It seems that when O2 says “unlimited” downloads through their broadband services, they actually mean “unlimited” with an O2 twist.
ISPreview has reported that O2 has been writing to heavy downloaders since March, telling them to cut down on their downloading activities or risk being disconnected within 30 days. According to the updated O2 traffic management page, “you’ll be okay” as long as you limit your downloading activity to the prescribed 10GB a month.
The timing of the ISPreview has been unfortunate for O2, just as it is trying to build up momentum through its “nobbling broadband niggles” advertising campaign. Nobbling with general definition of “unlimited” can be somewhat of a niggle for most.
O2 claims that the new traffic management policy is indented to improve the quality of service for the majority of its Home Access customers, customers whose connections are not unbundled from BT equipment at the local exchange. The policy also restricts non-bundled packages’ P2P and newsgroup traffic to just 50Kbps at the peak “afternoon and evening” hours, allegedly in an attempt to encourage users to use peer to peer and newsgroup services at a time when there is less traffic.
Despite O2’s vehement claims of fair usage and better traffic management, some have pointed at more sinister motivations behind O2’s applying the squeeze. All providers offering unbundled connections have to make ongoing payments to BT, instead of a one-off cost for installing their gear. The practice is prevalent at rural exchanges, where the potential commercial benefits cannot justify the unbundling cost.
However, this means that providers will either have to take carry the additional financial burden themselves, or resort to technical restrictions and download limits. Arguably, O2 has chosen the latter option.
O2’s new policy does not apply to unbundled and Be Broadband customers, who use the same network as the less fortunate ones.
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