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Tiscali another provider with a capped service
Monday 07 February 2005 18:10:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Tiscali is an ISP that seems to surface in the news every now and then for all the wrong reasons. The latest reason is a change to the terms and conditions for the service, and the issuing of what users are referring to as 'clause 5.9' letters, effectively booting customers off the service.

Tiscali have in the past experimented with various systems to manage fair usage on their network, and at times the support staff have denied this. In fact there are times when the stories coming out of the call centre seem to be at odds with explanations from Tiscali management. The latest issue revolves around a change made to the terms and conditions on 5th January 2005, as can be seen below:

Taken from here, T&Cs for users signing up prior to 05/01/05 are here.

This shows section 8.4 which describes the current fair usage policy, which gives a figure of 30GB of traffic (a combined figure from upstream and downstream) in a month as the point at which Tiscali may limit the speed of your connection, or actually terminate your services contract. This limit is not publicised clearly on the Tiscali website, which until recently boasted of the unlimited nature of its products. Or at least not in a way that people looking for free modems and speed of service would readily notice. Their product with a 2GB limit is clearly labeled, so we wonder why not the others.

A 30GB limit is likely to be enough for the vast majority of broadband users. Though with the increase in use of digital photography and online video conferencing people are using more their connections more and more. Perhaps the time has come for Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority to insist that where a provider has a cap hidden in the depths of the terms and conditions that it is clearly highlighted on the companies advertising and website. Various TV and press adverts extol the virtues of watching video or listening to music online, but imagine a household where 2 or 3 people use the computer, what would seem relatively reasonable usage by each of these people could tip them over the Tiscali limits. We feel that there needs to be some degree of fair usage to stop the few users who insist of deliberately utilising their connection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as if they lived in a data centre, but ISPs need to do this in a clear and open way. One wonders if this problem is unique to the UK, since one hears little of this from other countries.

Users of the Tiscali service are not happy of course, people who signed up before the new terms and conditions appear to be still getting action taken against them based on clause 5.9 which is designed to protect network integrity. One big downside with Tiscali, is that there is no simple migration path away from the ISP, since single user DataStream to IPStream migrations are not available just yet We have also seen a fair number of posts from people who have tried to leave Tiscali, and even this has not been a smooth process with the line left marked as in use by Tiscali.

Why Tiscali are carrying out this culling of its heavier users is unclear. They are not going to be impacted by the BT Wholesale UBC and CBC BT Central products, since Tiscali use the BT Datastream products for most customers, and this is totally unmetered between the exchange and provider. Though if you can clear your network of the heavier users, you may be able to provision the connections with smaller amounts of bandwidth, or put off upgrading them, in an attempt to keep costs down. One thing often overlooked is that for unmetered networks the key point is the behaviour at peak times, and removing the heavy users may have very little impact on the peak usage times. Why? Because it is very likely the lighter users will use the connection at similar times of week.

For a much longer, but worth reading summary of the state of service on Tiscali Broadband visit here. That article illustrates nicely that something that is widely advertised is not necessarily the best product on the market. It is time that ISPs paid more attention to retaining existing customers, than attracting new victims.

Some of our previous Tiscali news items are:

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