/ Technology

Unlimited broadband: BT says ‘goodbye’ to fair usage policies

The word 'limit' crossed out

When it comes to so-called ‘unlimited’ broadband deals, disappointment has often reigned. But now BT is offering unlimited broadband without a fair usage policy, can we look forward to other providers following suit?

As of today, BT has followed in the footsteps of Sky and removed its fair usage policy, which it used to apply to its ‘unlimited’ broadband services.

This usage policy allowed BT to restrict broadband access or slow it down for those download-happy customers who were making the most of the package they had paid for. For those among you who subscribe to BT Unlimited Broadband, Unlimited Broadband Extra, Unlimited BT Infinity 1, Unlimited BT Infinity 2 or BT Total Broadband Option 3 – ‘unlimited’ will finally mean unlimited.

Unfair fair-usage policies

And that’s how it should be. Unfortunately, the Advertising Standards Agency’s rules mean that internet service providers are allowed to label a package as ‘unlimited’, just so long as the fair usage policies are mentioned somewhere in the ads. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem fair to me.

That’s why the Committee of Advertising Practice launched a consultation on this issue last year. Several solutions were up for consideration as part of the process, including the option to make ‘unlimited’ claims unacceptable for certain broadband services. This included services that came with a fair usage policy, which lead to extra charges or a suspended service if customers exceeded a certain usage limit.

Has a revolution begun?

The question remains whether BT jumped the gun before it was forced, but I believe credit is still due. Having launched its YouView TV service late last year, BT will be acutely aware that the way we use the internet is changing. On-demand services like BBC iPlayer mean we’re no longer a slave to the TV schedule, and our demand for downloads will increase. In addition, music streaming platforms like Spotify require a constant connection if we’re to take advantage of their vast catalogues.

Of course, there’s always the risk that some customers could get carried away trawling the internet for cat videos or perusing films on Netflix, which could negatively affect your own broadband speed.

So now BT has broken ranks with Sky to offer totally unlimited broadband, surely it’s just a matter of time until other providers follow suit? With Sky and BT offering truly unlimited broadband, will you be tempted to switch providers? Or are you concerned your service might slow down due to other, high-usage customers?

Should 'unlimited' broadband deals be truly unlimited?

Yes - there should be no fair usage policies on unlimited broadband (91%, 1,328 Votes)

No - fair usage policies are reasonable to keep the service going (9%, 138 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,472

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Comments
Member

I’ll be happy if Virgin decide to do the same. With a 30Mbps connection I can reach my evening download limit of 3500 MB in about 20 minutes then get “traffic managed” for 5 hours. The connection is fast and reliable in my area and I rarely hit the limit but I find it downright deceitful of Virgin (and the others) to even pretend that a connection is “up to” ANY speed when they make it impossible to actually USE that speed.

Member

Forgot to mention that there is obviously another download limit (of 7GB) through the day which will trigger ANOTHER 5 hour clampdown.

As I said, the limits don’t affect me much but the deceit is hateful.

Member
Parp says:
7 February 2013

Well stop being a cheapskate and get the XXL which has no limitations no traffic management. You pay for what you get!

Member
giverous says:
7 February 2013

Unfortunately the comment below if wrong. Virgin Media actually DO apply a fair usage policy, even to the XXL customers. You just get a higher limit….

Member
Paul says:
7 February 2013

Parp you need to check your facts. Virgin Media have traffic management on all packages. One of the 100mb services and the 120mb have no form of download limits but they still slow down peer to peer.

Member
Paul says:
7 February 2013

Actually I’m wrong all Virgin Media services have download caps which result in speeds being reduced along with traffic management.

Member

Do away with the terms unlimited and fair usage and just provide a monthly limit with some roll-over, a far more sensible idea, more transparent and fairer .
Why should the majority subsidise the few who download 100’s of GB every month.

The same issue applies to Mobile Data where you can find in the small print that 500MB per month actually has quite small daily limits.

Member
Draik says:
7 February 2013

Nonsense. I pay £40 a month on my phone line + broadband specifically so that I can use that download speed as much as I like, as a gamer – and at that kind of cost, to impose restrictions is simply absurd. Providing unlimited service is not nearly as difficult as the telecom companies would love us to believe, and I’m glad to see BT set this shit straight.

Member
giverous says:
7 February 2013

That’s never going to work. For example, if I watch 2 films in an evening in highest quality on netfilx, that can be more than 2GB per hours for an HD film. So if both films are of average length, im already up to around 8GB of data. Now add in my girlfriend and our housemate. If we’re all watching programs, downloading games (Steam for example, will use about 70GB of download to install all of my commonly used games. Because of Virgins fair usage policies, I can only re-install steam after 11pm.

In terms of pricing, Virgin Media still make a huge % on the subscription charges compared to the cost of the bandwidth costs to themselves. It has been widely admitted that fair usage policies are there to fatten the profit margin and have nothing to do with network stability.

As for mobile networks, i’ve been with virgin and O2 and neither of them have a daily policy. If you buy 500MB you can use it as and when you see fit. If you want to blow the entire 500MB in a day, you can.