Funny what a little competition from AT&T U-Verse will do...
Lawrence, Kansas based Sunflower Broadband
(see our user reviews
) was among the first to implement the idea of low caps and high overages ($2 for each additional gigabyte). Over the last year however the company has slowly been raising their caps as AT&T begins pushing uncapped U-Verse service harder into their markets. Last October (see screenshot
) their caps were 3 GB, 15GB and 50 GB for their 1.5 Mbps, 7 Mbps, and 21 Mbps tiers respectively. As of January those caps were 3, 25 and 120 GB, and now they've been bumped to 3, 50 and 250 GB (for 50 Mbps) notes Stop The Cap
On the low end, the Bronze plan still charges $17.95 per month for 3Mbps/256kbps service with a three gigabyte allowance . The Silver plan $29.95 per month received a speed and allowance upgrade. Up from 7Mbps to 10Mbps, the monthly limit has now doubled to 50 GB per month. Upload speeds remain an anemic 256kbps, however. The biggest change comes for Gold plan users. For $59.95 per month, the company offers 50/1Mbps service with a considerably more generous allowance 250GB per month, up from 120GB
While Sunflower's DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades and competition have them easing up on the caps, their upstream speeds remain fairly anemic. Amazing enough, it becomes more difficult to overcharge users for bandwidth (and $2 per gigabyte is over-charging, however you slice it) once you begin to see additional competition in your markets. This also highlights how difficult it will be to migrate the U.S. industry from a flat rate to a metered billing (again, not to be confused with pure pay per byte
) model, given that uncapped service can be marketed as a simpler alternative to the consumer.
As we noted back in January
, Sunflower is also still doing something we've never seen before. The company is offering an uncapped tier for $44.95 (bundled, $54.95 standalone) that offers no real guaranteed speed. The tier is advertised as capless with "variable" downstream and upstream speeds, which our forum users indicate
are often between 1-4 Mbps downstream and between 128 kbps and 512 kbps upstream. While Sunflower insists this tier is "optimized for video," you may or may not even be able to stream HD content at those speeds.