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UK Watchdog Tired of ISPs' Loose Definition of 'Unlimited'
Maybe Someday Carriers Will Stop Abusing The Word
by Karl Bode 08:20AM Monday Jul 29 2013
As we've long-noted here in the States, companies have a very hard time when it comes to understanding the definition of "unlimited." In 2007 NY's Attorney General sued Verizon Wireless for advertising a capped service as unlimited, and more than a few class actions have been filed in the United States for the practice. However, the occasional lawsuit or regulatory wrist slap hasn't done much to stop the practice of marketing limited services as unlimited (Cricket being only the latest).

Things in the UK haven't been much better, but their regulators have at least been a little more vocal about carriers using unlimited false advertising, where as you'd be hard pressed to hear a peep out of the FCC or FTC. UK ISP BE (now owned by BSkyB) is getting its wrist slapped extra hard by the Advertising Standards Authority for advertising their DSL services as unlimited, only for users to find their connections throttled:
quote:
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld gripes from three complainants who challenged the ISP's claims that it offered "unlimited usage" to customers - despite having a traffic-management policy in place that punished heavy internet downloaders. BE advertised three ADSL broadband packages - value, unlimited and pro - on its website and stated for each deal that "unlimited usage" applied. But Brits only learned that the ISP threatened to suspend broadband connectivity for some heavy users of its network after clicking through a number of links on the company's website.
It's not clear how many decades we have to read the same stories before regulators force lying companies to adhere to the actual definition of quite a simple word -- or more easily, just stop using it entirely.

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Premium
join:2009-04-29
Parkville, MD

Unlimited should mean just that

ISPs need to stop lying. If you say "unlimited" there should be no throttling, no overage fees; it should be all you can eat.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Unlimited should mean just that

said by microphone:

ISPs need to stop lying. If you say "unlimited" there should be no throttling, no overage fees; it should be all you can eat.

Never happen, as long as their are lawyers on the planet and fine print in contracts.
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."
The Antihero

join:2002-04-09
Enola, PA
said by microphone:

it should be all you can eat.

It is "all you can eat." And by that, I mean "all you're allowed to eat."
old_wiz_60

join:2005-06-03
Bedford, MA

the carriers..

know full well the FCC is on their side, thanks to having one of their lobbyists now in charge at the FCC.

The silly wrist slaps are a waste of time - Verizon can afford it, just as they can afford the bribes they pay to the FCC.

brookeKrige

join:2012-11-05
San Jose, CA
kudos:3

there's always a But...

Marketing by emphasizing Free, No Caps, Unlimited... always has a "But", purchase required, no servers, throttling/overages (plus long terms of service).

Must teach children, when reading marketing to develop a reflex of correcting it in your head to add the missing But.

UK has an opportunity to lead the world in requiring that the missing But become explicit and with exactly the same emphasis (same font, style, size for text/images media).

Free, But
No Caps, But
Unlimited, But

because asterisk and footnotes or other finer print does not cut it. Standardize the But!
kevinds
Premium
join:2003-05-01
Calgary, AB
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Shaw

Re: there's always a But...

Or where there is the asterisk, but after searching for the asterisk'd terms, can't find them.

I've expanded all the sometimes hidden paragraphs on a page, used my browser's Find on page feature, and only found one instance of * on the page.
--
Yes, I am not employed and looking for IT work. Have passport, will travel.
davidhoffman
Premium
join:2009-11-19
Warner Robins, GA
kudos:3
+1 Great idea.

mmay149q
Premium
join:2009-03-05
Dallas, TX
kudos:48

Re: the carriers..

said by old_wiz_60:

know full well the FCC is on their side, thanks to having one of their lobbyists now in charge at the FCC.

The silly wrist slaps are a waste of time - Verizon can afford it, just as they can afford the bribes they pay to the FCC.

Yeah, if the FCC/FTC/ETC were really serious about the "wrist slaps" they would be dropping over $1million or more fines instead of these little $10k and etc fines, bet some action like that would definitely get most of these companies to clean up their act and be a little more honest towards their stuff, hell you may even see the price of fee's included in advertising!

-Matt
--
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Unlimited is not unreasonable

Sprint and Virgin said it best.

The "unlimited" pitch is meant to assure the average consumer that they won't face overage charges ("steep", or otherwise), and won't be cut off, not allow gluttons to max out their pipes 24x7, just to prove that they can.
Expand your moderator at work

Xioden
Premium
join:2008-06-10
Monticello, NY
kudos:1

Re: Unlimited is not unreasonable

In which case they should be marketing to overage charges or cut offs, not marketing it as unlimited. ISPs (and cell companies, and cable companies, etc.) just want to have their cake and eat it too.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1
said by elray:

Sprint and Virgin said it best.

The "unlimited" pitch is meant to assure the average consumer that they won't face overage charges ("steep", or otherwise), and won't be cut off, not allow gluttons to max out their pipes 24x7, just to prove that they can.

This is DSL, not wireless. What the heck are you talking about? And more so, if a person downloads 1 TB of data at 2 am it has no effect on the ISPs network as the bandwidth is just sitting there unused.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness
said by elray:

Sprint and Virgin said it best.

The "unlimited" pitch is meant to assure the average consumer that they won't face overage charges ("steep", or otherwise), and won't be cut off, not allow gluttons to max out their pipes 24x7, just to prove that they can.

Then don't advertise it as "unlimited" if it isn't. If it has limits it can not be unlimited. Also you are capped when you are roaming which also qualifies as NOT unlimited. if Sprint wants to cap at 10 GB or whatever they should say that. Call it a 10 GB plan with no overages. Yes I understand saying unlimited is easier than actually expecting the consumer to educate themselves on what GB is and how many GB their activities uses. but actually it's a GOOD thing for the consumer to educate themselves. If they are too lazy to do that perhaps they deserve to have caps.
davidhoffman
Premium
join:2009-11-19
Warner Robins, GA
kudos:3

1 edit
But who defines "average usage"? An average of 150GB may seem good enough at one date to many subscribers, but not good enough 6 years later to those same subscribers. The ISP thinks they are still good because he is getting overage fees. Based on how usage of the internet has changed over the years, my AT&T DSL service usage limit should have gone from 150GB/month to 450GB/month. It has not. I think a more reasonable solution might be to multiply the download and upload connection speeds by 2,635,200 seconds(1 average month) and divide each result by 4. The end product would be your caps for the month. I would end up with 506GB download and 84GB upload using my 768Kbps downstream/128Kbps upstream.

simlesa
Premium
join:2006-04-14
Astoria, NY

Re: Unlimited is not unreasonable

Lets disregard for a second that there was no conversion from bits to bytes, are you saying my 30 Mbps cable connection should set my download cap close to 20 TB?
davidhoffman
Premium
join:2009-11-19
Warner Robins, GA
kudos:3

Re: Unlimited is not unreasonable

It would be about 2.4705 TByte per month by my calculation, which equals 19.764 Tbit per month. 63.2448 GByte per month down should have been mine. I need to be more careful with annotation. Thanks for pointing that out.

I do not think that I should have 100% exclusive use of my residential internet connection. I understand the concept of overselling to keep the cost reasonable for most potential users. Few computers or modems I know of can truly continuously use an internet connection 100%. It is a burst type of use. So you are going to have at least 50% of the connection time unused on either the upload or download. On the other hand I can see the potential future uses of internet connections and can see the always internet connected home as using a lot of the connection. I give it about 20% to 25% of the theoretical capability of the connection's stated capacity.

Now for a business with an SLA and other considerations, I would hope to be able to use 100% of the stated capability 24/7/365, if I am paying the rate to do that. In reality, I would probably see about 99.75%. You would have a total loss of about 1 day(24 hours) per year.