What exactly does “unlimited broadband” mean?

Posted in Pet Hates at 3:16 pm by blog

Have you ever seen an advertisement for “Unlimited Broadband” or “Unlimited Phone Service” or similar, where the small print said something like “Fair Use Conditions Apply”?
Quite often, this “Fair Use” policy will actually specify a transfer limit, yes, a LIMIT on an UNLIMITED service, does this not contradict itself? Worse still, are the ones which mention a limit, but dont specify what it is.

Now, the very nature of the Internet and the technologies used to provide broadband will enforce “Fair Use” according to the actual dictionary definition of fair. The available bandwidth will be shared equally among the users who are trying to use it. If there are 50 users, but only one of them is actually trying to use the available bandwidth, then naturally he will be able to transfer more. If 2 users try to use it, they will get half the speed of one etc.

They already caveat the available bandwidth by saying “Up to”, so why not do away with the transfer limits and merely have the service slow down when heavily being used?
Having a bandwidth cap is bad enough, your allocated bandwidth will get eaten up by unsolicited traffic – spam mails, malware trying to infect you (even if it fails, it still consumes some of your bandwidth trying).

At the very least, providers should be forced to _NOT_ advertise services as being unlimited unless they truly are. And if they are limited, then they should be advertised as such, with the limits clearly explained up front.

I would rather have a 512Kb service with no arbitrary limits enforced (technological limitation of 512Kb is 90Gb download per month), than an 8Mb service with some arbitrary limit (theoretically up to 1440Gb per month download). If i have an 8Mb service with a 90Gb limit (effectively limiting me to a 512Kb average anyway) all it takes is for one errant program, an open wireless access point, or one malicious user deciding to conduct a denial of service attack against me, and i’m quickly massively over the limit.
Going over the limit could result in me losing the connection completely, being charged extra (sometimes even unspecified amounts) by the ISP, or possibly being blacklisted so i can’t move to another ISP. And all of this could happen due to no fault of my own, and due to misleading advertising.

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