Uncovering UK Broadband ISP Fair Usage Policies and Traffic Shaping - ISPreview
Uncovering ISP Fair Usage Policies and Traffic Shaping
By: Mark Jackson and Zen Internet - April 7th, 2010 : Page 1 -of- 3
"A FUP is in effect additional Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) that may apply restrictions to "unlimited downloads" and means that many "unlimited" services are not what they appear to be."

This article was originally submitted by UK ISP Zen Internet and has since been edited to broaden its appeal.

Consumers probably hear the phrases 'Fair Usage Policy' (FUP), 'Traffic Management' and 'Traffic Shaping' banded about by the media but how many people actually know what they mean and the effect they can have on broadband speeds and service reliability?

Fair Usage Policy Text

Zen Internet believes that the use of such phrases can be misleading for consumers and therefore do not implement any of these practices. In this article we explain what they mean and explore the impact on broadband services where they are in force; both positive and negative.

Fair Usage Policy (FUP)

A FUP is in effect additional Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) that may apply restrictions to "unlimited downloads" and means that many "unlimited" services are not what they appear to be. Most contracts for unlimited broadband packages will include an FUP. These will often state a rate of usage, determined by the ISP a customer signs up to, that they deem to be unacceptable. If you hit this rate ISPs tend to:

• Slow down a customer's speed.
• Apply a charge for exceeding the limit.
• Actively manage (restrict) a customer's service along with other heavy users.

In addition many FUPs are often vague, which leads to confusion and can allow an ISP to covertly set general restrictions without you even knowing about it. This is akin to buying a brand new sports car without being told how much petrol is in the tank or the maximum speed on local roads. Sure it can probably drive at 100mph but that’s not much good if half of the roads limit to 30mph and you run out of fuel after just a few metres.

For persistent heavy users the ISPs may try to make their service seem so unattractive that the customer chooses to leave of their own accord. This is hardly surprising when you consider that only a small percentage (often less than 10%) of a provider’s customer base can be responsible for using the majority of its overall network capacity. It often makes more economic sense to squeeze the heaviest users and thus free up performance over a wider selection of subscribers.

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