AT&T Broadband opts for tiered pricing

The company offers a faster and pricier cable Internet access dubbed UltraLink, set to debut in cities including Dallas, Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.

AT&T Broadband is offering a faster and pricier level of cable Internet access, dubbed UltraLink.

The service, which was launched Thursday in cities including Dallas, Denver, Salt Lake City, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, is the latest in the cable industry's efforts to move to tiered pricing. Markets including Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Portland, Ore., will get UltraLink later this summer, and other regions such as the Northeast will get it later this year.

UltraLink provides Internet access with a downstream of 3 megabits per second and an upstream of 384 kilobits per second for $79.99 per month. The service costs $82.99 per month for customers who lease a modem from the company. Other cable companies offer tiered services with pricing ranging from $29.95 to about $75.

AT&T Broadband's current service offers speeds of 1.5mbps downstream and 256kbps upstream for $42.95 a month. Customers who lease modems from the company pay $45.95 per month.

The company drew fire late last year when it cut the speed for former Excite@Home users who were considered "bandwidth hogs." The company's latest move restores some of the speed, but at a higher price.

AT&T Broadband said UltraLink will serve power users, which it described as those who have "set up home networks, send or receive large files such as when downloading software, or enjoy other bandwidth-intensive applications."

Later this year, the company plans to test a lower-speed tier of Internet service for consumers who merely want to upgrade from dial-up access.

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