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Unlimited broadband
Unlimited Broadband:
Is Unlimited Really Unlimited?

If you're a heavy internet user, then unlimited broadband may appeal to you. After all, why have bandwidth limits when you don't need them? Most standard hi speed broadband packages include both a speed and a bandwidth allowance, and it's up to the user to find the most suitable one. If you take a cheap broadband package, with the speed at the lower end (such as 1Mbps), then you may find that you are limited in how much you can upload and download. This is in the terms and conditions of many broadband providers. However, if you have unlimited broadband, then these limits shouldn't apply to you, should they?

When unlimited is not unlimited

In practice, all broadband providers impose a limit on how much you can upload and download. That said, the average user will never use the limit and may never find out that it exists. However, it's different for the heavy internet user. If you spend a lot of time downloading music and video (legally of course) or watching live broadcasts on your computer, then you will need a heck of a lot of bandwidth. Do this often, and you might discover that there are limits on your unlimited broadband connection. That might put an end to the MMORPG (massively multi user online role playing game) that you were just about to win, for this month at least.

What's the limit?

Unlimited broadband providers have a monthly data transfer limit, and you'll find this in the fine print. Even if your broadband is supposed to be unlimited, there may be clauses in the fine print that tell you that there is an effective limit. Get out your magnifying glass; it's time to see what those clauses are and how they might affect you.

A little bit of research reveals the clauses used by three online unlimited broadband providers: BT, AOL and Virgin:

  • AOL states that accounts may be terminated without notice for excessive use.

  • BT promises to restrict hi speed broadband use at peak times.

  • Virgin may disconnect you if your bandwidth usage is deemed 'unreasonable'.

Fair use

Unlimited broadband companies say that what they operate is a fair use policy. Virgin hit the news recently because some people were having their unlimited broadband speed restricted for hours after only 20 minutes of use. Some of the restrictions that unlimited broadband providers impose on those who exceed their limit include:

  • A temporary reduction of the available download speed

  • Downgrading your service

  • Suspending your broadband service

Cutting the broadband speed means that most users get a better deal. However, most users would say that even if they are getting cheap broadband, unlimited should mean unlimited.

Getting a fair deal

So how can customers know what they will be getting from their unlimited broadband providers? One answer is to check for unlimited broadband providers who are up front about what the limits are. There are several from which to choose. It's also wise to look at whether the maximum download limit really suits the way you use the internet. If not, it could be time to shop around for a different unlimited broadband provider.

Compare broadband providers

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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