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Wireless Broadband ISP Relish Threatens to Cut-off “Unlimited” Abusers

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 (1:23 pm) - Score 5,847

Fixed Wireless ISP Relish Wireless (UK Broadband Ltd.), which was recently acquired by Three UK and operates a 40Mbps capable LTE broadband network in central London and Swindon, has surprised users by introducing a vague Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) on their “unlimited” service.

The announcement – headlined “we’re making improvements” – was made as part of the provider’s latest newsletter and a copy has found its way into our inbox. The newsletter starts off well enough by informing customers about the work that Relish has been doing “across the entire network” to correct interference issues, which they claim should “give better signal, improving your stability and speed.”

Unfortunately Relish, which will shortly be celebrating their third anniversary, then takes a dive towards controversial territory by announcing the introduction of a new Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). The following is a short extract from their newsletter.

Keeping usage fair

We believe broadband should be unlimited, without data caps. And we are passionate about ensuring we can keep this for our customers.

Unfortunately really excessive use of the service can have a big impact on the experience for others. This is particularly true during the busy times when there are lots of other people trying to use their broadband.

Because of this, we’re introducing an Acceptable Use Policy. This means some of our heaviest users that are affecting the network could be contacted and they will be asked to reduce their usage. This just keeps it fair – and ensures that everyone has good speed and access – rather than a few people essentially clogging up the network. We will always keep an up to date explanation of our policy online if you want more information.

What does this mean for you? You still receive an unlimited broadband package with us at Relish, but there is now an Acceptable Use Policy in place. For 99% of our customers, they will not be affected by this change- if anything, you should see an improvement.

A copy of the new AUP can be found on the ISP’s website and, aside from being very vague about what would actually constitute abuse of Relish’s service, the policy also confirms that in extreme cases the ISP may choose to “suspend” or “terminate” subscribers for heavy usage.

Relish’s Acceptable Use Policy

So, if we determine in our sole opinion that your unlimited use of our Service either exceeds that reasonably expected of someone using the Service or materially affects other users’ enjoyment of the Service, or has an adverse impact on our network, then we will by written notice, give you a 14 day period in which to reduce your usage to levels to be reasonably expected of a person using the Service.

As a result, if your levels of usage activity have not decreased within the 14-day notification period, we may at our discretion either:

1. Suspend or terminate your Service and/or

2. Place your Service under what we call traffic management (where a traffic management policy has been implemented) as and when we deem necessary to ensure the most efficient use of our network for all our customers.

Suffice to say that it’s been quite a few years since we had to report on news of an ISP doing something like this. One of the reasons for that is because of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which in 2012 introduced a new guideline to help tackle misleading promotions of “unlimited” terminology. However it does not appear as if Relish has taken fully account of those guidelines and so here’s a helpful reminder.

According to the ASA, terms like “unlimited” can only be used if the customer incurs no additional charge or suspension of service as a consequence of exceeding a usage threshold associated with a Fair Usage Policy, Traffic Management measures or similar policy. The ASA also expects any limitations that affect the speed or usage of a service to be moderate and clearly explained in any advertisements.

Sadly existing customers who choose to disagree with the new AUP are simply told to “cease use of the Service with immediate effect.” In fairness it is still very challenging for smaller providers to offer “unlimited” packages and so we can understand why Relish might seek to impose a new rule, although they clearly need to clarify precisely what constitutes excessive usage and stop using “unlimited” if they can no longer offer it. Credits to one of our readers (Morgan) for highlighting the change.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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20 Responses
  1. John Miles says:

    This illustrates the difficulty that ‘Wireless Broadband’ faces. The most costly part of for any broadband provider is the access portion – i.e. last mile. With DSL broadband there is a fixed cost with no additional cost for using that part, conversely for wireless broadband the effect of contention means that access cost inevitably rises with usage. (cost for the core network can be similar in either case).

    One wonders where Relish set the limit relative to the current UK usage per (wired) broadband sub of ~ 150 GB/Month.

  2. Ultraspeedy says:

    More info regarding MarkJs item about ASA rules…
    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/new/complain/useful_consumer_rules_and_laws.php#2

    “In fairness it is still very challenging for smaller providers to offer “unlimited” packages and so we can understand why Relish might seek to impose a new rule, although they clearly need to be clarify precisely what constitutes excessive usage.”

    Better and even more fair don’t lie in the first place about usage.

  3. Alloneword says:

    Well i am one relish customer and have contacted there great support team and have been advised it is because of a single person using too much data and they are trying to ID who that person is, yea something went wrong in translation i think.
    Anyway I’m supposed to be getting a phone call on Wednesday telling me figure of how much is too much, not holding out much hope to be honest.

    1. Chris P says:

      How is the service in general, any good?

    2. Mike says:

      Do you know what your usage has been? It would be interesting to know what Relish consider too much.

  4. This is a very interesting debate as to what is fair usage. We recently discussed introducing 500GB/month fair use cap on our lower tarifs (sub30Mbps). The average customer has no real idea of how much data they do or do not consume during a month. We have examples of usage at 1.5TB but then the majority are well within the 500GB level. The problem is that as soon as you suggest a fair use cap the majority of customers (regardless of their actual use) consider it to be ‘unfair’.

    1. Billy says:

      A capped service is getting what you pay for and can’t really be unfair.
      An unlimited service that is capped or has a vague AUP applied is where the unfairness creeps in.

    2. Ultraspeedy says:

      As Billy states, a capped data is not the problem, you know what you are paying and choose to pay for that amount of data. Selling something and calling it unlimited is an issues though as you are no longer providing what you promised IF you call say your product is “unlimited” data.

      The amount of data someone uses or does not use on an “unlimited” product should not be a concern in the first place if you sold them an “unlimited” product. It boils down to….

      If you can not provide “unlimted” data do not pretend you can.

    3. Web Dude says:

      Three decided to scrap their “One Plan” (which was unlimited data, unlimited tethering, with generous numbers of minutes {+ separate minutes limit for 3-to-3 use – I think 2000 mobile and landline, 3000 for 3-to-3 but just going from memory } and 5000 SMS a month (for just £15).

      I suspect that their decision not to just ‘restrict’ or place some AUP in place, but scrap all those accounts, was a hardline method of dealing with it. I suspect they will handle ‘heavy’ Relish users with the same degree of flexibility (ie none – my sister was a light user, hardly any data, a few dozen texts and calls a month, and paying £20 – but still her One Plan was cancelled)

  5. Mike says:

    This underlines the problem faced with “wrieless broadband” and demonstrates why this technology shouldn’t be used to meet USO commitments – there simply isn’t enough bandwidth available when using air as a transmission medium.

    Sure, we may be able to roll out connections with high peak speeds (eg 200Mbps on LTE) to lots of users, but if the monthly usage has to be curtailed is a 200Mbps limited connection really as useful as an unlimited landline connection that would perform around the proposed 30Mbps USO?

    1. Ethel Prunehat says:

      Hmm. The logical conclusion to this argument would be that mobile data as a mass-market product can’t work or shouldn’t exist, and I don’t think that’s true.

      You can’t write off an entire class of access technology, whether it’s fibre, copper or wireless. As with the other two, usable throughput of a wireless connection will increase with processing power and modulation scheme improvements.

    2. Ultraspeedy says:

      Speed of the product would make little difference. People that that run up hundreds of Gigabytes or even Terabytes still will at 30Mb, they would just have to leave the computer on longer than they do currently.

      To do 500GB @ 30Mbps assuming its all loaded into a download/upload manager and running at the full 30Mbps would only take the person 1 day, 15 hours, 46 minutes and 5.58 seconds. To reach 500GB.

      This is an old problem and not something Relish, or any other ISP that ha asimilar plans will win if they are trying to suggest their product is “unlimited” when it is not and threatening people with cryptic (IE wont say) figures on data use.

      We have been here before and a quick search through ISPReview finds this….

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/06/asa-uk-slaps-isp-be-broadband-for-unlimited-downloads-claim.html

      Good luck Relish, or any other that tries similar games. Perhaps organisations should think about what you were selling to begin with rather than blame the customers.

    3. Mike says:

      “The logical conclusion to this argument would be that mobile data as a mass-market product can’t work or shouldn’t exist”

      No that isn’t the logical conclusion at all. My point was in the context of using it as the primary connection for a household, not as supplementary data for a mobile device where most people only use around 5GB according to Three.

      “As with the other two, usable throughput of a wireless connection will increase with processing power and modulation scheme improvements.”

      Right now we don’t have the technology to deliver a useful replacement for fixed-line connection. Thinking about the future is pointless when the USO should be being rolled out now.

  6. Alloneword says:

    Chris P:
    As a rule “The service is good” and i’m happy with it but that has to be taken from my starting point which was 3mbit, and no we have no other options open to us, however from about 4-10pm is slows down to less then 3mbit but i can live with that as i’m not normally online at that time, i do most of my downloads early hours if i can as i can get 30mbits from here, that is the service, but customer service is a whole new world of pain, it’s makes sky tv look amazing.

    Mike:
    I have only been with them a few months and Feb was just shy of 400GB, Mar was 170GB and this month is a bit more…. ok if i must 1740GB, i have to admit i am streaming everything in HD and even 4k if i can get away with it

    Still waiting for “Bernie” @ Relish to come back to me with a number but nothing so far

  7. Alloneword says:

    Well just been told they have number in mind which will push over what they are happy with you using but will not tell us, and i have screen grabs if they say i’m telling pork pies, chat was funny to be honest

    1. Ultraspeedy says:

      Let me guess, when you asked direct for a GB figure you got responses like…

      “It depends on if you use is affecting others”
      “It will vary according to network load”
      “There is no figure you are still unlimited unless you affect the network”

      etc, etc along with other try to worm their way out of telling you what you are allowed BS blubber.

      All old news same as what happened with BE……… Next step sooner or later when they weewee off the wrong customer will be the ASA and potentially worse.

      Why do these companies never learn until they are beehatch slapped by powers-that-be???

  8. Alloneword says:

    I far from an intelligent guy but it was funny watching them dig a hole for themselves and when it comes out Relish will just use the same old BS excuse “Misunderstanding” my backside, I have wrote to someone at their PR company W Communications I think it was asking for some words of wisdom and we will have to see what gives in the next day or so but I won’t leave without being a major pain in their backside, after all I thought I had found a half decent ISP (speed wise) however what is the point to having 30mbits when 500mb a day is your limit, oh well back to the good old days of iplayer is SD 🙁
    Progress

    1. Ultraspeedy says:

      If they cut you off report their “Unlimited” lies to the ASA just like what users did with BE.

  9. Alloneword says:

    I have contacted ASA already, just waiting for them to come back to me

  10. Scott says:

    Im just so shocked after calling there support that all units have default password of user user that cannot be changed..

    I work in security industry this is a joke that an ISP locks username to user user.

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