Fair Use policy

Many of the “unlimited” plans available from mobile carriers have a fair usage policy. Although unlimited, these policies can end up imposing limits on downloading or throttling speeds. Put simply, fair usage is the broadband industry’s attempt at keeping cyber traffic down. The policies are designed to protect the people who might be affected by the heavy downloading of others.

Typically a user shares a mobile broadband connection with around 49 other people. A problem with download speed occurs if one user is a big downloader, as they could slowing down the broadband connection for the other users. hile it may seem unfair if yours is the broadband connection being throttled, your provider is only trying to ensure that everyone has a good user experience.

Those most likely to be affected by a fair usage policy are:

  • Users of peer-to-peer networks uploading and downloading lots of documents, pictures, films and music
  • Online gamers
  • People working from home and remotely connecting to the office

If any of these apply to you, try cutting down your internet usage, or if possible try doing your downloading during odd hours when less people will be online and some broadband providers relax their policies.

Typical penalties

Most carriers with fair usage policies will ignore intermittent over-sized downloading, but will contact a heavy user asking that they curb usage. If, however, they continue to exceed the limits the carrier is likely to take action. This could take the form of throttling the connection, therefore limiting the amount that can be downloaded, restricting usage at peak times, charging for excess usage, or restricting access to peer-to-peer sites. In extreme cases, the contract might even be terminated, cutting off service.

If you have signed up for an “unlimited mobile broadband” package and service has been throttled or suspended, but you don’t think you’ve been excessively downloading, there is something you can do.

Dispute and resolution

If you feel that you’ve been wrongly penalized for your downloading you should first try to resolve the issue directly with your carrier.

To ensure you do not run into penalties from the fair use policy of your carrier, be sure to  be familiar with the fair use policy of your carrier by reviewing it on their website.

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