Days are numbered for 'unlimited' broadband

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Days are numbered for 'unlimited' broadband

Simon Quicke

Even before the Advertising Standards Authority review of claims of 'unlimited broadband' has reached its conclusions several players in the industry have called for an end to the misleading description of broadband services.

A review was kicked off by the ASA last month after complaints about unlimited broadband having catches in the small print and already some of the industry has made its views known.

Writing on a blog post Sebastien Lahtinen, Co-founder of thinkbroadband.com, shared his belief that the days of unlimited broadband are over.

"Whilst consumers are attracted to the term 'unlimited broadband', they must realise that a flat rate does not encourage them to ration their use and eventually the broadband pipes will get to bursting point, requiring the ISP to upgrade them. The ISP of course will only do this if they can justify additional investment, usually by charging more for their broadband service," he wrote.

He went on to list the factors that will restrict broadband including bandwidth, cost, congestion, imposed caps and traffic management to slow down heavy users.

"If it is not cost, a hard cap or traffic shaping, then congestion will act as the natural control. Whilst the costs of upgrading the national infrastructure to meet the demands of broadband users is so high, we will not see truly unlimited broadband services available for any significant length of time," he added.

Sharing that view Entanet added its voice to calls for an end to misleading expectations that broadband adverts could have for users.

"We don't believe that truly 'unlimited' packages will be sustainable in the UK broadband market in the medium term and it's time for consumers to be made fully aware of that fact. If they're not, they risk being seduced by 'unlimited' advertising only to be stung at a later date by FUPs and hidden traffic shaping policies," the company stated.

The ASA announced its review last month because it was concerned that customers were being duped into believing they were getting unlimited broadband when they were in rwality getting something quite different.

"We've looked at a number of complaints about individual ads in the telecoms sector regarding access speeds and usage limits and found that applying a single policy to how telecoms providers advertise can pose significant challenges," said Lynsay Taffe, communications and policy manager at the ASA. 

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