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UK Consumers Pay for Unnecessary Unlimited Broadband ISP Deals

Posted: 27th Jan, 2010 By: MarkJ
broadband statisticsNew research from BroadbandChoices has suggested that many UK consumers who pay extra for broadband ISP packages, specifically those touting "unlimited" usage allowances, may be doing so unnecessarily. The survey of 1400 broadband users revealed that over half pay for an "unlimited" deal and yet a similar figure of 53% downloaded just 10GB (GigaByte's) or less per month.

In addition nearly three quarters (74%) downloaded 20GB or less and the vast majority of broadband users spend under 2 hours a week on heavy usage activities, such as downloading music; watching video clips; or watching and downloading TV programmes and movies.
Percentage of respondents that spend =<2hrs per week on each of the following:
79.4% - Listen to/download music online
79.2% - Watch video clips online (eg YouTube)
78.7% - Watch/download TV programmes online (eg iPlayer; 4oD)
84.7% - Watch/download movies online
Sadly the survey did not appear to ask how many consumers were unaware of their usage levels, which we suspect would be rather high given the relative ambiguity of GigaByte figures and general lack of knowledge surrounding technical jargon.

It's quite easy to understand why somebody might choose an "unlimited" package, such as to avoid the uncertainty of usage restricts, a lack of knowledge or the desire to maintain flexibility. Never the less it's interesting, if not surprising, to see that the majority could live without one and probably save money by doing so.

In most cases, such as between the BT Total Broadband Option 1 (10GB) and Option 3 ("Unlimited") packages, the price difference is approximately £10. It’s also worth bearing in mind that many "unlimited" services come with strings attached; vague restrictions (Fair Usage Policy) against P2P, streaming video services, gaming or excessive downloading in general.

Many believe that the use of "unlimited" terminology in promotions and package details is inherently misleading, although some services (e.g. Sky Broadband Unlimited, Virgin Media 50Mbps etc.) do claim to offer a truly unrestricted package. Consumers should remember that "unlimited" is really about raw 24/7 internet access and is not a reference to performance or quality.
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