Skip Navigation

Poll: Usage allowances and user awareness
Thursday 13 December 2007 07:28:03 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Canadian ISP Rogers has caused controversy by injecting message into web pages their users view to inform them that they have exceeded the usage cap. A blogger has posted a screenshot of a Google homepage with a message from Rogers Yahoo broadband asking the user to acknowledge they are aware that they are going to be charged for additional use. suggests that this is likely to spark a renewed debate about net neutrality legislation.

Tell us what you think.


Posted by brightd over 9 years ago
I selected what I believe to be the most suitable method in the poll but think that more than 1 of the methods suggested would be suitable.
Posted by ribbotson over 9 years ago
None of the above, unless by prior arrangement. Users should be able to browse to a WEB page that reports their usage and maybe offers the option to activate one or more of the above notification procedures.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
Rather than injecting messages into a web page I would prefer to see the end user diverted to a page telling them they're going to go over a limit and asking for agreement to proceed.

For notification purposes email or text with the user required to keep the contact address/number current. It needs to be pushed at the user or they'll bleat that they didn't know.
Posted by whatever2 over 9 years ago
i think it's a good much of a net neutrality arguement it is i don't much do advertisers have something to the same degree when you scan your mouse over a story and ad bubbles pop up everywhere?

here's an idea, go to another ISP that doesn't...or don't go silly with your limit and voila, neutral net.
Posted by mixt over 9 years ago
I presume that the bytes/traffic taken to display this message also count towards your usage? I know it's not much, but a far better way is to just have warnings sent via emails and then terminate/redirect the user to a page that allows them to purchase more etc once they reach their limit. Zen Internet do exactly this, and it works brilliantly.
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
When considering this you need to avoid the issue of 'should there even be allowances' otherwise you're bound to dislike the idea.

But if my ISP had an allowance system (BeThere doesn't) then this would seem like a good solution. It won't affect most people and those it does affect will find it harder to ignore than an email.
Posted by nettech over 9 years ago
You need to add an option that says "User can choose one or more of these methods from the preferences page in his/her control panel". Regardless, all ISPs should allow the user to view their usage, not all do. freedom2surf never got their usage stats working properly, but at least they had the decency not to charge if you went over.
Posted by eurobear over 9 years ago
Definately think, where an ISP has a usage limit or FUP on a customer product then, there should be the facility to log in to a web page to check usage so far in the assessment period, i.e. how much have I used so far this month.

I'd say the reason ISPs are avoiding doing this is because many customers will be paying for more than they need and will suddenly be able to clearly see this.

Definately way past time OFCOM pushed for this.
Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
How about the unusual concept that the users accept some responsibility of usage?
My ISP members area has a daily meter running of usage used and the free usage 1:00am to 6:00am. I keep track myself. Pressure your ISP for the same service or switch.
end of problem.
Posted by adamtemp over 9 years ago
My ISP has a page in my account area that shows monthly usage ( and historic) and has the option to send emails if approaching your limit.
Posted by keith_thfc over 9 years ago
I'd like to see this idea extended further so that ISP's are forced to confirm the traffic shaping speeds in place at a particular time.

If they were forced to come clean like this about the real speeds their money is paying for it would certainly made users think twice about signing up.
Posted by meldrew over 9 years ago
Can't fault Plusnet on this. I start with 2Mb paid in advance and they charge me up to a fixed limit if I go over. Daily stats on web page too. The useful thing about a limit is that it encorages one to get a life away from the computer!
Posted by carpet over 9 years ago
I can see why they've done it, and at least you can't complain about being unaware of reaching your limit, though I do think it should be opt-in rather than opt-out, and rather redirect to another page than inject content into the current one.
@ mixt - emails still eat up bandwidth so sending the notification on screen or via mail doesn't really make much difference does it?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
I actually voted by letter, and i think the letter should be sent when you get close to your limit rather than actually already reached it. The other methods that could be used but the reasons i did not vote are...

by e-mail... Er Sounds good but as above mentioned to get that email wouldnt you have to go over your cap if its been reached already??
by telephone call... Again pointless, some ISPs will not discuss an account with anyone but the user the account name is in, most people work in this day and age so that wont work. (continued..)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
by text message (sms)... Unreliable, most marketing SMS messages to my mobile are blocked so I personally would probably never get it.
The other methods of by injecting messages into webpages and no need to inform user are IMO sly ways (not enough room to explain fully why) to catch people and carry on making money.
Posted by xela over 9 years ago
I don't think home users should be able to go over their usage limit and into PAYG territory without explicitly agreeing to it. I would think the most sensible way of doing that was by redirecting users to a webpage explaining the situation.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"I don't think home users should be able to go over their usage limit and into PAYG territory without explicitly agreeing to it. I would think the most sensible way of doing that was by redirecting users to a webpage explaining the situation."
I think Zen (or if its not zen i appologise) do something like this here in the UK already :)
Posted by billford over 9 years ago
My ISP sends me an email if my "extrapolated" usage would put me over my limit by the end of the month. If I know it's down to a big one-off d/l I can ignore it, otherwise it's up to me to review my usage pattern.
Posted by kamelion over 9 years ago
A letter would take too long and would add to the cost. With all the antiscript and popup blocking software most browsers seem to contain (unless you are using IE of course) would an injection get through?

With a lot of ISPs not actually defining what is "fair use" monitoring your own usage would be futile.

Redirecting to a page would be the easiest and most effective way.
Posted by g-bhxu over 9 years ago
First, all ISPs would need to be up front with anything they use that effects useage of the internet. e.g. FUPs and traffic shaping.

Each of the methods of notification given have faults

email - no doubt sent to the email address that your ISPs issues to the user when they join up that isn't used by the user becuase they've got their own domain name or one of the many free email accounts.

telephone - as has been said most ISPs won't talk to anyone but the account holder due to the Data Protection Act

Posted by g-bhxu over 9 years ago
Letter - How many items of mail do Royal Mail lose in a year?

Text - Don't always get through immediately of sometimes not at all.

Injecting onto web pages - Could be seem as breeching The Human Right To Privacy.

I would prefer some sort of broswer add-on that would redirect you to a useage warning page once you get near the limit.

However, none of this would apply to me because I'm with probably one of the last remaining truely unlimited ISPs.

Posted by c_j_ over 9 years ago
Metronet and Plusnet have had metered tariffs which are openly priced and easy-access metering. Both could redirect any browsing to a "you're over your limit" (or even a "you've got a virus") page (as mentioned by xela, but *not* in the ballot?).

Pipex tried a metered tariff with speed limits once you went over, but their metering never worked!

As BillFord notes, there are other ISPs with sensible approaches to usage monitoring.

Sadly the smaller sensible ISPs are outweighed by cowboys with hidden caps and policies (eg look who's "free" broadband ads the ASA finally ruled against).
Posted by ceedee over 9 years ago
I don't understand what's so difficult with using DU Meter or one of the other bandwidth meter apps?
Maybe ISPs ought to offer a free version with every limited package?
Posted by c_j_ over 9 years ago
"I don't understand what's so difficult with using DU Meter "

Does DUmeter work on (or count the WAN-only traffic from) a 2nd PC, a LAN-connected games box, a PDA, a VoIP box, WiFi-capable cellphone, BT Vision box, Slingbox, etc etc. See the problem now?

What's so difficult with ISPs telling their paying customers (even CPW's free punters are paying) how much they've downloaded and uploaded? The ISP kit knows. Unless you're as unlucky as Pipex were, it shouldn't be impossible ;)
Posted by zenops over 9 years ago
Re - Zen Internet!

Here's the details for how our customers get usage increase above their allowance:



Posted by weegiegeek over 9 years ago
a small % of my traffic is on port 80. I can go without opening firefox for days. Web page injection would be useless for me.

Customers should be able to access their wan usage statistics at any time from a web control panel, and limits should be clearly stated, even if they're "soft" limits.
Posted by billford over 9 years ago
I should have added- my ISP also provides a page where I can see my total usage for the month so far, extrapolated usage, a daily breakdown, and historical usage data.
Posted by johnn over 9 years ago
Newnet send me an email and that's fine for me.
The last thing I want to see is messages plastered all over web pages that I am browsing that I am approaching my limit
Posted by lierobs over 9 years ago
Demon internet notify you by e-mail to tell you how close you are to your 50GB limit once you reach 45GB. This method works perfectly so e-mail got my vote.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
I think the most sensible point to make here (unless someone disagrees and i suspect someone will lol) is that whatever method is used they should notify you BEFORE (just prior) you reach the actual limit.
Posted by mixt over 9 years ago
@ carpet - emails do still eat up bandwidth, yes, but I still find the whole concept of injecting and altering the HTML of a viewable page, against someone's will, rather intrusive and wrong. In my opinion, Zen have the best policy. Simply show a page which informs the customer when they have reached their limit (and have to top up your bandwidth). Until then, your connection is left perfectly free from transparent port forwarding and any data injection.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote" Zen have the best policy. Simply show a page which informs the customer when they have reached their limit (and have to top up your bandwidth)."

I thought it was zen that did something like that :) thanks for the confirmation :)
Posted by zenops over 9 years ago
I posted the links to what we do at Zen a few posts further up for anyone who wants to see what they get!

Posted by petrlondon over 9 years ago
A while ago newsagents were placing inserts into newspapers. The courts said this infringed the copyright of the publisher who compiled the product.

An ISP, post or phone service just conveys messages - letters, calls, texts, webpages, emails.

Would we accept audible warnings about late payment from a phone company in a call to a Doctor? No.

Telecom are welcome to phone me and discuss things. Royal Mail can deliver items through my front door, and my ISP already knows my email, phone no, and physical address. They don't need to hijack someone else's content.
Posted by benfield over 9 years ago
Pipex sent me a email when I reached 70% - would be nice if they had given more details or better still to be able to view my usage on their site
Posted by davidinnotts over 9 years ago
Plusnet have a page which shows you your usage over a period as well as your current spend. They've had this since shortly after I joined them, way before broadband. Helps with planning. They also email when you have topped the limit, saying that they have added X to your bill, so you know.
Posted by nettech over 9 years ago
Do we get to see the results of the poll?
Posted by david-godfrey3 over 9 years ago
ISPs should tell the truth
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.