The unlimited broadband debacle is still rumbling on, despite Sky setting a precedent for other providers by launching the first completely unlimited service last year. New research from uSwitch.com shows that over 6.7 million broadband users could still be exceeding limits set on ‘unlimited’ packages. Despite calls for greater clarity and transparency, just three major broadband providers currently advertise the real limits on
•Over 8.1 million broadband customers (47%) do not know their download limit and could be at risk of exceeding their ‘fair usage policy’ – this is up from 7.5 million last year
•70% of major broadband providers are still prepared to disconnect people that exceed limits – even when these are advertised as ‘unlimited’
•Just 30% of major broadband providers are transparent and advertise the true limits of their packages
•6.7 million (39%) broadband users believe the are on a completely ‘unlimited’ package – with just one provider offering a this, many of these consumers could be in for a shock
Despite widespread criticism of the policy of imposing limits on ‘unlimited’ broadband packages, consumers are still being caught out. New research from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, reveals that almost half (47%) of broadband users don’t know the limit on their service. More worryingly, over a third (39%) believe that their broadband package is unlimited and could be opening themselves up to disconnection if they unknowingly exceed the provider’s limit.
It is over two years since uSwitch.com started campaigning against broadband download limit transparency. During this time, Sky set a precedent for other broadband providers by launching the first completely unlimited service. Other providers have failed to follow suit and offer their customers ‘true’ unlimited downloads. The majority of broadband providers are still using the term unlimited and still baffling broadband users by setting limits on their packages. Just three of the major providers, Sky, TalkTalk and AOL, actually publicise official limits.
The unadvertised limits attached to broadband packages can be restricted by providers through ‘limiting’, which is simply limiting the level of downloads and ‘traffic shaping’. Traffic shaping restricts the speed at which you can download certain types of media and restricts the activity that can be performed. This only demonstrates further confusion to the millions of broadband customers in the UK.
The research also shows absolutely no change in the percentage of consumers who are misled, misinformed or just mystified. However, with greater take up of broadband, these percentages are translating into increasing numbers of consumers. 8.1 million broadband customers (47%) do not know their download limit – up from 7.5 million last year – and 6.8 million broadband users (39%) could be exceeding limits set on ‘unlimited’ packages – up from 6.2 million last year.
The Digital Britain report revealed that 2Mb/s broadband should be accessible to all by 2012 and it is predicted that the amount of broadband users are expected to soar. With video applications and services such as the BBC’s iPlayer, ITV and 4OD catch-up becoming more popular with consumers the unlimited issue is only set to continue. Nearly one in four (23%) people with internet access claim that someone in the household watches TV Online, up from 17% in 2008. A total 65% of UK households have a broadband package, an increase of 7% year from 2008. With the increase in the number of people using online services and the demand for downloads increasing there is a real need for greater transparency regarding download limits.
Unfortunately, broadband users are still completely unaware as to how much their activity adds up to in terms of their overall usage. Even activities such as uploading files can contribute to their ‘acceptable usage’ and could cause users to breach the threshold set by their supplier. This means that broadband customers are in danger of having their services limited, suspended or even terminated by their provider.
The issue is compounded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). It currently allows providers to describe services as ‘unlimited’ even if there is a fair usage cap, as long as it is detailed in the small print. If consumers are not vigilant enough they could get a nasty surprise if they inadvertently break the rules and max out their so-called ‘unlimited’ service.
Via EPR Network
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