At AT&T, we want our customers to have information to more fully understand and enjoy the services we offer. To help keep customers informed about our mass market broadband Internet access services, the AT&T website (www.att.com) describes the mass market wireless and wired broadband Internet access services we offer. In this document, we provide information about the network practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms applicable to our mass market wired, mobile and Wi-Fi broadband Internet access services, consistent with the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Rules. This information should help customers make informed choices about how to use those services, and will assist providers of Internet applications, content and services in developing, marketing and maintaining their Internet offerings. We encourage mass market customers and other users of our network to familiarize themselves with this information, and to provide AT&T with feedback about our mass market broadband Internet access services so that we can continue to provide an excellent experience.
How does AT&T manage congestion with respect to its mass market broadband Internet access services?
AT&T strives to provide a high-quality Internet experience for all of our customers. Because the Internet consists of multiple interconnected networks and most Internet end points (e.g., websites and other content providers) are not directly connected to the AT&T network, AT&T must connect to and exchange traffic with other networks to provide its subscribers the capability of uploading data to or downloading data from Internet end points that are connected to those networks. To that end, AT&T has entered into commercially negotiated agreements to exchange traffic with those networks (and the networks with which those networks are connected) on mutually agreeable terms. The links AT&T and other networks use to exchange such traffic may become congested at times. Consistent with its agreements with those other networks and its long-standing practice, AT&T may establish or expand the connections between its network and other networks, but only on mutually agreeable terms. If AT&T is unable to reach agreement on terms of interconnection or network expansion with these other networks, it could affect customers’ ability to upload or download data to Internet endpoints connected to those networks. AT&T does not guarantee that it will establish or expand the connections between its network and other networks, or that subscribers will be able to upload data to or download data from Internet end points connected to other networks at any particular speed.
In addition, like the other networks that make up the Internet, the AT&T network is a shared network, which means that the transmission links and other network resources used to provide broadband services are shared among AT&T’s subscribers. AT&T manages this network for the benefit of all users based on a variety of factors, and our technical expertise. Nonetheless, temporary congestion may occur when a large number of customers in a concentrated area access the network at the same time or when some customers consume a very large amount of network capacity during busy periods, such as at stadium events, during peak usage times, or during planned network maintenance.
AT&T invests billions of dollars annually to address potential congestion in its broadband networks. We also have developed data plans for our wired and mobile broadband Internet access services so that our customers' rates better reflect their usage levels. AT&T provides usage calculators and other tools for our wired and mobile broadband Internet access services to assist customers in estimating their anticipated usage levels. In addition, we send notices to our customers when they are approaching the applicable usage thresholds for our tiered wired and mobile services. For more information, please click here (wired) and here (mobile).
As is common in the industry, we use network management practices and other tools to manage network resources for the benefit of all of our mobile broadband customers, especially during periods when network demand exceeds available network resources (also known as “congestion”). One such practice relates to a minority of smartphone customers who are on unlimited data plans. Specifically, if an unlimited data plan customer on a 3G, 4G, or 4G LTE smartphone exceeds a certain threshold of data usage in a billing period (3GB for 3G/4G and 5GB for 4G LTE), he or she may experience reduced data speeds and increased latency during periods of congestion as compared to other customers using the same cell site. Reduced speeds and increased latency may cause web sites to load more slowly or affect the performance of data-heavy activities such as high-definition video streaming or interactive gaming. However, an unlimited data plan customer will experience reduced speeds and increased latency only if he or she has already exceeded his or her threshold in a billing period and uses data at a cell site experiencing network congestion at the same moment. As soon as the congestion at the cell site abates, or if the customer’s session migrates to an uncongested cell site, speeds and latency are not affected. In addition, this network management practice adjusts dynamically to address the amount of congestion, which can start and stop over a very short time period (often measured in fractions of a second), further minimizing any customer impact. Because the amount of congestion at a cell site can vary significantly, the performance impact for the affected unlimited data plan customer may also vary significantly, but such impact will last only as long as the site is congested.
All such customers can still use unlimited data without being subject to overage charges, and their performance will be restored when they are no longer in an area experiencing congestion and at the start of the next billing cycle. We will notify customers during each billing cycle when they reach 75% of the applicable usage threshold (3GB for 3G/4G and 5GB for 4G LTE) so they can adjust their usage to avoid network management practices that may result in slower data speeds. Customers on tiered data or Mobile Share plans are not subject to these network management practices. For more information about this process, please see below and click here.
With the ever increasing growth in smart phone and tablet usage on our networks, and the growing prevalence of video downloads, AT&T has deployed a reasonable network management video optimization technique in our mobile data network. That technique delivers recorded video to the user's device in a "just in time" fashion (“Buffer Tuning”). Buffer Tuning only applies to internet browser traffic (HTTP, port 80) for recorded video downloads, regardless of the source (including AT&T branded or 3rd party content), and does not affect real-time streaming video. Without Buffer Tuning, video content may be completely delivered to the device and charged against the user's data plan regardless of whether it is viewed. With Buffer Tuning, a sufficient amount of video is delivered to the device so that the user can start viewing the video, and the remainder of the video is delivered just in time to the device as needed for uninterrupted viewing. This optimizes the user's data plan consumption. Additionally, this frees up network resources for all users. Buffer Tuning does not alter video content and should not directly introduce any adverse impact to the viewing experience.
Does AT&T favor certain Internet applications by blocking, throttling or modifying particular protocols on its broadband Internet access service?
No, AT&T does not favor certain Internet applications by blocking, throttling or modifying particular protocols, protocol ports, or protocol fields in ways not prescribed by the protocol standards. However, in response to a specific security threat against our network or our customers, AT&T may occasionally need to limit the flow of traffic from certain locations or take other appropriate actions. In addition, we prevent the use of certain ports on our wired and Wi-Fi broadband Internet access services to help protect our customers and network against malicious activity, as discussed below.
AT&T participates in the Copyright Alert System, which was created pursuant to an agreement amongst the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and many of the nation’s leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and is administered by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) – www.copyrightinformation.org. The program was established to respond to alleged copyright infringement activities using peer-to-peer file sharing, and attempts to educate customers about the importance of protecting copyright and lawful use of content available over the Internet. Under the program, content owners may notify AT&T of alleged copyright infringement based on the IP address of a user. AT&T then will attempt to identify a subscriber account based on that IP address and forward a copyright alert to the subscriber account, advising the account holder of the allegation and providing information about online copyright infringement. If a subscriber receives additional alerts, we may temporarily redirect the account holder’s broadband Internet access service to a webpage where the account holder must review material on the importance of copyright and the lawful use of content available over the Internet. Upon completion of this review, such redirection will be discontinued and the subscriber’s service will be restored to normal. Account holders’ personally identifiable information is protected throughout this process —AT&T will not provide such information to content owners unless required to do so by court order. For more information about AT&T’s Copyright Alert Program, please go to: https://copyright.att.net/home.
What practices has AT&T adopted to manage network security?
AT&T takes the security of our customers and our network very seriously. We proactively monitor network activity to help guard against a wide range of security threats, including viruses, botnets, worms, distributed denial of service attacks, SPAM, and other harmful activity. We encourage customers to adopt their own security practices.
If we detect a security threat, we will typically attempt to isolate the threat and minimize the impact to network service. We may use a variety of security measures to protect the network, including blocking malicious or unlawful traffic, redirecting the flow of traffic over some portions of our network, or taking other actions to address the threat. For example, we block certain ports that transfer malicious or disruptive communications (such as Ports 25, 135, 139 or 445). We attempt to limit actions to the specific portions of our network or customer base impacted by the security threat and only for as long as necessary to mitigate the threat.
AT&T may scan or analyze network addresses that are registered through AT&T, including addresses that may have been delegated to customers, and/or routes that originate from AT&T-provided networks to detect vulnerabilities that might be used to compromise AT&T or customer assets or might be used in attacks against others. In doing so, we seek to avoid disrupting network service to customers. We may use information derived from these activities to identify and address security issues or to notify customers of issues.
Does AT&T restrict the types of devices that customers can use with its mass market broadband Internet access services?
AT&T customers may use devices of their choice (PC, Smartphones, Tablets, Smart TV, etc.) to connect to our wired broadband Internet access service via the wiring at their home or business premises, or via Wi-Fi connected to their AT&T wired broadband Internet access service (connection options vary based on device capabilities). They also may attach 3G- or 4G-capable devices of their choice to our mobile broadband Internet access services, so long as the devices do not harm our network or other users. Consistent with AT&T’s plan to sunset its 2G network, we will not activate 2G-only capable devices. Our wired and Wi-Fi networks require compatible Ethernet or Wi-Fi capable devices. AT&T generally does not support IEEE2 802.11b or earlier Wi-Fi protocols. Devices must also be used in a manner consistent with our terms of service and Acceptable Use Policy.
For our mobile services, mass market customers will need to ensure that the device they wish to attach is FCC-approved and compatible with the technology used in our mobile network.
What factors affect the performance of my mass market broadband Internet access service?
AT&T offers many mass market broadband Internet access service options, each of which may have a different service capability speed. The term speed is commonly used as a shorthand way to describe the capacity at which a particular mass market broadband Internet access service can transmit data. This capacity is typically measured in the number of kilobits, megabits or gigabits that can be transmitted in one second (Kbps, Mbps or Gbps). Some applications, like a short email without attachments or basic web browsing, do not require high service capability speeds to function optimally. Other activities, like transferring large data files, can be performed faster with higher-speed services. Your service capability speed may not be suitable for some applications, particularly those involving real-time or near real-time, high-bandwidth uses such as streaming video or video conferencing.
Because service performance varies on an end-to-end basis, AT&T’s service capability speeds are limited to, and measured between, your location and a point on AT&T’s network, which constitutes only one segment of the end to end transmission path connecting your location to Internet websites or content providers. End-to-end performance of your service depends on a variety of factors, including: the number of subscribers simultaneously using the network; customer location; destination and traffic on the Internet; Wi-Fi connectivity; the capabilities and performance of your Local Area Network (LAN); interference with high frequency spectrum on your telephone line; wiring inside your premises, office or apartment; the capacity or performance of your devices or modem; the server with which you are communicating; internal network management factors (including overhead, which refers to the various control and signaling data required to achieve the reliable transmission of Internet access data); and the networks you and others are using when communicating.
AT&T offers a wide variety of services to its customers (including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Internet Protocol (IP)-video, unified messaging, Voice over LTE (VoLTE), enterprise networking services, and other services), which share AT&T’s network infrastructure and may affect the availability of network resources for broadband Internet access services. Your use of these services may affect the performance of your mass market broadband Internet access service. In addition, although AT&T engineers its network to accommodate all users and user types based on a variety of factors, including average and anticipated peak usage of the network, many factors cannot be anticipated or are outside of AT&T’s control. These factors can impact the availability of network resources for mass market broadband Internet access services at any particular time. Consequently, AT&T does not guarantee the performance of your service on an end-to-end basis.
Other factors that are relevant to specific services include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Wired Services. Service performance may be affected by the wiring inside your premises, the distance between your premises and an AT&T central office, the capabilities of your computer, and the applications you use. In addition, to provide our U-verse customers with a consistently high-quality video service, the speed of AT&T U-verse broadband Internet access service may be temporarily reduced when a customer is using his or her U-verse video service in a manner that requires high bandwidth. Please click here for our U-verse High-Speed Internet Access Terms of Service.
- Mobile Services. Service performance may be affected by your proximity to a cell site, the capacity of the cell site, the number of other users connected to the same cell site and the services they are using, the surrounding terrain, use inside a building or a moving vehicle, radio frequency interference, the capabilities of your device, applicable network management practices as discussed above, and the applications you use. In addition, AT&T has designed its wireless services to provide our customers with a high-quality voice experience during simultaneous voice and data sessions, which may affect data performance, including but not limited to a temporary reduction in speed to minimize the likelihood of dropped calls.
- Wi-Fi Services. Wi-Fi hot spots are generally provided at a given site on behalf of the business owner or operator for the benefit of their patrons. It is common practice that the Internet access is shared between both the business’ patrons and the business’ operational traffic. In some instances, business operational traffic may be prioritized to minimize the potential impact on critical communications, such as credit card processing. This prioritization may intermittently impact the speed available. Additionally, service performance may be affected by your proximity to a Wi-Fi hot spot, the capacity of the Wi-Fi equipment at the hot spot, the number of other users connected to the same site, the composition of the building where the hot spot is located (wood, concrete, etc.), radio frequency interference, the capabilities of your Wi-Fi capable device, the Internet connection to the Wi-Fi hot spot, per-user bandwidth limits used to provide fair Internet access at a hot spot, and speed tier options made available at the hot spot.
Where can I find information about the speed and latency of my mass market broadband Internet access service?
Because many different factors can affect the performance of your mass market broadband Internet access service, AT&T does not guarantee specific levels of speed or latency for our mass market broadband Internet access services. We strive to manage our network to provide you optimal performance. The performance you can expect to receive from the mass market broadband Internet access services we offer is described below.
- Wired Service. AT&T offers mass market wired broadband Internet access services in discrete speed tiers. Our mass market wired broadband Internet access customers should expect to see service capability speeds within the speed tier of their service plan. For example, a customer with AT&T's High Speed Internet Elite Service should expect service capability download speeds between 3.1 and 6.0 Mbps. Please click here to learn more. To find out which speed tier is well-suited for the types of applications you use most often, please click here.
- The table below sets forth average, actual download and upload speeds for AT&T’s mass market wired broadband Internet access services, by speed tier, based on data compiled by the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America (MBA) initiative between January 2014 and June 2014. Note: not all available speed tiers from AT&T are measured in the FCC MBA process. For more information about the FCC’s MBA initiative, including how speeds are measured, go to www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america.
AT&T Wired Broadband Metric Averages Jan-Jun 2014 by Speed Tier
(Download x Upload in Mbps)
Download Speed (Mbps)
Upload Speed (Mbps)
- Mobile Service. AT&T does not offer mass market mobile broadband Internet access service in different speed tiers, nor do we guarantee particular speeds. Speeds available on our mass market mobile broadband Internet access service are affected by many different factors that can impact wireless network performance as discussed above. Based on AT&T’s analysis of independent third party testing of actual network performance, AT&T expects customers will typically experience the following speeds, subject to location, device, and other factors as discussed above:
Download (in Mbps)
Upload (in Mbps)
.5 to 3
.5 to 1
2 to 6
.8 to 1
5 to 20
3 to 10
- Wi-Fi Service. AT&T's mass market Wi-Fi broadband Internet access service is designed to provide customers with the highest speed available from the network at any given point in time, subject to the many different factors discussed above that can affect network performance. AT&T's Wi-Fi services generally support the IEEE 802.11n/ac standard, with some AT&T locations also supporting the IEEE 802.11a/b/g standard. Although the IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standards have theoretical maximum speeds ranging from over 10 Mbps to over a gigabit per second, actual Wi-Fi service speeds will be substantially lower than the theoretical maximum speeds which describe the physical throughput rate including Wi-Fi protocol communications; the result is that the theoretical maximum speed you can receive is 40%-50% of the quoted Wi-Fi standard speed. In addition to the factors discussed above, the actual speed you experience over Wi-Fi will depend in part on the speed of the connection between the Wi-Fi hotspot you are accessing and the destination you want to reach on the Internet, which may be significantly below the theoretical maximum speed of the service. For more information about AT&T's mass market Wi-Fi broadband Internet access services, please click here.
Latency, also known as delay, is the amount of time from when a data packet is sent to when it is received. For mass market broadband Internet access services, latency is usually expressed as the round-trip time in milliseconds (ms) that it takes for a data packet to travel between two end points on the Internet (from point A to point B and then back to point A). Some applications, such as email, can tolerate a substantial amount of latency without any noticeable impact on the application's performance. Other applications, such as real-time video conferencing, require lower latency to function properly. End-to-end latency reflects the cumulative effect of the individual latencies that occur along the end-to-end network path.
Though latencies can vary due to several factors, including some beyond AT&T's control, our mass market broadband Internet access service customers can typically expect the following round-trip latencies when accessing the Internet:
- Wired Service:
AT&T Wired Broadband Metric Averages Jan-Jun 2014 by Speed Tier
(Download x Upload in Mbps)
UDP Latency (ms)
Source: SamKnows/FCC MBA Initiative
- Mobile Service:
Time in milliseconds
107 to 223
85 to 166
57 to 95
- Wi-Fi Service: approximately 10 to 250 milliseconds
Where can I find the prices and other fees that apply to the AT&T mass market broadband Internet access services?
Descriptions of the prices and fees applicable to the AT&T mass market broadband Internet access services are available on the AT&T website. For more information, please see the following:
Rates and Data Plan Pricing Information
- Consumer Wired Rates and Data Plans
- Consumer Mobile Rates and Data Plans
- Small Business Wired Rates
- Small Business Mobile Rates and Data Plans
- Wi-Fi Rates
Early Termination Fees
- Consumer Mobile Early Termination Fees
- Consumer Wired Early Termination Fees
- Small Business Wired Early Termination Fees
- Small Business Mobile Early Termination Fees
- Wi-Fi Small Site, Wi-Fi On-the-Go, and Wi-Fi Ready Zone products do not have Early Termination Fees
Where can I find the Terms of Service and the Acceptable Use Policy that apply to the AT&T mass market broadband Internet access services?
The Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy applicable to the AT&T mass market broadband Internet access services are available on the AT&T website at the following links:
Terms of Service
Acceptable Use Policy
Where can I get assistance if I have a concern or need more information about my AT&T broadband Internet access service?
If you have questions or concerns about your mass market AT&T broadband Internet access service, please contact us at www.att.com/econtactus.
Where can application developers and device manufacturers get more information about developing applications or devices for use on the AT&Tmobile network?
If you are an application developer or device manufacturer, AT&T has a wide range of tools and resources available to help you design, test, and market your applications or devices. Please click here to visit our website for application developers, and click here to visit our website for device manufacturers.
Where can I get assistance if I have a concern or need more information about peering with AT&T?
If you have questions about peering with AT&T, please contact us at http://www.corp.att.com/peering.
Last updated: June 12, 2015.