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BE’s 150GB fair-usage limit on ‘unlimited’ broadband is ruled unfair

Soon-to-be-axed broadband provider BE has been ticked off for imposing a 150GB ‘fair usage’ on heavy downloader using its unlimited broadband tariff.

BE’s fair use policy was investigated after three customers complained to the Advertising Standards Agency that it prevented the ‘unlimited usage’ they were promised.

The ASA agreed, but it’s a symbolic ruling: later this year BE will be absorbed into Sky Broadband, a fully unlimited service with no fair usage restrictions.

BE’s 150GB fair-usage limit on ‘unlimited’ broadband is ruled unfair
Ad watchdogs say the only fair usage policy is no policy on unlimited broadband services

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to ISP Traffic ManagementBE said its fair usage policy allowed unlimited downloading because it had affected only 0.3 per cent of its 68,000 users in the past 12 months.

They were contacted after they were identified as very high users downloading more than 150GB of data per month on exchanges where BE had identified congestion problems.

BE said 224 users had been emailed or phoned to request they decrease their usage, with a follow-up email if the customer’s peak-time use did not change, warning their service could be suspended.

Just two customers went on to breach the fair-usage policy, and both left BE for an alternative provider. BE’s fair usage policy does not list a specific download limit.

The ASA said: “Although it affected only a small proportion of customers, the service was restricted for those using more than 150 GB in a month on some exchanges and was therefore not unlimited. As a result, we concluded that the claim “unlimited” was misleading.”

Sky bought BE Broadband and O2 Broadband from parent company Telefonica earlier this year, and both brands will be rolled under the Sky Broadband umbrella this summer.

Broadband limits and fair usage policies are gradually disappearing anyway: BT has removed limits for all but its lowest-end tariffs, and TalkTalk has abolished all downloading limits and fair usage policies.

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