Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fair Usage Broadband ?Is It Really Fair?

Have you signed up for an unlimited?package only to read the small print and find out that your broadband can be capped? Most companies who sell an unlimited?service also have what is called a fair usage policy? which can end up imposing limits on your downloading.

If you are one of the millions of people who download music, movies and high resolution photos, then this could affect to you. While you might not be downloading anything like 20GB a month now, the imminent rise in legal film downloads, is just one way in which this is set to change.

What to look out for

Put simply, fair usage is the broadband industrys attempt at keeping cyber traffic down. The policy was designed to protect the people who might be affected by your downloading.

If you have an ADSL line, then you share probably your connection with the rest of your street. Because ADSL uses the old BT copper wires network, there is a limit to the capacity that they can carry.

The problem is that if youre a big downloader, you could be slowing down the broadband connection of up to 50 other people. And if you are regularly affecting other peoples internet, your ISP might decide that something needs to be done.

On the other hand, contention ratios for the 2.2 million cable customers (Ofcom, 2006) will be much lower, so they will be sharing with fewer people.

Its when you use it, not how

Your ISP is only trying to ensure that everyone has a good user experience. Those most likely to be affected by the fair usage policy are:

  • Users of peer to peer networks uploading and downloading lots of 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 try downloading in the small hours when less people will be online in your street. That way you can still download as much as you want, without causing problems for anyone else.

Typical penalties

Most ISPs will ignore over-sized downloading for a month or two, and will then get in touch asking that you curb your usage. If, however, you continue to exceed the limits they are likely to take action.

This could take the form of reducing the speed of your connection, therefore limiting the amount that can be downloaded, restricting your usage at peak times, charging you for your excess usage, or restricting your use of peer to peer sites.

In extreme cases, they might terminate your contract, cutting off your internet until you can get a new connection.

If, having signed up for an unlimited?package, and anything like this does happen you dont have to just accept their decision. There is something you can do.

Dispute and resolution

Get in touch with Otelo, the telecommunication industrys watchdog, whose job it is to investigate complaints by customers. 33 per cent of ISPs are members of the body, so it is always advisable to use a company that is signed up, in case you do run into any problems. Click here to check if your provider is a member.

Otelo also charges members for being investigated so it will help your case to get them involved.
If your ISP isnt a member of Otelo, try Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK, who will still be able to help.

I have to face facts; Im a download-a-holic?/b>

If you know that you make big downloads, then it might simply be time to admit that you need to cut down.

But what counts as a big download? The average 12 track album is about 0.48GB, while a downloaded movie can be anything up to 1GB. Apples new movie downloads service, although only currently available in a US format, are 2.5GB in size.

You need to be realistic ?if you are doing a lot of downloading, you need a beefy package. It saves on the aggravation and cost of calls to your ISPs customer service centre.

So what is the right package?

Why go through the hassle of a fair usage deal and risk incurring the wrath of your ISP when you exceed your limit? Try a high end package where unlimited really means unlimited.

Some of the best providers for heavy downloaders at the moment are Telewest and ntl. Since they are not reliant on the old copper network and have fewer people sharing lines, you are less likely to run into fair usage problems. You could also try Be There Broadband ?a high-end download network for broadband users.

Fair usage deals

Theres nothing wrong with these deals, but you need to be careful and keep an eye on your downloading.

Use a download compressor

If you cant bear to cut down on your downloading, but dont want to spend more on upgrading your package, you could try using a download compressor like OnSpeed, which increases connection speed by compressing files. The software costs 24.99 for a 12 month subscription (though you still need to pay your ISP for your connection).

However, it cannot compress file downloads or uploads such as QuickTime files, MP3, AVI, MPEG, exes or streaming media content, so it is most useful for people who have already had restrictions put on their connection as it can increase broadband speeds by up to five times.

Read our guide to choosing a cheap broadband package in the UK. Compare packages and sort by price / check notes on any restrictions are also listed.

Be entertained watching this video - simply stunning!

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

T-Mobile UK ?Is This The End Of The Line?

T-Mobile Merger With 3 On the Cards?T-Mobile’s UK division could be sold by owner Deutsche Telecom because of mounting competition in the mobile industry. Shareholders including the German government and US private equity group, Blackstone, have been lobbying for the restructuring of the main business amidst profit warnings and falling UK revenues (down 21% year

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