Ace Internet featured in our news last week when it introduced traffic management on its ADSL service. The surprise implementation of this was on a Friday, with users only getting the situation confirmed on the Monday. Now the provider and its supplier Mistral are to implement a fair use policy. The full policy can be read on their website.
This policy revolves around controlling peer to peer (P2P) and Usenet downloads, with a basic allowance of 3.5GB of this traffic in any 24 hour period, and once that value is exceeded the P2P traffic will still download but at a higher contention level - which means it will be slower. On other traffic types there are no limits, but Ace are reserving the right to get in touch if they find your overall usage is having a negative impact on other users.
Service providers changing policies is never popular with the customers, and while the initial announcements create a lot of debate and anger, people need to look at their own usage and decide on how it will affect them, rather than rely on what others say. One problem for those wanting to move provider is understanding the complexities of all the various usage policies that exist, there are some that sound very good, but the actual implementation can be harsher than expected. Another problem in judging providers is that as people join the actual experience can alter if a higher than normal amount of high usage users join. So if leaving a provider because of high usage, take your time to do some reading, and a general rule is that the higher priced packages will be more relaxed in how you can use the connection.
The number of broadband packages with no cap or published fair use policy is something like 25% according to OECD research. This is as much a result of the ever decreasing retail prices, while wholesale prices have largely remained unchanged for two years, as it is with heavy usage patterns of a small proportion of users. 2004 saw the announcement of Capacity Based Charging (CBC) by BT Wholesale, which saw the price of a Home 2000 (2Mbps) connection change from £38 to £8.40 plus whatever proportion of the BT Central rental the ISP wanted to assign to this user. Under the standard pricing policy, which was subject to the Ofcom Margin Squeeze Test, the current 8Mbps products would have had a wholesale price of around £85, which once VAT and ISP margins are added would be well over £100 a month. Looking at the current up to 8Mbps consumer pricing of £15 to £35 you can see how CBC has changed the market, and made faster speeds available to the consumer. The question now is whether BT Wholesale will adjust its BT Central pricing to allow providers to increase usage allowances.
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