AT&T announced yesterday that it's raising the data caps on its home broadband plans and offering a new unlimited option to customers.  This news comes as the carrier becomes poised to introduce its DirecTV service over the Internet later this year.

These new caps also come with increased enforcement however, meaning that more customers will have to pay $10 overage charges for each 50GB they use beyond their monthly limit, similar to Comcast's data cap system. Conversely, customers can skip that hassle and simply pay an extra $30 a month to upgrade their plan to include unlimited data. Then lastly there's the option to purchase both AT&T Internet and TV in a bundle and get unlimited for no extra charge.

AT&T revealed the news in a blog post titled "More Data, More Choices." It detailed information about the data caps as well as the associated overage charges, revealing that the maximum monthly overage charge is $100 and that customers will receive various warnings prior to actually being charged, which include:

- In the first bill cycle when you reach 100 percent of your data allowance, we’ll update you via email, but there will be no charges.
- In the second bill cycle, we will notify you via email at 65 percent, 90 percent, and 100 percent, and still without charges.
- In the third bill cycle, and each bill cycle thereafter, you’ll receive reminder emails at 65 percent and 90 percent. At 100 percent we will notify you and add an additional 50GB of data to your account for $10 each time you exceed the allowance. Customers will receive reminders about their data usage for the additional 50GB at 75 percent and 100 percent.

Of course, customers won't have to wait to receive notifications from AT&T. The carrier will be updating its online portal starting May 23 to allow customers to check their current usage data at any time. 

It should be noted that these changes only apply to home broadband plans. DSL connections, which run over regular phone lines, will continue to have a monthly limit of 150 gigabytes.

All of this comes at a time when an increasing number of carriers have been moving toward introducing data caps on broadband service. For example, Comcast has been testing caps in trials for the past few years and is increasing the number of areas to which it applies. As mentioned before, Comcast customers pay $10 for every 50GB above the limit, just like AT&T customers. It also has a method to allow customers to check their data usage, like AT&T plans to do, but reports of it not working properly have surfaced from time to time.

In related news, AT&T has also been charging fiber Internet customers higher prices if they don't opt into usage tracking and personalized ads.