it doesn't appear to be an "error".