Broadband fair use policies

reduce speed

LIFE'S not fair and neither, it turns out, are many broadband providers.

As more of us move onto unlimited broadband deals, it's likely that more of us are subject to a fair use policy (FUP), a clause that means our ISPs can limit our connections - a lot, if we use a lot of data.

Many FUPs are pretty fair. The ISPs rarely restrict users, using the policy to protect themselves from network emergencies. But some aren't.

Read on to find out more about these policies in general, and where each provider falls on the fairness scale.

Why do ISPs have FUPs?

The basic principle behind all fair use polices is that when one user starts downloading massive amounts of data it slows down the other people sharing the network.

The fair use policy is effectively a get out clause in unlimited broadband contracts: we can use as much data as we like, as long as we're not bandwidth hogs.

There are two problems, however.

First, there's no clear definition of a bandwidth hog (and this model is controversial anyway). Every provider has their own take, and many seem to make it up as they go along.

Second, throttling is traffic management's bluntest instrument. When providers do it badly, users find their connections severely slowed or, in extreme cases, cut off completely, even before they overstep the (often blurry) mark.

In short, although fair use doesn't affect the vast majority of broadband users, we think it's worth downloaders (and uploaders) knowing which providers are the fairest of them all, before they sign up.

Who's fair? The full list

We've arranged the UK's biggest providers offering unlimited deals alphabetically below, along with a short explanation of their policy and whether we think it's a fair one.

Note that these are assessments for unlimited broadband deals only. Where providers offer both data capped and unlimited deals, we're only talking about the latter.

We've also noted any traffic management restrictions that may apply during peak hours, as these are often listed separately by the providers who use them.

For more on other aspects of unlimited broadband see our full guide here.

BT

We say: very fair

Fair Use: As of February 2013, BT unlimited deals have been totally unlimited. There is no fair use policy.

In the past, BT imposed 100GB and 300GB fair use limits on their unlimited broadband users so this is a big improvement.

BT also specify that BT TV receives additional bandwidth - partly so on demand products can be delivered without interruption, and partly so the service doesn't get in the way of normal browsing. This applies even when users are watching on another device through BT Everywhere.

A much more recent improvement has come in the form of access to BT Wi-fi - previously known as BT Openzone. It used to have a (fairly generous) usage limit of 10,000 minutes per month, after which users would be disconnected every half hour for the rest of that month.

But this has gone, meaning that BT's unlimited Broadband customers get truly unlimited access wherever they are.

Traffic Management: BT also no longer manage traffic on any of their broadband packages - unlimited or not.

Previously, BT only managed peer-to-peer software during peak hours - 4pm to midnight during the week, and 9am to midnight at the weekend - so it's not a huge change.

But it is an interesting ongoing experiment. After all, research into traffic management carried out in 2011 found that 74% of BT traffic was being slowed in some way.

Truly unlimited broadband is often reserved for ISPs with smaller customer bases, who are more able to provide quality over quantity. For example, Sky famously suffered network problems in the past as the result of high demand for their truly unlimited service.

For now though the terms are certainly fair.

We say: fair

Fair Use: EE broadband, once known as Orange broadband, has been "completely" unlimited since the beginning of 2012 - but traffic management still applies.

Previously, some out-of-area customers - most likely to be those on what was once known as a Market 1 or 2 exchange, now known as Market A exchanges - had their usage capped at a mere 20GB, with a one-off charge of £10 every month the limit was exceeded. But now unlimited is the default for everyone, and the 20GB cap only applies to the odd customer on a legacy package.

Traffic Management: EE manage traffic using an incredibly broad definition of peak time: from 4.30pm to 1am during the week and 1.30pm to 1am at the weekends.

During these "peak" periods or, you know, basically most of the time, EE slow peer-to-peer and newsgroup traffic, and prioritise VoIP, gaming and "certain network services" over other activities.

Those with the 20GB data limit will also find their audio and video streaming, and music and video downloads, slowed during peak hours.

We say: fair

Fair Use: Fuel have just one, unlimited, broadband deal.

Back when they were Primus, they had a rule that those downloading "well in excess of" 100GB a month would be subject to a "three strikes and you're out" policy.

They removed that limit before they rebranded, and a look on the Fuel customer forum suggests they seem to have no problem with users racking up that kind of data usage thought services such as Netflix.

But buried in their terms and conditions is this:

7.3.6 You undertake not to use the Services: in any way that would in Fuel Broadband's reasonable opinion materially affect the use of or access to the internet of any other person (including substantial data transfers during peak times)

The emphasis is ours. It's vague at best, and there's no word on the site about what Fuel consider to be peak time, or "substantial data".

In their favour, they don't have traffic management.

We say: fair

Fair Use: Plusnet offer "truly unlimited" broadband and, true to their word, there is no rate limiting (slowing down) and no fair use policy in place.

Traffic Management: They are, however, well known for the very detailed way they manage traffic, or traffic prioritisation as they like to call it.

Plusnet prioritise VoIP and gaming traffic on Unlimited.

Next on the priority list are Browsing and Email, Streaming, VPN, FTP and download servers.

Peer-to-peer and Usenet traffic are given the lowest priority.

Plusnet say this means time sensitive internet use gets the most bandwidth and everything runs smoothly, but it might not suit all users.

We say: fair

Fair Use: The Post Office's FUP was once an echo of the bad old days: for "unlimited" it was pretty limiting.

Users who exceeded 100GB a month could find their speeds restricted for the rest of the month, although there was no word on how much by.

However, since, August 2014, that limit has been removed.

Traffic Management: Post Office traffic management policy is somewhat vague.

Peer-to-peer file sharing services may be restricted at peak times (4pm to midnight every day) - but there's no mention of what speeds such services might be reduced to.

Also note: Email accounts with Post Office will stop working if they reach 10GB, and they'll be deleted if they are inactive for six months or more.

Sky

We say: very fair

Fair Use: Here's an easy one: Sky broadband unlimited doesn't have a fair use policy and doesn't manage traffic.

Since they bought this policy in, we've haven't seen a single substantiated complaint about it.

However, as we mentioned in the BT section above, Sky have fallen prey to network problems caused by a surge in demand, probably due to the promotion of their lenient policy, in the past.

Sky say they have worked to increase capacity at exchanges in high demand areas - Doncaster, North Wales and Bristol, for example - and we haven't heard any complaints since.

Traffic Management: Only Sky's out of area Connect broadband package has a traffic management policy.

Basically, it prioritises email, browsing, gaming, streaming, and VoIP traffic and may restrict P2P, newsgroups and large downloads at busy times: between 5pm and midnight weekdays, and all day at the weekend.

Sky also say that very heavy users who regularly download large amounts may have their speeds slowed down at peak times. They say this should be fewer than 5% of customers.

As mentioned though, this traffic management policy doesn't apply to Sky Unlimited or Sky Lite customers.

Ex-Be and O2 customers moved over to Sky may have mourned the loss of some of the UK's most relaxed FUP and traffic management policies, but O2 did manage their network to slow streaming and P2P traffic during peak times (4pm to midnight during the week and 12pm to midnight at weekends).

We say: fair (but sneaky)

Fair Use: TalkTalk direct users asking about their fair usage policy to their broadband traffic management page, which suggests that like BT and Sky, their unlimited service is truly unlimited.

However, after trawling through their terms and conditions we found the following:

You acknowledge that the Services are provided to other users and we owe a duty to them as a whole to preserve our Network integrity and to avoid Network degradation. If, in our reasonable opinion, we consider it necessary to maintain our Network integrity or prevent Network degradation we may change your Services, (including without limitation, your Transmission Speed if you are a Broadband Service Customer) or manage your use of, or access to our Broadband Service as we see fit in the circumstances. These reasons include but are not limited to, any circumstances where you are running an application or program that places excessive bandwidth demands on the Broadband Service for continued periods.

(Highlighting is ours).

We haven't heard of any customers suffering from throttling but it does make us suspicious.

Traffic Management: In the past, TalkTalk claimed to throttle only the top 0.5% of users. Now, however, they don't publish any upper limits or warnings at all.

Even P2P appears to be traffic management free.

People with one of TalkTalk's TV packages will see that:

TV multicast traffic is managed over the network to optimise delivery of video on demand and TV channels over the TalkTalk broadband connection.

But unlike BT, there's no mention of additional bandwidth to ensure this level of service. As with their fair use policy, it's a little bit vague for our liking.

We say: a bit unfair

Fair Use: The satellite broadband provider has to be strict with users in order to keep speeds up and latency down, given the technology involved.

For all but the 100GB package, the fair use policy is fairly straightforward, if tough.

Anyone exceeding their total data limit will still be able to use the internet, but they'll find subsequent internet access seriously throttled, with both uploads and downloads limited to speeds of 64Kb at most.

Package Usual speed Once usage limit exceeded
2GB 5Mb download, 1Mb upload 64Kb for both
10GB 22Mb download, 6Mb upload 64Kb for both. Once 2GB has been uploaded, maximum upload peak rate is up to 3Mb.
25GB 22Mb download, 6Mb upload 64Kb for both. Once 5GB has been uploaded, maximum upload peak rate is up to 3Mb.
40GB 22Mb download, 6Mb upload 64Kb for both. Once 8GB has been uploaded, maximum upload peak rate is up to 3Mb.
100GB (40GB + 60GB) 22Mb download, 6Mb upload Once 40GB of data up- and downstream has been used, only basic browsing and email are available during peak hours.
Once 100GB has been used, only basic browsing and email are available at any time.

In addition, subscribers who have used more than 50% of their data allowance for the month will be the first subjected to extra traffic management when the network is congested.

Customers with the 25GB, 40GB, and 100GB packages can avoid too much throttling by going online between midnight and 6am, when data used isn't counted towards their package limits.

However, customers with the 100GB package - or as Tooway call it, the 40GB + 60GB package - still face limitations once they've used 40GB of data, whether uploading or downloading, each month.

During peak hours, they'll be limited to traditional web browsing and sending and receiving emails of up to 10Mb each - and the same limit will be applied at all times should a 100GB customer exceed their total data limit for the month.

We say: getting fairer

Fair Use: All Virgin Media's cable broadband deals are unlimited, but there are usage limits on uploads during peak times and weekends. Users who exceed these will still be able to download as quickly as normal, but their uploads will be throttled.

This is a big change for Virgin Media, who were previously notorious for reducing the download speeds of heavy users significantly, sometimes by as much as 50%.

Here's how it works.

Usage limits: The following limits apply between 4pm and 11pm during the week, and between 11am and 11pm at the weekend.

Users who go over the first limit for their package within an hour will be slowed as detailed below for an hour. If they stop or reduce the amount they're uploading, they'll be back up to their standard upload speed 60 minutes later.

If they keep uploading so that they reach the second listed limit, they'll be slowed for two hours from the point they hit that limit.

If they stop uploading as soon as they hit the limit, they'll be back up to speed in minimum time. If they continue to upload data, they'll stay throttled for two hours after the point they do stop uploading.

Deal Standard upload speed Upload usage limit Upload speed reduction
Superfibre 50 3Mb 1000MB 1536Kb (-50%)
Two hour limit 1350MB 1152Kb (-63%)
Superfibre 70 5Mb 1200MB 2560Kb (-50%)
Two hour limit 1500MB 1792Kb (-63%)
Vivid 100 6Mb 1250MB 3072Kb (-50%)
Two hour limit 1600MB 2176Kb (-63%)
Vivid 150 10Mb 1700MB 5120Kb (-50%)
Two hour limit 2250MB 3584Kb (-65%)
Vivid 152 / 200 12Mb 2250MB 6144Kb (-50%)
Two hour limit 3000MB 4352Kb (-65%)

Although these are harsh penalties and cutting speeds significantly, the fact that Virgin Media no longer restrict downloads does make this far less harsh a policy than previously.

General traffic management: Unrelated to individual usage, Virgin also manage, by slowing down, peer-to-peer and newsgroup traffic for all users in the peak hours above and at weekends.

To sum up...

Over the past few years, many broadband providers have gone 'truly unlimited', more or less ditching fair use altogether.

Maybe it's because customers really like unlimited or maybe it's because they had to become a lot more upfront with their fair use and other traffic management policies largely because the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) started asking them to publish a standardised table of their restrictions.

Whatever the reason, we'll continue monitoring them here - "truly" unlimited has come and gone before - and it'd be great to add your experiences so that we can give as full a picture as possible.

Comment below or drop us an email, especially if your broadband provider has informed you that you've exceeded an unadvertised usage cap.

Comments

1
5 April 2016
A Joyce

Virgin media are a pain to deal with.

2
25 February 2016
Peedowft

Virgin Media is a joke 50mb/d 3mb/u and constantly throttled watching Netflix YT Amazon etc 3 kids in my house and 2 adults and service reduced to 25mb causing stuttering freezing and kids unable to do school work, if you reduce the service reduce the cost or provide the service you advertise !!!!

3
3 February 2016
kay

I have virgin media and because of uploading have had the 50% restrictions. However I'm confused by this review saying that they do not cap downloading at the same time because they definitely still do. During restriction we have never been about to open a single web site because it times out after about 5 mins. Just don't want people to be confused, an engineer that came out to us today said the restrictions include downloading which is why we're having such a problem. We will be leaving virgin!

4
10 January 2016
Download

100GB is nothing! I download it in 2 days.

5
10 September 2015
MaInY

I'm also with Virgin Media on the 60Mb package, I can't play any online games during peak times or most of the weekend due to the speed of the connection. I wouldn't mind if I was torrenting or some rubbish like that, but it's simply online gaming and the odd youtube video.

6
15 August 2015
Dylan

Sounds like my Plusnet package will be good. Virgin's advertised downlink speeds are pure marketing at this point, meanwhile its uplink speeds suck. (That downlink:uplink ratio is dreadful!)

7
21 May 2015
dognaut

I pay for 40Mb download, but I get 1Mb download speed. And it's really annoying me. Where as my cousin gets 80Mb download speed and my friend gets just below 250Mb download speed. I'm getting really furious.

8
21 May 2015
Debbie Jackson

I checked and double-checked TalkTalk's fair use policies (or notable lack thereof) before switching to them earlier today. I was happy to see that they state outright they don't practice any download management, but after reading this article I'm getting really concerned. Have I signed up to an existing but unspecified fair use policy by accident? I don't want to be paranoid about the call from the ISP saying 'you overdownloaded..'.

9
18 April 2015
UnimpressedDeveloper

Being a web developer I guess I will NOT be going with Virgin Media because of this, uploads are essential for me and a huge part of my everyday usage of the internet. In this day and age doing things like this bother me...

10
3 January 2015
Skiddywinks

When I spoke to Plusnet they said they had no traffic shaping or throttling at all. The only traffic management is QoS on your router as far as I know.

11
9 October 2014
Pete Thompson

I'm with Primus... costs me £2 for 16Mb. I've never had an outage nor slow traffic, I get the full 16Mb too. The only problems have been odd billing issues, and a really bad online control panel (with multiple passwords - as if they took over a company). Either way looks like TalkTalk wholesale. I won't be downloading as much as the fibre boys of course, but the odd ISO here and there plus Netflix HD puts me in the 80GB bracket.

12
26 June 2014
Andrei

Having spoken to Sharlene on EE Broadband Customer Services this is what I scooped up.

Speeds are limited in cases of P2P downloads and Newsgroups only and nothing else during their peak hours as per this article.

The speeds are limited to 21Mb with fibre and 8Mb with ADSL with omits lifted at 1am.

13
24 April 2014
common sense

The bane of no speed limits is that the network will get overloaded and high utilisation will occur, meaning everyone in those areas end up with slow speeds. I would rather be capped for over using the internet, then to constantly be in a high utilised area, where your speeds will be even worse. Trust me you don't want that, however normal people just don't understand and moan until all companies have to go no limits and more slow speeds will occur and then more moaning will endure.

14
17 March 2014
Becca

It's not getting any better for Virgin customers, here are the thresholds for current tariffs: <a href="http://my.virginmedia.com/traffic-management/traffic-management-policy-thresholds.html" rel="nofollow">http://my.virginmedia.com/traf...</a>

15
1 March 2014
Joshua

I use just under 200GB a month with BT and I'm never slowed down. Getting infinity in a few days so I'm looking forward to some good gaming :)

16
31 January 2014
The_Nerevarine

Virgin Media's new Traffic Management policy is more than fair when you consider that even a 16% reduction on 30Mb still leaves you with roughly 25Mb and you can therefore still download at around 3Mb/s. Surely that's fast enough for anyone, especially when you consider that 30Mb is a CONSTANT 30Mb and so is the reduced 25Mb, so it's not like you have to suffer slow braodband. You can download massive amounts of data on 30Mb broadband between the hours of 4pm-11pm (weekdays) and 11am-11pm (weekends).
I will admit though that the limits put on uploading data are quite restrictive but Virgin Media is not known for it's great upload speeds anyway as they are generally about 10% of the download speeds.

10 September 2015
MaInY

I'm on the 60Mb package and during peak times I'm lucky to get 2Mb down and 2Mb up. So I think they are throttling a little more than that. Or they have massively over subscribed their network and don't have the bandwidth to cope.

17
28 January 2014
Dean

Virgin mobile slowed me down from AVG 4.5 GB to 0.2-0.3 meaning it buffers like mad on Youtube. This was after I hit just 3GB download, not inpressed so phoned up and they said they automatically slow it down at 3.5GB. TBH 3.5GB is not fair and seems very low with the amount you can do nowadays with smartphones. Lucky for me I'm sim only deal, and have another 2 phones on my account so I'm ditching them and going back to 3 network. That is proper unlimited and used many a time over 10GB a month.

18
24 January 2014
rocksoccer

I am an O2 broadband user. But after knowing they've sold their broadband business to Sky, I am also thinking to move to another company.

19
27 November 2013
Langford

How can you find out if you are being traffic managed?

16 December 2013
Cal M

<a href="http://broadband.mpi-sws.org/transparency/bttest.php" rel="nofollow">http://broadband.mpi-sws.org/t...</a>

Use it when you think you are being traffic shaped, I know I am with Virgin after 4pm currently waiting for my local exchange to be upgraded.

20
17 October 2013
lee r

I've been with the Post Office for a few years now and just had my speeds increased to 11Mb and have the new FUP to deal with, I've already used 71GB this week so I eagerly await their reply for exceeding their limit (says in terms of use they will contact me before restricting my speeds).
It's a pity because their service is pretty good, customer service excellent and also they give you free mobile calls at weekends with the broadband extra package.

21
25 September 2013
Trevor Celebkidnapperforhire P

I'm having major issues with Post broadband at the moment, they started upgrading in September, turns out, upgrading means messing it all up. I'm not the only person, either.

11 March 2014
Bob

Same here. Ever since they switched to TalkTalk, streaming video, and in particular the BBC iPlayer, has been virtually unusable.

Support rep on the phone told me "there've been no changes". Except if you search you find they've apparently moved all their business from BT to TalkTalk. Not sure how that lines up with "no changes". They sent me a new modem which has made no difference at all. The iPlayer diagnostic app shows me reasonable speed for download, and horrible speed for streaming. Someone's doing some fairly heavy traffic shaping somewhere.

22
6 September 2013
Steve

Plusnet offer a pro add on for &pound;5 per month (taking the 76mb fibre package to &pound;25). This removes the traffic management and is still cheaper than nearly all the other providers.

23
18 June 2013
shane

TalkTalk don't slow you down anymore, there is no fair usage policy in place. I'm with BT ADSL service and I've never been slowed down, all ways at 18Mb down and 1Mb up.

24
12 June 2013
Chris

Got a huge shock after downloading my brand new music creation software (Ableton Live 9), not only was the whole thing 'throttled' so it took 4 attempts to download it all, I was then presented with a &pound;50 surcharge, this is on BT. Since I've had BT I've had nothing but trouble with my internet which can crash upwards of 5 times in a day, particularly when I fileshare to/from music websites such as SoundCloud, which are legitimate sites I pay to belong to. I'll be moving soon as I'm fed up... not sure where though = (

25
6 June 2013
jimmy

Well it's 12:50am and Virgin is still capping my speed.

26
2 June 2013
neil marshall

I'm with Virgin. I'm traffic managed, it would be nice if they told me this before spending hours on the phone thinking there was something wrong with my connection. My son is online as well, but Virgin said that I had downloaded 259GB in 3 months. I said I didn't believe them even though my son had download some games, I can see us using that much. Even the wireless hub is rubbish. I will be looking elsewhere in the next few weeks.

27
3 May 2013
sharon shieber

Hi I have my broadband with Daisy communications. I have recently been in a battle with them regarding over usage on my downloading. I entered a contract for unlimited downloads but now I have been charged for over usage. They are quoting their fair usage policy saying that whilst I have unlimited downloads, if I go over 100mb then they will charge me &pound;1.50 per 1mb. They say in their policy that if I continually go over my limit, (which I don't have because I should have unlimited) they will upgrade my policy to put me on the best package, they did this last year and I haven't had a problem until now, when they say I have gone over for just one month and now they want to charge me.

What I don't understand is that if I was constantly using over the 100mg every month then I could understand it, but this is for just one month and now they want to charge me. I would like some idea of how I can complain against this extra charge. I am sure this comes under the mis selling of a contract to provide services.

Any comments would be useful. Thank you.

28
18 April 2013
Dave

I have been with BE Unlimited for years and always had a great service, never any problems with throttling or limits.

However, as BE Unlimited has now been sold to Sky, I don't want anything to do with that company, based on previous experience, so I am now looking for a replacement service.

It's so sad because BE have been brilliant, suppose all good things have to come to an end!

7 April 2014
Baxi44

Amen!

29
9 April 2013
joao

So during the night from 9pm to 10am there's no problem? We can download without limits? I'm with Virgin Media 60Mb.

30
1 April 2013
Paul

I am with Virgin Media on the 10Mb package and we are being constantly traffic managed although my internet use hasn't changed it is a recent thing. Do they just carry out random spot checks. When I phoned to complain I felt there was more than a little threat to say "we can see every site you've visited so do you really want to complain". Anyone else had a similar experience.

31
24 March 2013
phil

I'm with Virgin Media and I'm getting traffic managed and it's affecting my gaming and I'm really annoyed with it and I'm on 60Mb.

32
25 February 2013
M Jenkins

I'm considering switching to one of BT's new "unlimited" packages as I'm with them for phone anyway. I currently pay &pound;23 a month for my broadband and to be fair, it's absolutely rock-solid (Andrews &amp; Arnold) and never slows down. The only issue for me is that I'm on a sort of business-oriented tariff and as such am limited to 2 and a 1/4GB during daytime (9am-6pm) hours. Not usually an issue as I'm at work but my wife has started working from home more and more, so the usage is starting to mount up.

Thankfully the usage is measured in 'blocks' (I won't go into details, but I buy 3 of these data blocks per month which get used up in the order they fill first) and as my evening/weekend usage is not huge I can allow for 2x daytime blocks to be used up, giving 5GB monthly usage. This does leave the other usage vulnerable to going over though, which is why I'm considering switching.

The only thing stopping me is that BT have traditionally been absolutely terrible. When I've spoken to friends or family who've had BT they tell me it's slow or throttled, or they're forever on the phone to tech support trying to solve some problem or other.

I appreciate that it's probably not as bad as they make out, but it still paints a fairly negative experience. I just want my broadband to work 24/7 as it should, and at the moment it does just that. The grass is not always greener and switching away from BT will mean I lose my legacy tariff on A&amp;A. The fact it's an 18 month sign up is another possible headache..!

33
25 February 2013
Culdy Pete

RE: PRIMUS

I am on Primus unlimited and I do not go anywhere near the limit of their FUP yet at peak times even watching youtube videos is horribly slow because they clearly throttle bandwidth during those times.

I am getting speeds of only 100Kbs during 'peak times' and a max speed 'off peak' of 1.5Mbs and I am literally a stones throw from telephone exchange so it's not like I am in the middle of nowhere. I would not recommend them to anyone.

At night my service (including telephone) often turns off completely so I can't use internet or phone, and calls to them when my phone and internet reactivates is met with a "we can't find any problems with your line it seems to be working okay" response. Well Duh! Of course there is no problem now, it's back on. When it goes off at night their switchboard is closed so you can't complain until the morning by which time it has miraculously fixed itself.

I am not being deliberately restricted according to them but I clearly am. Avoid this company like a plague.

34
18 February 2013
Andrew Woodger

This makes very interesting reading to me as I've been having a long term battle with Virgin Media over my download speed.

Cutting to the chase, evenings in particular can be affected by slow broadband speeds, I'm on 60Mbps but of an evening this can be as low as 0.5Mbps (according to <a href="http://Speedtest.net" rel="nofollow">Speedtest.net</a>).

My complaints weren't dealt with satisfactorily so I wrote to the CEO! I got a response quite quickly and was reimbursed &pound;80 and my speed uprated to 60Mb from 20Mb! I was also told the problem with "high utilisation" will be resolved... a date given... sadly the date came and went and still the problem remained. There were times when things were actually ok, but never consistent.

Reading this article, it's suddenly dawned on me that my 2 kids download a lot of games via the Steam network or films, some games are HUGE! So... am I being capped, or traffic managed?

The latest complaint has in fact resulted in Virgin Media reimbursing me &pound;100, this is great, but to be honest, I'd rather have a broadband connection that was consistent.

35
7 February 2013
Andrew Benham

BE Broadband, with their unlimited download policy, have just terminated a customer's service because of excessive downloading: <a href="http://beusergroup.co.uk/?id=926" rel="nofollow">http://beusergroup.co.uk/?id=9...</a>

36
17 January 2013
Jen

Plusnet does truly unlimited broadband for only &pound;9.99.

17 January 2013
Choose team

Well spotted - we've updated the article above to include Plusnet's new unlimited deal.

37
13 December 2012
Alex Mellows

We are with Orange unlimited, but got a letter today from EE saying we are now with them on a 20GB deal! The 20GB is the only reason we left BT in the first place, very annoying! Will try and cancel I think...

38
30 October 2012
wez

O2 is a joke, me and my girlfriend decided to get the &pound;7.50 take away deal. They checked our postcode and said we were good to go! When we set up the box and phoned them up they said they didn't have coverage for our area and to use their broadband we would have to to pay &pound;22.50. So after about 2 months, we get a call from them telling us we are downloading too much. I asked them how much are we downloading? They said 30GB a month, on an unlimited contract that's peanuts compared to what other people use. Anyway in the end they cut us off for downloading 25GB in the month after. Stay away from O2!

30 October 2012
Choose team

Hi Wez,

That's a shame to hear about your bad experience with O2. I think it's worth pointing out it sounds like you were on the O2 Access product, which is a resold BT wholesale service, not O2 LLU (The Basics, All Rounder and The Works) which have a good reputation as they run over the BE network.

O2 Access has garnered a poor reputation in the past due to customer complaints on speeds, contention/throtting and download allowances.

Our round up above only covers O2 LLU packages, but we'll look into adding details for O2 Access for anyone outside of the O2/Be network area.

In the meantime you can read more about the differences between O2 LLU and O2 Access products in our <a href="/media/broadband/reviews/o2/#review" rel="nofollow">review of O2 broadband here</a>.

39
4 October 2012
steve hounslea

Has anyone done the fag packet figures regarding traffic management? I have this notion having been "traffic managed" by Virgin with my 100Mb service.

Please correct me if wrong but here goes. I was told tonight by Virgin that if I download 400GB per month I will be managed. So here goes. I can download at 100Mb per second ok, so 1GB approx per ten seconds. They traffic manage me at 400GB so I can download at the full speed they provide for two and a half hours per month... how fair is that usage policy WHATEVER time I use it???

4 January 2014
Josh Haigh

100Mb is 100 million bits.
1GB is 1000 million bytes, or 8000 million bits, so 1GB downloaded is approx 80 seconds full speed.
400GB is nearly 9 hours, and you're right, this does seem very constricted.

4 October 2012
Choose team

Hi Steve,

It seems Virgin may be trailing a new traffic management policy on some customers from 23rd October for a month. It looks like some customers in Aldershot, Liverpool and Reading are part of the initial trial. There's more information on this here: <a href="http://bit.ly/QDTFVU" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/QDTFVU</a>

40
2 October 2012
Zac

Great round up.

Demon unlimited has a 50GB rolling month limit on the FUP and they act like they are going to enforce it if you go over you are throttled to 128Kbps until your rolling month falls below 50GB again.

41
23 August 2012
ChrisD

Thanks Neil for the info on Fup, I have been with Talktalk for a few years now and carried on with them since my contract ran out 2 months ago, since then and only since then I lose my connection at least 3 times a day sometimes for several hours and my speed drops so much that I can't even watch a music clip on Youtube without the dreaded circle appearing on my screen.

I rang them and they said there is nothing wrong with my line and it's a fault with my cables in the house and want &pound;130 to come and sort it out. I declined and replaced all the cables/router and still experience slow bandwidth and line disconnection. I then checked with other Talktalk users and found they have the same problem after coming out of a contract with them. I since found out yesterday that my traffic is being monitored and they moved me to unlimited broadband with a warning of being throttled if I use too much bandwidth during peak times. Not bad eh seeing as I didn't asked for unlimited or have ever exceeded my allowance in all the time Ive been with them. Sky's broadband deal is looking better to me everyday. Keep up the good work on the real deals of these companies and their lying policies.

42
17 March 2012
flyingeagle

Shame on Virgin, those guys are cheating customers. When you sign a contract, they tell you we're going to give you 10Mb download speed, unlimited usage, etc. But once you are with them you'll find out how bad are they, the data traffic control is a big cheat, for the contract of 10Mb speed you have the limit of 1.5GB data download which is between 4pm-9pm (as you know most people come back home from a busy day trying to find something joyful then suddenly shocked with Virgin's fool cheating policy) if you exceed that limit, your broadband turns out to be turtle-band internet, they say the "punishment" should not last longer than 5 hrs which is obviously wrong. I want to know a fact that while most houses nowadays have more than three computers, pads and with revolutionary expansion of data transfer throughout the internet, why Virgin still want to deal with us as in 2000 era, that is really so disappointing and shameful. Final point, I want to say that Virgin should put the phrase of (limited) download and also not to put 10Mb speed as most days it is 2.5Mb because of Virgin's punishment policy.

18 February 2015
Tcl

I agree, what is the definition of the word Unlimited? We the pawns of these corporates UK wake up, VM customers wake up, if we all took 5 minutes to write to VM with our concerns we may stand a chance. Imagine the people's phone company, a collective of person's getting together and forming a mobile phone company, people stand up.

43
2 February 2012
Grumpy

I don't agree with the Orange comments, they do manage traffic, and in a very crude way - it is pretty obvious that as soon as Orange see streaming traffic on your connection, the bandwidth gets throttled.

44
13 December 2011
Aman

I just signed up to a contract with Virgin Media. As soon as I was connected I tried online gaming and I was surprised at the lag and spikes I was getting, I mean seriously the traffic management shouldn't put me in list the moment I start using it. Every 30 sec the game gets stuck and I get disconnected - I'm on the XL 15Mb plan but my speed is mostly around 2-3Mb. I think that is the real transparent policy you are talking about 'JON'.

45
24 November 2011
John

I have been with Virgin for 8 years now, and have used the internet just as much maybe even more over the past 7 years, now all of a sudden I have just found out that I am under Traffic Control which means my 10Mbps connection before 5pm is now 2Mbps after 5pm.

I phoned Virgin and they stated that I have been under this traffic control since february this year. Are they just making this up as they go along, as throughout the 7 years I've been with them I've never had an issue until now.

Also in the past I used to hammer online gaming but I've not been doing this for a long time. I also had to call them to find out about this. Do I have any rights at all, as shouldn't they have notified me about this before downgrading my package?

I also asked if there was anything that I could do as I use the internet after 5pm as that's when I finish work and they stated no. I'm now thinking about cancelling my subscription as I only use the internet after 5pm when I finish work and need the 10Mbps for online gaming in 2012 when Diablo 3 comes out, which needs a constant internet connection.

Do I have any rights regarding this as mentioned I have been with them for 8 years and now all of a sudden they have done this and not notified me about it and also stated that there is nothing I can do.

46
12 October 2011
Rob

I recently signed up to Orange broadband as the sales rep said there was no fair usage policy and I could download as much as I wanted. Three weeks in, I find out I can only download 5GB a month during peak times and my speeds will be crippled if I even go over it slightly. I'm going to call them tomorrow and try to cancel the contract as they mis-sold the package. Winds me up so much.

47
12 October 2011
Rich

I'm on BE and I tend to only download heavily during the night. I know there is no fair policy but my data is not critical. I can wait until the next day.

Why cripple the network during peak, maxing my line out and potentially force BE "into" fair usage when I don't think there is a need? If more people did what I did and downloaded certain things at certain times and leave now stuff to now, then the BE network will be able to survive the heavy traffic. I think so anyway.

As they say, if everybody hammered it all the time, they will impose traffic management. The reason I went with BE is there is no restriction, no peak times, no worries from me. I've been with BE a long time now and still very very happy. It's &pound;17 so you can't moan really, for what you get.

48
5 October 2011
Jon

Virgin are criticised in this article despite them being upfront and honest about their "limits". Orange claim no limits but have a track record of the opposite, yet they come up better.

@Nick: If you've only got through 2GB in 2 weeks, you are only likely to have a problem with Virgin if you used all of that between 4-9pm in any one day.

I would have to agree that at one extreme, if you get throttled on Virgin 10 minutes before the peak period runs out then that can be incredibly frustrating. But the daytime limit is plenty generous enough, evening management is a necessary evil and by just being careful with downloads in excess of 1GB you at least know exactly where you stand.

49
3 September 2011
aj

Orange restrict p2p activities down to 30kB/s during peak time, even though speedtest shows the line is capable of performing at a much higher speed. It's really annoying since i have a 10Mb line. Is there any way to bypass this restriction?

50
20 August 2011
RN

I worked for O2, Sky and now Orange. O2 restrict speeds at 4pm on peer to peer downloading, Sky increase your package automatically once you have gone over your usage twice and Orange truly are unlimited (I download, on average, 300GB a month).

51
11 August 2011
Allan

Massive fan of BT Infinity now as I have seen that Virgin Media puts annoying restrictions that would definitely affect me. I am in the top 3% of users that download endless amounts each month, with O2 I was cut off and with Sky in my area it would be the same.

I now have BT Infinity Option 2 and with only P2P downloads (I only use at night) being affected at all, I can now enjoy truly unlimited 40Mb down, 10Mb up, 20ms ping, Internet that is running so far since 6 months 24/7.

52
6 July 2011
Baron

Also I believe that Sky broadband is real "unlimited".

6 July 2011
Choose team

Very true. See our <a href="/media/broadband/reviews/sky/" rel="nofollow">is Sky broadband any good?</a> guide for more on that.

53
20 June 2011
JP

Nick - that is a download capacity per day, not per month with a dongle. Wifi in the pub will usually not allow big downloads or uploads.

54
18 June 2011
Mike

I am a long standing Orange customer, on their "unlimited" home package, with inclusive calls through the livebox, all for a bargain price. However, I repeatedly get my line speed throttled back from around 5Mbit to just over 0.5Mbit, for extended periods, sometimes months on end, with no prior warning.

After a long conversation with Orange customer services, I was informed that customers on non-Orange equipment at the exchange, who are still on the old pricing scheme, are actually on a FuP of 5GB/month in peak times!

I find it disgusting that something so small can be sold as unlimited, and that its not even in their current FuP!

18 June 2011
Choose team

You're not alone. Readers of this article should note that we're covering current fair-use policies on this page for the interest of those trying to decided which broadband provider to go with. Those with 'legacy' deals (i.e. those not available to new customers) may be subject to different rules.

55
18 June 2011
Andrew

Why did you leave out Sky? Their Sky Unlimited (or whatever they call it now) is unlimited and has no fair use policy. It's only available to those people on 'Sky' exchanges but most people in decent sized towns / cities are.

18 June 2011
Choose team

Hi Andrew, we're currently updating the article to include fair use breakdowns of all the providers. You are right though - <a href="/media/broadband/reviews/sky/" rel="nofollow">Sky's unlimited broadband</a> deals really are truly unrestricted with no fair use policy at all.

56
16 June 2011
Nick

I am worried now that I have just signed to Virgin Media's L package. I was on O2 mobile broadband and had a 2GB limit a month. I ate that in just under 2 weeks! So if Virgin's so-called 'unlimited' broadband is just a fraction above rubbish dongle snail-band then I may just use wi-fi in the pub instead. Think I might cancel now after what I have read on here!

57
14 April 2011
Debbie Jackson

As an O2 Access customer (I live in a non-cabled area) who purchased the service as completely unlimited originally, I would say their Fair Usage Policy is definitely unfair.

The policy was recently cut to a limit of 20GB a month yet it's still vaunted as 'unlimited'. Those who go over these limits in any 4-week period are told to reduce their usage the next month or have their internet cut off.

Although we've only been warned once, it seems a very unfair ruling on a contract with the 'unlimited' descriptor and also on a contract that was purchased with no cap (soft or otherwise). What is more we cannot upgrade as no other packages are available in our area.

O2 have been fantastic in almost all other aspects but for those of us on Access the FUP is not fair.

2 July 2013
Mike Marsh

I am with Virgin Media unlimited, my download speed is 7Mbs. I also use UseNext and from 11am to midnight I cannot download anything from UseNext, then at midnight I can get my full 7Mb download speed until 11am the next morning. My internet speed throughout 24/7 stays at 7Mb, but not when downloading from UseNext. Anyone know why this is? As every time I ring Virgin Media (India) no one can explain why this is, they assure me I'm not downloading too much, and they will look into it, nothing ever happens. They said they would reset my line profile which they say has a 12Mb profile and I am now getting 7Mbs where before I was getting 8Mb download, so frustrating. I thought T/management was between 5pm and 11pm.

2 July 2013
Choose team

Hi Mike,

This is most likely because Virgin Media slow down peer-to-peer and Newsgroup (UseNext) traffic at peak times: currently defined as 4pm to 12 midnight weekdays and 11am to 12 midnight at weekends.

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