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ExtraTorrent.cc > Articles > UK Price Comparison Site Criticizes ISPs’ “Unlimited” Broadband

UK Price Comparison Site Criticizes ISPs’ “Unlimited” Broadband

UK Price Comparison Site Criticizes ISPs’ “Unlimited” Broadband

Added: Saturday, June 19th, 2010
Category: Bit Torrent Freedom > The Right To Share
Tags:ET, p2p, Torrent, Piracy, Peer To Peer, Network, Hackers, Internet, BitTorrent, Google, utorrent, bitcomet, extratorrent, 2010, www.extrattorrent.com
uSwitch, the online UK website offering “impartial” comparisons on a long list of services and products, is warning that the users’ growing appetite for online video streaming and gaming will lead them to facing the risk of being disconnected for over usage of their limit even though ISPs claim their service to be “unlimited”.


uSwitch has recently carried out a survey which revealed a disparity between what Internet users consider their monthly traffic usage allowance is and what ISPs actually allow. This problem wasn’t so severe earlier, but with consumers starting to spend about 2 hours per week on online streaming films, TV shows or playing video games, it is now becoming much easier to over use the monthly allotment.

While online entertainment services quietly eating into usage limits, over 8,000,000 users, (which makes almost the half of their population) don’t even know their monthly limit. This undoubtedly places them at risk of getting their broadband limited or suspended, and maybe even disconnected by their ISP. Moreover, another half mistakenly thinks their broadband is absolutely “unlimited,” although in reality their consumption is being monitored and limited if believed to become excessive by the service provider.

The only ISP claiming that there’s really no limit to its unlimited service seems to be the Sky, while the rest Internet providers advertise “Unlimited” broadband, at the same time keeping silence about a “Fair Usage Policy,” which in fact limits the usage. The policy reads different from ISP to ISP, but generally says that the provider has the right to limit a user’s broadband service if his/her usage is excessive. By the way, very few ISPs give any definition to the term “excessive,” thus making it theoretically impossible for a user to understand the exact point or over usage. Although the policies fail to specify the allotment for the customers, once reaching the limit the user may find that the speed has been slowed down. Moreover, after receiving a warning, the consumers continuing to “over use” the traffic may even be charged extra for that or just find themselves cut off.

The survey showed that about 2,000,000 users have already been warned for getting too close to their broadband limit and 350,000 (2% of overall) have been charged extra fee for exceeding it.

June 19th, 2010

Posted by: 

Date:  Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Comments (13) (please add your comment »)

posted by Kitty (2010-06-19 12:48:45)
Daewoo avatarIt is simply because in the UK ISPs are allowed to lie. This nonsense has been challenged before, but for some strange reason 'unlimited' means the opposite of the dictionary definition. I quit one ISP and refused to pay the early termination fee as their advertised product was misleading. I told them to take me to court and I'd give them an 'unlimited' amount of money. Needless to say, they didn't take me up on my offer.

posted by (2010-06-19 15:14:36)
katep avatarwell fact is in uk the broadband infrastructure is crap and most of the country cannot even get a good speed thats why they are putting in cash for fibre optic to be built up so the whole country is getting good speeds but I dont think that cash will survive the cuts that are coming

even today I got a letter from virgin get unlimited Internet to download movies and games for £10 when I know for a fact there is no unlimited net on virgin

posted by (2010-06-19 16:02:07)
dvdking44 avatarhi all am on virgin and download over 150 gb a mounth and mine is unlimted i get 20 mb speed all the time and they dont throttel bandwith ether

posted by Blocked (2010-06-19 17:30:41)
Flaming_Phoenix avatarsome articles on Indian ISPs would be useful...thanx...

posted by (2010-06-20 02:17:28)
wicket avatardvdking virgin do have a fair usage policy,i suggest you read it you will be suprised.
BTW they do throttle you.

posted by Blocked (2010-06-20 06:14:38)
menahunie avatarWow you Brits always called us Yanks nuts; BUT when the word "unlimited" doesn't really mean "unlimited"; what does it really mean?
I put it in the same catagory as the "new Math" or "ebonics" they teach - jeez.
The point is the ISP's have over sold and over loaded their networks due to not upgrading or improving it to mainly extract as much profit as possible. They use a term "fair Use" to screw their clients when they signed up for "unlimited Braidband"; their version of what "unlimited" is apparently way different than what you and I know to what "unlimited" really means, like what we all ( I hope ) were taught in school English Classes and not the elitists schools where they teach the word only means what you say it means.
Look at the article below I found and it should answer allot of questions as to why this is happening and it should also make you mad as hell.

* News
* Technology

What does 'unlimited' mean?

When it comes to broadband, it almost certainly doesn't mean what you think it does. As SA Mathieson reports, ISPs are increasingly managing how customers connect

* Digg it
* Buzz up
* Share on facebook
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* SA Mathieson
* The Guardian, Thursday 1 February 2007
* Article history

There's no such thing as a free lunch. And despite what you may have seen in adverts, there's no such thing as an "unlimited" home broadband account, either. One person who discovered this was Stuart Aspland, an NTL Telewest customer in Swansea. Every evening, he'd start using his "unlimited use" 10 megabit per second (Mbps) service; and every evening, its speed would halve after about 20 minutes.

"Technical support tried to tell me there was no such problem," he says. It suggested he restart his connection. He did - and the connection speed halved after 20 minutes. Aspland was almost certainly seeing the results of efforts by NTL Telewest to shape users' data demands. NTL Telewest recently started a technical trial which halves the connection speeds of some 10Mbps users in Swansea, after several months doing so in and around Preston and Blackpool. "We look for abnormal traffic, such as continuous and full use of the downstream over a prolonged period before halving that user's speed," says NTL Telewest. This will return to normal "after a short period unless the abnormal traffic continues. So there's no capping and no cutting off of services."

In an era when we're led to think that bandwidth is plentiful, why is there capping at all? Most ISPs rely on BT Wholesale to do some or all of the work connecting users to their central systems. In 2004, BT Wholesale started offering services priced mainly by capacity - the amount of data that can be carried every second - rather than the number of users or amount of data moved. Angus Flett of BT Wholesale says it now bills most big ISPs this way.

ISPs have to manage users' demands if they are to offer simple-to-understand but cheap services. They do so partly by relying on most customers wanting only a few gigabytes of data each month. But they also have to stop heavy users from overloading their capacity, particularly at busy times. ISPs including Tiscali and Carphone Warehouse connect many users directly to their own networks through local loop unbundling (although often using BT wires between exchanges and these networks) while NTL Telewest has its own cable network, called Blueyonder. But again, the cost of equipment and maintenance is linked to capacity.

Heavy users

To avoid their networks being overloaded, ISPs have introduced techniques such as traffic shaping to slow the heaviest users. "Two or three years ago, 'unlimited' meant something different," says Andrew Ferguson of thinkbroadband.com. "ISPs would tolerate people who really caned a connection for a month - people who used 300, 400, 500GB." But now, he says, many ISPs make it tricky to download more than 40GB. ISPs say these techniques improve the service for most users at the expense of a small minority, such as those making heavy use of peer-to-peer software. Some peer-to-peer users attempt to disguise their traffic through encryption, to avoid traffic shaping.

With fast download speeds, a few heavy users can have a big impact. PlusNet provided Guardian Technology with data for the average usage of each 10% of its customers in December, as well as each percentile of the top tenth. The resulting curve may be less steep than for other ISPs, as it has been traffic-shaping for more than 18 months, but Neil Armstrong, products director, says: "We do have plenty of customers downloading several hundred gigabytes a month; as long as they do it overnight, we don't mind." The top 1% each used an average of 120.94GB, nearly double the 66.03GB used by the next percentile. The average customer used 6.19GB, although removing the heaviest 10% of users cuts that to 2.35GB.

PlusNet caters for heavy users with what could be called a "time-capped" account: it allows users to download 20GB per month between 4pm and midnight, and any amount outside those times. It doesn't use the word "unlimited": "We think unlimited broadband is a complete myth," says Armstrong. "You can only do it by lying to your customers, as the economics don't work."

It prioritises traffic through deep packet inspection, which recognises the kind of software using a connection. Online gaming and Voice over IP phone calls get the most reliable service, then email and web-surfing, then peer-to-peer transfers. Users who exceed their monthly caps go to the back of the queue, but can monitor online how much data they have used, and through which kinds of software.

Jody Haskayne of Tiscali, which labels all its services as "unlimited, subject to fair-use policy", says it cuts the speed of peer-to-peer software when necessary, although not below 10% of the available bandwidth. She adds that most customers use less than 3GB a month, and that telephone complaints about traffic shaping do not enter the top 20 queries. "We have tried capped products in the past," she says. "But customers didn't really understand what they could do."

Some ISPs charge for excess use rather than cutting people off. BT Total Broadband emails such customers, suggesting they upgrade to a higher-volume account. If they do not, from the second month of overuse it charges 30p per gigabyte over the limit. Pipex, Madasafish and Nildram have formal pay-as-you-go plans.

Ferguson of thinkbroadband.com says pay-as-you-go provides clear rules. But the fair-use policies under which demand management is enforced are usually opaque: "If I queue up three or four films and they all download, does that kick me into traffic-shaping?" he says. Mark Jackson, editor of ISPReview.co.uk, says: "This tactic is being employing by an increasing majority of mainstream providers and while the definitions and policies may differ, they almost all share one thing in common: a lack of specific detail."

Following the rules

Some ISPs do publish their rules. For example, Entanet, which has around 60,000 broadband customers, says that when its network's five-minute average usage hits 96% capacity, it cuts the speed of all 8Mbps users by 0.5Mbps, repeating this every minute until capacity drops below 96% or the speed reaches 2Mbps.

In future, more ISPs may sell services with appropriately tailored download speeds. BT Total Broadband says films and television programmes bought from its BT Vision service will not count towards usage caps - unlike material from free services such as YouTube and Joost.

For those who feel unfairly caught out by traffic shaping, persistence may be required. Aspland - who used to work for NTL Telewest - realised he had been caught in the half-speed trial.

He asked to move to a £24.99, 4Mbps connection from his £34.99-a-month, 10Mbps - although usually 5Mbps - service. Then he threatened to cancel broadband, phone and high-definition television. Result: the customer retention department halved his broadband charge and cut the other costs, and he relented. But Aspland still wants his fast connection back. "I've always recommended friends use NTL," he says. "The customer service may be rubbish, but the broadband is great."

posted by Blocked (2010-06-20 06:18:21)
menahunie avatarI forgot to mention re read the third sentence from the bottom real slow and it should really piss you off....

posted by ET junkieET loverTurtle (2010-06-20 11:42:09)
fusseltier avatarif you pay for a connection than they cant tell you that you use it too much.
if you have a 5mbps connection, you should be able to use it at 5mbps continuous, regardless. its a fixed bandwidth and doesnt have any effect on other people.
after all, people arent on ethernet LANs they are using xDSL and its the operators responsibility to provide the necessary bandwidth for what they sell.

posted by (2010-06-20 12:47:26)
wylde avatarISPs in Australia operate exactly the same way.. Unlimited as long as you don't break the AUP (Acceptable usage policy) which, for one company Exetel, was 3 times the average user - turned out to be about 185GB - very poor show.

Absolute rubbish. Unlimited means unlimited, and no matter what the fine print says, companies should not be able to advertise unlimited packages unless they fully comply with that word's meaning. Disgusting.

A 1.5Mbps line should get you around 450GB per month if you were to d/l flat-out 24/7. Downloading on a 512kbps line the same way should get you about 150GB a month. ISPs need to do some math with connection speeds before offering unlimited. The whole speed/data limits/shaping/plans/contract system is a total monopoly in this country, with 100% of the expense and conveinence against the end user.

posted by (2010-06-20 12:55:09)
Mandelbrot avatarVirgin Media, so far works for me. No speed throttle yet as far as I`ve noticed. Thanks Sam.

posted by Turtle (2010-06-23 00:06:30)
D4T4 avatar@menahunie, don't believe everything you read in the papers, especially not "The Guardian". Very few people get throttled or capped and if they do, one phone call to terminate the contract is usually enough. We can live with this so long as they don't adopt the American system of divulging our identities at the drop of a hat. The three strikes rule is a brilliant get out, as all we have to do is change ISP's to get another two warnings before we move again, and not simply have a letter drop on the doormat demanding money with menaces, as in your beloved America.

posted by (2010-06-23 00:32:20)
carlbandit avatarThis is an extract from Virgin Medias Acceptable use policy:
"3.2.1. Virgin Media does not place a limit on monthly network usage. However, in isolated cases (currently less than 0.1% of customers) where excessive network usage at busy times (9am to 9pm) is having a detrimental effect on other users, we may need to take appropriate action in accordance with the terms of this AUP to notify users of the impact they are having and require them to move some of their activity into the less busy period."

I personaly have been with Virgin for years now and have never faced any limit cuts even when i have been downloading up to and over 200gb's of data per month, not including the online videos and many hours i spend surfing the internet

Only thing i rarley face is my download speed slowing down at peak times which i put down to large ammounts of people online at the time...one thing i have npticed recently is at times like this (1am) when i do a speed test my speed is much higher than is should be. for example i have a 10mb line, i just did a speed test and got 22.5mb/s dl speed (tho my wireless card may be messed up)

posted by (2010-06-23 02:38:46)
pt4n avatarVirgin all the way. Been with them for 10 years, worked for 'em over a summer period once. 20meg, unlimited and unthrottled. Plus I get a discount for loyalty.

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