Unlimited broadband with 'fair use policies' unfair, uSwitch claims

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The service comparison site uSwitch has called for the Advertising Standards Agency to act against companies who offer ‘unlimited’ broadband but have a so-called Fair Usage Policy (FUP) in place.

It claims that many users are unaware of these FUPs, and believe that they have no download limits. That’s usually not the case.

Many of these FUPs are created with the best of intentions – to ensure that people using large amounts of bandwidth don’t spoil the broadband experience for other users. However, users can currently be cut off without warning, or severely restricted, for ‘excessive use’ of their connection particularly during peak times.

“If these policies are to be classed as ‘fair’, broadband companies need to clearly define these limits and explain to customers what will happen when they are exceeded,” said Steve Weller, head of communication services at uSwitch.

The rise in high-bandwidth services such as video on demand and Internet TV mean that more users could be stung with these invisible limits.

uSwitch has called for a common FUP standard to be introduced, and for compulsory alerts to be sent to users when disconnection is imminent.

ISPs with FUPs include AOL, BT, Be, Orange, Pipex, Sky, Virgin Media, Tiscali, and Toucan.

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Andy Merrett

6 comments

  • alick, fast4 are not unlimited, take their broadband terms on fair use policy:
    11.2 To ensure we offer all our customers the best possible service, we apply the following restrictions. We continuously monitor our networks to ensure that congestion is not occurring. If usage is such that it is significantly affecting service to other users we will instigate congestion control measures. Heavy-usage applications such as continuous Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing, streaming video, binary downloads or other intensive uses are not acceptable. Where the Service has been deemed to have been used inappropriately or indeed illegally to the detriment of the overall Service, we reserve the right to take action against this account.

  • fast4.net are 100% unlimited with NO fair use policy and they only charge £15 per month im with them and found them superb so hope that will help peeps

  • these company accepted money from customer continu to sell more conetions but don’t seem to have the bandwith ther selling so insted of upgrade to meat the demand thay are accepting money for thay make up this FUP to try and put the blame on there customers “way to build customer relations “

    eney one know a good company that dusent do this but still at a resanbul price

  • I agree ! Im with Tiscali just now, and cannot download at ANY time of the day, only surf. The only time i get to download it when i wake up (7.30) and runs till 9, where i get cut off; or at night, but my PC sounds like a tornado 🙁

    I bought “Unlimited*”, means there is NO limit. One thing i do love is the “*” beside it ! I didnt pay for the “xGB limit”; i got the UNLIMITED? Yet they cut us off. But apparently, before you get cut off, your supposed to receive an email telling you to cut down, i cant say the dog ate it !

    I can only find out ISP, that offers 8MB, TRULY unlimited, even states on the site; NO FUP.. But its kinda £80 a month !

    I’ll be glad when i move…

  • This is disgraceful. Having had problems for a few weeks I raised a help call with BT who THEN told me they had restricted my service, and refuse to restore it till there is 3 months of lower usage.

    I pay for “Unlimited”, there is no doubt about the defenition of unlimited. It’s fraud.

  • Hold on, I think that the whole fair use policy thing is wrong. It’s like upgrading your Ford to a Lambo, but the salesman says you’re only allowed to use the extra speed for five miles. What? I’m paying for the extra bandwidth, what should it matter if I then have the cheek to use it? And yes, I’ve seen the throttling in action. Towards the end of the monthly period, my speeds reduce at certain periods of the day. Grrr!

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