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Times Online Publicises Broadband Scrimpers

September 2, 2006

The Times Online has an interesting article about the shortcomings of broadband in Britain due to the penny pinching of suppliers.

When broadband was first introduced it was a huge leap from dial-ip. Advertisements and emails to customers made a huge point of the unlimited downloads, faster speeds and unmetered access for a monthly fee. I jumped on the ADSL bandwagon as soon as BT launched their service. For around three years the service was as sold, unlimited and unmetered. The only problem during these years was the lack of content, there was nothing to use the broadband on unless one was playing online games, transferring large files, streaming video from the few online TV channels or listening to Web-radio.

Around 2003-2004, several service providers began to introduce caps onto their services, after realising that offering faster connections meant faster bandwidth utilisation. It was as these caps were coming into force that the availability of web services and bandwidth-hungry services became all the more popular. Online photo printing services, photo-hosting services, podcasts, videocasts, high definition film trailers, the ongoing iTunes Music Store and Xbox Live Marketplace are just a few of the services that can suck up your bandwidth usage should you be on a capped package.

Now that broadband has more users than in the days of totally unlimited usage, the ISPs seem to be clamping down on the founding principle of broadband. Many service providers will veil their package with the word ‘unlimited’. Unlimited what, bandwidth? Yes! Many service packages are being sold with what is advertised as being “Unlimited Bandwidth” or “Unlimited Usage”. Both of these are blatant lies, well, blatant if one cares to read the small print where some ISPs either specify a 40gb cap for example or state that an “Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP)” applies. This is far from being unlimted since most if not all AUPs do not state what the ISPs opinion of acceptable is.

Along with the bandwidth issue, there are also complaints about the DSLmax service which allows users a potential 8Mbps. When selling you something, it isn’t in the ISPs best interests to say “You’re more likely to get between 0.5Mbps and 5Mbps unless you live near the exchange,” also it won’t fit on the page either so it gets added as a footnote. As technology matures, the businesses (yep, unfortunately that’s what they are) round up the early adopters, show everyone how good a service is and then once everyone is onboard the cruise ship, tie down the ropes and get you to row.

I can’t wait to see what BT do with regards to the bandwidth cap when they introduce their IPTV service. Will they shoot themselves in the foot and include the IPTV bandwidth usage in the customer’s monthly allowance or allow official BT services unlimted usage?

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