AUP/FUP/SUP are all acronyms that are now part of the UK's broadband language set, for those that do not know them, AUP is Acceptable Usage Policy, FUP - Fair Usage Policy and SUP - Sustainable
Usage Policy. At the end of the day as far as a lot of end-users are concerned they all amount to the same thing, a system where by a service provider can take action against users who it feels
use too much capacity. Are they legal? Well one assumes each provider has taken good legal advice before implementing a policy, but are they always fair? That is what is causing a lot of noise on
our forums, and other sites.
Pipex is the latest service provider to send an email out to a fairly small group of users (thought to be under 1% of the user base), this email is reproduced below, so that those not affected
yet, can have a read.
Dear PIPEX Customer,
On Friday the 1st of July we announced important amendments to our broadband Terms and Conditions (Ts & Cs) and broadband Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). As you may be aware
broadband is a contended service i.e. a shared service. The amendments are necessary to help us meet the challenge of managing our network during the busiest periods and to provide a
fair service. PIPEX has published a statement together with some detailed FAQs explaining these changes. You can view them online at:
Rather than imposing caps on all our services, as some other ISPs have elected to do, PIPEX is seeking to meet the challenge of providing a fair service during peak periods, by
traffic managing the tiny minority of customers who have the greatest detrimental effect on other users of the network. Traffic management is being rolled out gradually across our
network. It involves careful assessment of each customer’s usage pattern to identify those whose connections require management during busy periods. Currently we estimate less
than 99.3% of our customer base will not need their connection traffic managed.
The reason why we are contacting you is that our network analysis shows that your current usage requires traffic management during our busiest periods, which as a guide run from 6pm
to midnight seven days a week. This means you are currently a candidate for traffic management. However, we are not traffic managing your connection at the moment, so please read
TWO WEEKS TO ADJUST…
PIPEX would like to retain you as a customer, so we are giving you a two week opportunity to adapt your usage pattern to the shared nature of ADSL broadband. Adapting is very
If you routinely transfer large amounts of data you can minimise the impact of this on other customers by making one very simple change to the way you use your computer. Simply,
schedule prolonged, large scale downloading activity to off-peak hours, when other customers are less likely to be using the network. This especially applies when making several
simultaneous large downloads.
Currently the best time to schedule these types of downloads is between midnight and 6am, 7 days a week.
By scheduling your prolonged, large scale downloading activity during these periods you can still transfer very large amounts of data, but in a way that doesn't adversely affect other
customers sharing the network.
AFTER TWO WEEKS…
We will analyse your usage for the two weeks after you receive this e-mail. If results show that you are no longer impacting other customers during peak periods, we will not need to
traffic manage your connection. If on the other hand, your usage pattern means traffic management is still required it will be applied to your connection. Naturally we will contact
you by e-mail should this be the case.
It is important to point out that PIPEX is not forbidding or blocking anyone from downloading during peak periods. If you want to continue making large scale, prolonged downloads
during peak hours, you are of course free to do so. However, this may mean that PIPEX has to manage your connection during these times in the interest of providing a fair
WHAT OPTIONS DO I HAVE?
We would very much like you to choose to cooperate with us in delivering a fair service on our network. We feel this is the best option. That way you retain a PIPEX service where you
can still transfer a very large amount of data but other customers can also use the network during our peak periods.
You can also choose to regrade to the PIPEX Start package, as this service is capped, it is not currently subject to traffic management measures.
If you require the ability to download unusually large quantities of data at anytime PIPEX is keen to work with you to find a service more appropriate for your needs - for example you
may require a business service.
If you are unhappy with the changes to the Terms and Conditions of your service, then you can choose to migrate to another ISP or cancel your PIPEX service. However, if you have been
with PIPEX for less than a year a cancellation charge may apply.
Copy of letter from Pipex Customer Service
We have previously mentioned the changes in the Terms and Conditions for Pipex on 3rd July 2005 and 27th July 2005. There still is no firm set of figures in terms of who is considered a heavy user, and from the recent
email the focus appears to be on the peak time use by people, which may see people who turn their computer off when not at home or asleep actually hit by this AUP since most people will be using
the service at peak time - hence why it is peak time.
The action after the two week probation period is for users to be Traffic Managed, which in itself need not be a bad thing, some service providers user traffic management to ensure things like
streaming video/audio and gaming work reasonably during the peak periods. In the case of Pipex and other providers with recently introduced AUP/FUP/SUP type policies, traffic management is being
used as a way of imposing contention on some groups of users. How harsh this is, will vary greatly from ISP to ISP, and as yet we do not know what the effects will be for Pipex users affected.
For those Pipex customers who choose to leave due to this policy, they need to remember that the free activation is actually only free if you stay with the provider for a 12 month period. Those
leaving inside the first 12 months are expected to pay back the fee, and similarly for those migrating we believe.
Advertising of services that have a usage policy in place is interesting, we are seeing some adverts which have clear GigaByte limits, and others with the word unlimited centre
screen/page, but then a subtitle indicating that there is a Fair Use Policy too. Perhaps it is time for Ofcom and bodies like the Advertising Standards Authority to provide some guidelines.