By: MarkJ - 26 May, 2010 (5:35 AM)
o2 logoBroadband ISP O2 UK has attempted to clarify the level of usage restrictions and Traffic Management imposed upon customers of their BTWholesale based Home Access package. The package, which is supposed to share the same "unlimited downloads" as its better performing non-BT unbundled ( LLU ) options (e.g. Standard, Premium and Pro), now suggests that its customers should aim to use "less than 10GB [GigaBytes] per month".

The move follows concern over the providers issuance of warning letters to those it deems to be among the "heaviest users" on its Home Broadband Access service. Related customers are warned that they could face disconnection unless their usage is reduced and indeed an unknown number have already been cut-off.


This policy is by no means new and O2 has been "contacting less than 10% of [its] heaviest users" since the end of March this year. The practice appears to form part of wider efforts to improve the performance of its Home Access package, which should not be confused with O2's otherwise strong and less restrictive unbundled options.

O2 Statement from March 26th 2010

As some of you have been discussing, we’ve started to disconnect some of the very highest usage customers whose download patterns have detrimentally affected other customers’ experience, even after we have requested them to reduce their usage and explained the effect it’s having. We will continue this in order to improve the experience for the majority of the customers on the service.

We are also making the service run more efficiently by updating the hardware and software that runs the Access service. This will improve the prioritisation of the real-time activity, such as streaming, over less time-sensitive activities such as P2P.

However since that process began there have been growing calls from customers for O2 to clarify precisely what "unlimited downloads" actually mean, with respect to the Home Access package. Recently one customer, who posted on O2's Support Forum, got an unofficial answer.

An O2 Customer Services rep said:

"I’d like to confirm that there is no set amount of usage that will result in a warning email from us. We constantly monitor the network and those customers whose usage has a detrimental effect on the experience of others, will be contacted. We’re contacting less than 10% of our heaviest users at the moment and you fell into this top tier. The majority use less than 10GB and at present if you use less than 40GB, you wouldn’t hear from us."

The implication appears to be that O2 Home Access will view anybody who uses over 40GB within any given month as being a problem for their service. However a new update to O2's Traffic Management help pages, as spotted by the BeUsergroup, suggests that customers should actually try to use a lot less than the 40GB suggested above.
How much should I cut my broadband use?

Most O2 customers use less than 10GB a month. Aim for that and you’ll be okay.

Your product is unlimited, so why are you telling me to use less?

There aren't any usage limits on any of our O2 Home Broadband packages. That means you can download and upload as much as you like each month, within reason.

Our network's been designed to cope with people downloading large files (like music or films) and watching video online. But if you're using the service excessively – like continually downloading large files at peak times – then we do reserve the right to warn you to lower your usage. In exceptional circumstances, we can even terminate your account.

This is because excessive use by a few people can reduce the speed that other customers in the same area can get. We just want to provide everyone with an excellent level of service.
So there you have it, there "aren't any usage limits", you can even "download and upload as much as you like each month" so long as it is "within reason" (i.e. aim for 10GB and you'll be fine). O2 no doubt hopes that this should be nice and clear for everybody.

The news couldn't really come at a worse time, especially after the launch of their new high profile 'Niggles and Narks' TV, press and online advertising campaign (here). The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the woeful broadband performance of O2's competitors, while simultaneously promoting their own service as better.

It is of course important to again reiterate the fact that this article relates entirely to the O2 Home Access package and not their more popular, more affordable and generally better performing unbundled solutions.
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Comments: 22

asa logotimeless
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 7:19 AM
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now this makes sense... not...
asa logoVM
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 10:23 AM
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for god's sake stop advertising UNLIMITED to customers! They should tell customers more clearly of how many usage allowance are there before signing up.

I am fed up with many isp's are misleading customers! I am going to take this matter to the government.
asa logoHo
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 10:49 AM
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So ITS a good thing I'm using the Premium service then right?
asa logoGaga
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 11:08 AM
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Government bodies etc constantly talk about misleading consumers but when it comes to ISP selling their services they get away with it. Why? It should be mandatory any adverts should clearly state these facts. Rather than compete on price, compete on quality.
asa logoMarkJ
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 11:22 AM
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Yes 'Ho', O2's Standard, Premium and Pro packages are unbundled and do not have the same problems as the Home Access service.
asa logoSteve
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 12:00 PM
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I've made several complaints, over many years. (like many others) about the incorrect usage of the word 'unlimited'.
None of the government bodies are at all interested.

what it needs, is a court case. where someone is disconnected, goes to court, claims breach of contract, because the text states 'unlimited'.. and then wins the case.
Its the only thing that will get ISPs to change they way they work.
asa logoo1nk
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 1:22 PM
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I had the email for excessive downloads (40.1gb) on the Unlimited Access account.
I phone Customer Services and they say it doesn't matter if you download at OFF PEAK or PEAK. It also doesn't matter if you are streaming IPlayer or 4OD. It doesn't matter if you have a Steam account and it certainly doesn't matter if you have an XBox Live account to do the downloading

The bottom line from them?
"Bandwidth is bandwidth"

10gb is one TV episode on iPlayer per day .... and nothing else

I personally say:
O2 broadband is like being given a Formula One car with a tank that can hold a litre of petrol .... you can only go to the shop and back. Don't even think about going to the Supermarket or even on holiday
asa logoVM
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 1:27 PM
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This isp's shouldn't be get away with UNLIMITED as many customers does sign up to 12 months contract thinking it was unlimited, UNLIMITED, UNLIMITED !!! but there ain't as they are usage allowance hidden on it. I suggest you all go to small claim cost in court that o2 does stated UNLIMITED and their T & C's never metion anything about hidden usage allowance capping on it.
asa logokds
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 3:04 PM
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O2's services is terrible now days. I'm on Premium. I live very close to the exchange. I use to get abt 16mbits/s now only get about 10mb/s even that is ok but they keep restarting the router when ever your use the full bandwith like watching any thing streaming like BBC iplayer,youtube, tvcatchup etc. I'll be moving soon I can't get virgin options are limited
asa logoVM
Posted: 26 May, 2010 - 4:16 PM
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I know the feeling kds, I am writing to David Cameron about the biggest problem with our broadband in uk is a big joke and ofcom are useless. I knew many customers are fed up with many isp's put a throttling on the line if using bbci player, you tubes video, streaming online, p2p, xbox. BT, Sky and Virgin are all doing this. Enough is enough as we all paid for a quality service. We are now heading backward to old century and old dial up again. There is no future of fastest broadband in uk and the government must act now to stop all isp's rip off uk customers of poor service, no excuse of poor line quality or virus on pc, that's a loads of crap talk.

The reason kds (post above) say he live close to exchange but we know BT are capped his line to ip-profile rate at 16000k but o2 capping him at 10000k because of usage allowance limit.
asa logoFailternet
Posted: 27 May, 2010 - 6:49 AM
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Looks like your article has been copied around some sites on the internet without giving credit back to either ispreview or the beusergroup for breaking it.
asa logoCarl Barron
Posted: 28 May, 2010 - 11:53 AM
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Trading standards should threaten to sue all ISPs who wrongly state unlimited usage.

The whole exercise of increasing broadband speed is seriously flawed, as all ISPs have a limited fair usage policy, even those ISPs who claim to give unlimited download still state a fair usage policy is in place. Hence by increasing the download speed the faster you reach your limit, before you either have restrictions placed on you and at worse loose your contract.

Until such time as this problem is addressed, the push to watch TV via Broadband will only hasten the problems occurrence. Hence the British Governments continued push for faster broad band and BTs 100Mb broadband heading for 2.5 million homes is totally pointless. Remove all caps on Broadband or expect all customers to switch to Virgin, as they are the only true unlimited download providers I know of.

My Broadband speed from AOL is up and down like a fiddlers elbow sometimes the download speed almost matches the slow upload speed, apart from frequently being cut off and having to close down both the router and the PC before I can reconnect.madmad

Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk
asa logoJack
Posted: 5 June, 2010 - 12:57 AM
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Class action law suit.
asa logounhappy o2 customer
Posted: 17 June, 2010 - 3:57 PM
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I complained to ISPA about an email I received from o2. My complaint was that o2 had mis sold me the o2 access product as unlimited when it clearly isn't. I was told at sign up that no FUP or usage caps would be introduced as o2 access was truly unlmited. The response to my complaint did not address the issue of false advertising and mis selling from o2 and only addressed the issue of the usage cap and FUP, which I was told the access product would never have.
asa logobeej
Posted: 25 June, 2010 - 9:43 PM
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I 2 have recently received email about disconnection if I dont cut my usage.I am currently on home access at 17.50 as im an o2 mobile user as well,1st point paying double compared to others in an unbundled area for slower speeds,my fault for where I live but can live with that.2nd point recently took out the o2 home phone package which you only get if your a broadband customer,if they cancel my broadband because of usage do they cancel my home phone as well which presumably is 12 month contract surely that is breach of contract on their part and may well be worth a visit to the solicitors.
asa logobeej
Posted: 25 June, 2010 - 9:57 PM
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I may not be a university candidate but I was at school and the definition UNLIMITED which I have checked out means,
without reservation or exception.
However o2 UNLIMITED seems to mean, without reservation or exception apart from a cap of 10GB.
Think the smart cookies at o2 need to head back to primary school and start again.
asa logotmartin
Posted: 6 July, 2010 - 5:38 PM
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We have the O2 access package and will be disconnected on the 12 August for excess usage. We moved from Nildram with 50 gig download limit to O2 for a faster download speed and the ability to download in excess of 50 gig or as much as we want, all confirmed with the sales person before change over. O2 have never told us about our so called excessive usage at any time. A telephone call confirmed that they were disconnecting us without previous notice. We are in an exchange that is not unbundled and it would appear from the O2 forum these are the main targets. Disgraceful treatment from a so called superior service company. Looks like Virgin will have another customer soon.
asa logoJohn
Posted: 22 July, 2010 - 2:02 PM
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I'm fuming - I too have had this threat made from O2 and I can't change provider and get a new contract because I'm planning to leave the country towards the end of the year. Plus, I need broadband for work. I explained this to the person on the phone and instead of being sensible and thinking 'well we're getting rid of his unwanted custom soon any way,' I was told I would be monitored for a month and cut off 30 days after that unless my usage dropped. I'm doubly insulted because O2 gets a fortune out of me every month via the international phone calls/texts I make on my mobile. Can't believe they're allowed to get away with this false advertising and appalling treatment of their customers.
asa logogeeky
Posted: 28 July, 2010 - 7:24 AM
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i too am being diconnected from o2 over 50gb 2 occasions. as said previously paying handsomely for an unlimited service and now being cut of for using too much absoloutely farscical
asa logothe rutz
Posted: 6 August, 2010 - 7:40 AM
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O2 are going to dissconnect me to as i have downloaded over 40gb for two months.


seems a bit stupid and wrong to me
asa logoUna
Posted: 19 January, 2011 - 11:04 AM
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The problem is that apparently o2 sells "unlimited" internet packages in the situation where they can't technically or for other reasons provide it. If they can't provide it, they should clearly state up to 40GB transfer and provide or give at least a link to the software that helps to control that. Otherwise even those who want to be within 40GB limits have a chance to obiey their rule.
But instead o2 offers "Unlimited" offer and deliberately mislead people - also by giving statements like "There aren't any usage limits on any of our O2 Home Broadband packages. That means you can download and upload as much as you like each month, within reason." WHat's "within reason" 40 GB is not nor is 10 GB. It's 21st century, video and software files are huge and getting bigger. And some people purchase games online - it means they download them from online shops! Also streaming and gaming online.
asa logoUna
Posted: 19 January, 2011 - 11:12 AM
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It's also extremely cheeky to create a small font rule and call it FAIR Use Policy. So, I get unlimited package and when I use more than 40 or recently 10 GB it's ME who is unfair???
How would you feel if you get a pricy unlimited access to the local gym and it turns out they sold 10 000 of such memberships and they tell you , OK, you can some twice a month otherwise YOU are not being fair towards other users who also have memberships. RIDICULOUS!
I thought UK was a law obedient country but there must be some connections that nobody takes care of that "unlimited package" scam. And it's not only o2. I also noticed even if you find out that some internet provider has so called "Fair Usage Policy" they hide it as much as possible and make it as vague as possible.

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