UK ISPs - when will they charge by bandwidth usage?

CortexRock

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 3, 2006
413
0
Canterbury, England
I'm on an 'up to' 8 megabit ADSL broadband service with Demon Internet here in the UK. Speed tests reveal that on average I'm only getting a 3.3 megabit connection, yet initial tests suggested I should be able to acheive around 5.5mb/s. This isn't such a big deal though, as with a 5.5 connection I'd be burning through my 'fair use' bandwidth allocation even faster!

I'm a heavy bandwidth user :D, no doubt about it and I wonder if UK ISPs will eventually move back to 'pay per gigabyte' model, rather than advertising their service as 'unlimited' then capping the monthly allowance.

I know some ISPs offer a set fee for X gigabytes, plus an amount per GB over that - can anyone recommend a UK company that offers this service?
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,922
168
Zen Internet do on their home services... I have a set amount each month, think it's 2gb, and pay about a £1.30 or so (?) for each extra Gb. I can top up this extra allowance at anytime to any quantity and the reserve is carried over each month.

Best UK ISP I've ever used and I've been through BT (a long time ago) and then Tiscali, who the word 'suck' was invented for.
 

Hydramus

macrumors member
Jun 30, 2007
80
0
PlusNet do this as well. I pay £19.99 a month for "up to 8 megabit" and you get unlimited off peak usage, which is between midnight to 4pm, and 20gb on-peak usage, 4pm to midnight. If you know you are gonna be going over you can top up your allowance for 75p per gb beforehand or you can just pay as you go over for £1 per gb.
 

Brize

macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2004
732
0
Europe
I'm also with Zen, on their 'Active' service. Cost is £25 per month, which includes 20GB of download bandwidth; each additional GB is £1.49. They also have a 'Pro' package for £35, which increases the basic download allowance to 50GB. I've been with Zen for about eighteen months now and the service has always been exemplary.

More here:

http://www.zen.co.uk/Broadband/athome.aspx
 

miniConvert

macrumors 68040
They have a 1 month contract period, try find that elsewhere!
A lot of UK ADSL providers are only on 30 day terms, unless you want free routers etc.

ISP's will, undoubtedly, try and find ways to charge more for the services they are offering which have become cheaper and cheaper over the last few years. It's not out of spite, they have genuine issues of capacity.

I'm not a fan of paying for the exact amount of data used, however. Fair-use caps are better, provided you can find one that has a high enough cap at a low enough price. I still prefer unlimited connections, and currently have such connections from Nildram and Eclipse Internet.

Quite an exciting development for users that consume less than a few gigs of data per month is mobile 3G broadband from the likes of Vodafone and T-Mobile. Both offer a USB modem that plugs in to pretty much anything and goes with you anywhere. Draytek has a router that transforms the USB modem into a shareable Internet connection. Currently you'll get up to 1.8mbps from such a link, but upgrades are already under way to make that 3mbps+.

The mobile operators are worthy of a mention here because, for the last few years, they have almost exclusively charged per-byte of data transferred. 'Fair use' caps are a recent evolution that finally allows for mobile data usage without the fear of mega bills.

Customers, generally, don't like the pay-for-what-you-use model. They, generally, like to know they've paid their fees and that they're set in stone. A letter or call from the ISP is fine - a warning wont cost them any money - and even if they will only use a fraction of the fair usage cap in real life it's just knowing that there is a limit on how much they'll pay. So, I can see a future of ISP's charging different amounts for different levels of usage, but doing so in terms of fair usage caps and not raw data use. A 'limitless ceiling' of charges when there are viruses and wotnot out there ready to saturate your connection without your interaction would just be insane.
 

weckart

macrumors 601
Nov 7, 2004
4,747
1,786
There are other ways to discourage bandwidth hogging.

I am on cable, which in the UK now means Virginmedia. My plan is 20Mb unlimited, the terms of which changed since the Virgin takeover of NTL/Telewest.

Now if I download more than 3GB in any 24hr period, my speed drops to a quarter for a 4hour sinbin period before being restored to its former glory.

Since Virgin is primarily a media company and is hawking all of its other products via the Broadband route, the paltry limits (about 350Mb for those on the 2Mb plan) have gone down like a cup of cold sick. Try running Joost or the like, for instance.

Virgin is, from what I can gather, trialling 50Mb and in some areas 100Mb download speed services for the next speed bump due, which is pointless with these low caps.
 

Peterkro

macrumors 68020
Aug 17, 2004
2,149
1,380
Communard de Londres,Tiocfaidh ár lá
The two recommendations I made up there ^^^ are for heavy users i.e. 100's of gigs a month.I will not use any ISP that has a usage limit or use's traffic shaping.I recently left Pipex after many years because of their half-witted traffic shaping.
 

Mac-Addict

macrumors 65816
Aug 30, 2006
1,421
2
London
With Tiscali Im not allowed to download more than 2gb between 3pm and 1am otherwise I will be moved to their high usage line which is apparently slow... but due to UK phone lines being so crappy I get 4mb even though I am paying for 8mb.
 

CortexRock

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 3, 2006
413
0
Canterbury, England
It's not out of spite, they have genuine issues of capacity.
And genuine issues of trying recoup the billions they rushed to spend on buying up 3G frequencies when the government auctioned them off, only to find that most people aren't interested in 3G on a mobile phone? :rolleyes:

Mobile Phone Salesman said:
Would you like to watch TV clips on your mobile?
Me said:
Why would I want to do that? I have a TV. That's like asking if I want to take a pee in my tumble dryer!
The thing that really irritates me is, if you're with an ISP that uses BT's equipment and lines, you're already paying for that once in the shape of your phone bill's line rental. Somehow they've figured out how to charge us for the same bit of copper wire twice!

Offering faster and faster connection speeds while simultaneously crippling people's ability to get the most out of those speeds seems to be par for the course at the moment - which IMHO sucks quite a lot. :D
 

bingefeller

macrumors 6502a
Jun 25, 2007
519
15
Northern Ireland
I use BT Total Broadband Option 3 and get unlimited bandwidth. It costs £24.99 a month I think. BT used to make you pay if you went above your limit but I think that unlimited bandwidth is the way forward.
 

telecomm

macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2003
1,371
8
Rome
I use BT Total Broadband Option 3 and get unlimited bandwidth. It costs £24.99 a month I think. BT used to make you pay if you went above your limit but I think that unlimited bandwidth is the way forward.
Same here. A few headaches getting set up, but once things were and running it's been good. Speeds in excess of 5 Mbps down, 380 or so up. They throttle speeds for all but http during the evenings, but otherwise speeds are good.
 

CortexRock

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 3, 2006
413
0
Canterbury, England
Oxford English Dictionary said:
unlimited

• {adjective} not limited or restricted; infinite.
Most UK ISPs said:
unlimited

• {adjective} only unlimited in that we say unlimited to sucker people into thinking their broadband is unlimited, but is actually dependent on our Acceptable Usage Policy, which goes on to explain exactly how limited 'unlimited' actually is.
An inconvenient truth, as Mr Gore might put it. :(
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
Same here. A few headaches getting set up, but once things were and running it's been good. Speeds in excess of 5 Mbps down, 380 or so up. They throttle speeds for all but html during the evenings, but otherwise speeds are good.
Do they? Would things like YouTube be ok?
 

telecomm

macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2003
1,371
8
Rome
Do they? Would things like YouTube be ok?
Hmm... not sure, don't use YouTube that much, but I'd expect there wouldn't be a problem with that... in the end, it's probably just torrents that are affected. Anyway, you can check ISPs here to see some info about bandwidth policies, etc.

http://www.azureuswiki.com/index.php/Bad_ISPs

Anyway, I haven't noticed any speed problems, except between about 4:30-5ish and late evening, and then only for torrents.
 

XIII

macrumors 68040
Aug 15, 2004
3,450
0
England
Hmm... not sure, don't use YouTube that much, but I'd expect there wouldn't be a problem with that... in the end, it's probably just torrents that are affected. Anyway, you can check ISPs here to see some info about bandwidth policies, etc.

http://www.azureuswiki.com/index.php/Bad_ISPs

Anyway, I haven't noticed any speed problems, except between about 4:30-5ish and late evening, and then only for torrents.
Actually, I don't know if it's just me, but I find from about 8 or 9pm onwards youtube can be slow to load videos for me. All other times it's fine.
Thanks guys.

I am currently with BT but on an old package. Only getting 1mb, but the 12 months long expired. It's meant to have a 15GB download limit, but BT just seem to ignore it.. I use about 80GB a month. I live a long way from the exchange, but BT reckon I can get 2mb if I upgrade to Total with them - but it means a new 12 month contract. My local exchange is also Be enabled.. Have been considering that as well.. But again, don't know how great the speed will be as I am right on the edge of the Broadband area - possibly only 2mb from Be as well.. Who knows.
 

Applespider

macrumors G4
I've been with Be for 18 months with no problems. I signed up when they first launched so get unlimited (no shaping) broadband for £20 a month. I connect at about 17-18MB so pretty speedy too. It's truly amazing watching Software Update download OS X updates in about 10 seconds at home :D