When Unlimited does not mean unlimited

When your a UK ISP like Demon advertising to the public. The advert above for 8meg business enabled broadband at 24.99 pounds a month is exactly what I have had for the last 3 plus years. When Broadband first came out, Demon offered only one option of 512k broadband at 24.99, then has upgrades came along they split the line up into a cheaper 19.99 a month one which had no access to things like Newsgroups or static IPs. Fine I thought, Home Office is good for me, I don't mind pay extra for some of the above. However, when 8meg Broadband came along Demon changed the AUP. There was no mention of a limit on Broadband download use or anything till they changed it. Now it reads.

The THUS FUP* applies to Demon Home 8000 and Demon Home Office 8000 Broadband and variants of these products Customers only.

It is in place to ensure that THUS can continue to provide an acceptable standard of service in terms of download speeds, to the vast majority of our customers.

THUS will continually measure the performance of our broadband network and take steps to restrict the download speeds of very heavy users during peak periods, should their activities significantly contribute towards the risk of reduced speeds being experienced by the majority of our broadband customers. The peak period is 9am to 10pm .

All users will be monitored on a continuous basis. Only customers that consistently download exceptionally large amounts of data over a rolling 30 day period will be affected by the THUS FUP. THUS expects that less than 1% of its Demon Home 8000 and Demon Home Office 8000 customers will be affected by the THUS FUP. Any Customers who are affected will be notified if their speed is being restricted.

Speed restrictions will only apply during peak periods. Should a Customer's usage return to acceptable levels, adjudged on a rolling 30 day period, speed restrictions will be removed.

Now bearing in mind I've been with Demon for 13 years in some kind of form, you can understand why I'm pretty pissed off. Also you don't get a warning letter, they just do it and send out a letter. The letter which I don't have right now but keep meaning to type out (although we did read it out on geek and geekhag podcast number 6). In the letter they say the limits which are not specified in the above AUP are 50gig for home users and 60gig for home office users. I went over by 4.85gig at 64.85gig last month. So the upshot of all of this is that me and Sarah have been restricted to 128k broadband between 9am – 10pm every night. This wasn't so bad at the start because it only applied to weekdays. But then it changed to weekends too. I asked Demon many times to prove what they were saying by giving me a breakdown of the traffic but they never did (I'm going to leave out the many nasty stories of talking to Demon Customer Services – I hope to record them one day soon, when i get back from the states) So in the end I got the number for Demon Customer Care Support (yes there different and UK based) from the ADSL guide forums (you need to be logged on) which is 08000279190 for anyone who actually wants to cancel there account with Demon and get the MAC code so they can move somewhere.

But this is the problem, almost every ISP now has a AUP but their not being upfront about the actual limits and they still advertising as unlimited. Two ISPs which I was considering are pretty upfront about everything is Zen Internet and UK Freesoftware network.

So anyway, I'm obviously not the only person to have this trouble. Glyn pointed me to a register post about the same issue and a nice link to an e-petition about ISPs using the word unlimited in all advertising.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Insist that OFCOM and the ASA stop Broadband Providers  advertising 'unlimited' services that are in fact limited in the small print or by un-defined fair use policies

So far 2,427 people have signed up including myself. The petition is open till June 10th, so I would get signing soon. As for now, when I get back from the states, I'll be switching to UK Free software network which don't packetshape or restrict beyond whats been described up front on the site. Now if only others would do the same.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.