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Summary:

A UK consumer group has found that nearly 1 million British broadband users have come close to exceeding or have exceeded their broadband caps according to the BBC. The group, uSwitch, also found that five of the nine Internet service providers that advertised “unlimited” access actually had caps.

A UK consumer group has found that 1 million British broadband users have come close to exceeding, or have exceeded, their ISP’s broadband caps, according to the BBC. The group, uSwitch, also found that five of the nine Internet service providers that advertised “unlimited” access actually had caps, and were prepared to disconnect users who violated them. Only two out of the nine providers actually disclosed their caps (which were 30 GB and 40 GB per month), leaving 80 percent of Internet users unaware of limitations on their data downloads.

Here in the U.S., broadband caps are becoming more prevalent with Comcast disclosing a 250 GB per month cap, all the way down to Frontier Communications mandating a minuscule 5 GB per month cap. There are also 5 GB per month limits on just about all “unlimited” wireless broadband plans. We’re pretty vehemently against broadband caps, which we see as a threat to innovation. But they’re even more damaging when people don’t know what those caps are. Concealing such language in the terms of service or fine print, while advertising access as unlimited should violate truth-in-advertising laws. It also makes consumers angry when they discover, through practice or through reading sites such as this one, that they’ve bought into a lie.

  1. i see two big issues here:

    1. it should not be allowed to advertise ‘unlimited’ and than have a cap.

    2. these are also enforced on a discretionary basis. this can result in being very unfair to consumers. i believe not only should the cap be advertised but also enforced on a consistent basis(i make it clear that i prefer no cap at all). we should know what it is that we are buying. services should stop operated when the cap is hit(unless we elect to pay overages) for all users. as it is certain users are selected to have there accounts canceled while other may be allowed to continue exceeding their caps.

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  2. Stacey Higginbotham Thursday, October 23, 2008

    spg, good point on the potential to abuse the enforcement of discretionary caps.

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  3. Absolutely right — the ISPs should be forced to publicize any limitations on their broadband offerings. That includes caps and any throttling issues. This should be regulated, with penalties and supervision. Tell me who to call, who to email, where to sign on that one.

    And I should be able to see how much bandwidth I’m using. I called Cablevision for a heads up on that, unavailable.

    I don’t mind paying for extra bandwidth. But these hidden stratagems and vigilante actions are killers.

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  4. Talk about false advertising, how do they get away with this?

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  5. Too many internet users are either passive or do not see the real threats of broadband caps.

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  6. I still don’t understand how these companies can advertise “unlimited” yet maintain a cap that isn’t expressed until you’ve gone over it.

    Isn’t this the exact same concept of a store like best buy performing a “bait and switch” which is a form of fraud?

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  7. “Fair-Use” Resource Agreement. This is generally what they use to cap the unlimited services they offers. Just like the shared webhosting, there are ISPs that relies on shared accounts services. This is what they don’t state. Meaning, if there’s more users using the service, they’ll cap the bandwith according to numbers of users using it, to spread the bandwith evenly.

    Well I can’t say it’s worldwide or all ISP are doing this, at least this is what happen in my country :p
    even when my isp stated that they have managed to provide ‘up to’ 100Mbps service, all I can get on almost every hour is up to 70 KBps only :p and there’s nothing I can do about it, the reply I get only “there’s a problem on the network” or “the stated service is as it is, and it’s not 100MBps, but ‘up to’ 100MBps”, or “it’s peak hour, so it’s usual thing”, etc.

    just sharing ;)

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