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Poll Results: Informing users about bandwidth limits
Thursday 20 December 2007 15:34:40 by John Hunt

Following our news item and poll last week about Canadian ISP Rogers, and their method of injecting messages into webpages to inform users that they are over their usage limits, the results from our users show a clear answer to what they believe the suitable solution:

How should ISPs inform their users about exceeding of inclusive bandwidth limits and being liable to additional costs?

Total votes: 3317

2447 votes (74%)

by e-mail

119 votes (4%)

by telephone call

200 votes (6%)

by letter

152 votes (5%)

by text message (sms)

309 votes (9%)

by injecting messages into webpages

90 votes (3%)

no need to inform user

Some comments from our users suggested that people shouldn't be allowed to go over their usage limits without agreeing to the extra payment that would be required. Others believed that people should be left to their own devices and monitor it themselves. This, however, can be less than straight forward when multiple computers or network devices are used in a network. Perhaps having multiple options available to the end user may be the best approach. The user could then choose what they feel is right for them, whether this be to implement a limit so no more data can be downloaded when they reach their usage limit, or one of a number of options for notification when you are approaching it.

Comments

Posted by Hysteria over 9 years ago
I'm surprised there wasn't more votes for being informed via messages on webpages, but I guess it depends how its implemented.
If they have an actual cap set that they've reached, then I think messages being displayed on webpages is a good idea. But if they have a pre-paid download limit, and they've reached it, they should just be notified by email and then its up to them if they continue using the internet because they'll be paying for the extra bandwidth.

I think in all cases that email should be used either on its own as the only method, or in addition to another method.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"The user could then choose what they feel is right for them, whether this be to implement a limit so no more data can be downloaded when they reach their usage limit, or one of a number of options for notification when you are approaching it."

A superb idea John Hunt :)
Biggest shock to me from this were 90 people actually said there is no need to inform the user... I can only assume they use their connections very lightly or just dont mind monthly bills with extra lumped on top.
Posted by jelv over 9 years ago
How many ISP's already email their users when they go over?

I'll start the list with Plusnet
Posted by billford over 9 years ago
IDNet email you if it looks as though you are likely to go over...
Posted by sebastianyoung over 9 years ago
IDNet do. On my first day with them, I downloaded a Linux distribution (which, obviously, I don't usually do - I'm generally quite a light user). They sent me an (automated, I think) email predicting my month's usage if I continued to download that amount every day, which would mean exceeding my limit.

Why don't all ISPs do this? Because they want you to exceed your limit so they can charge you more. :-p
Posted by groobs over 9 years ago
Zen Internet send out emails at 50%, 75% and 90% of download limit. Plus you can have a handy desktop widget/gadget that will tell you your current usage.

In addition, there's their portal site that can predict the day you'll run out based on your previous efforts in the month
Posted by radiomarko over 9 years ago
Predictably BT have no method available for monitoring whatsoever, they just cap heavily when you meet a level that is set dynamically. It is important that customers develop their clairvoyant powers as the provided router resets so often that you cant keep track of network useage easily. 8/
Posted by pje1979 over 9 years ago
Come on admit it, who voted 'by letter'! Why would anyone want to know they are about to exceed their download cap by letter?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Come on admit it, who voted 'by letter'! Why would anyone want to know they are about to exceed their download cap by letter?"

Seems quite a few would as it was the result in third place
Posted by pje1979 over 9 years ago
quote"Seems quite a few would as it was the result in third place"

Yes I know, very strange though, by the time you got your letter you would have already exceeded your download cap, it would cost your ISP the price of a stamp each time which would be passed on the the customer one way or another.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Yes I know, very strange though, by the time you got your letter you would have already exceeded your download cap"

The same could be said for the first place result of email, especially if you used a junk hotmail or similar account when you signed up which you dont check regular and thats the one the ISP chooses to email. As i mentioned and a couple of others did in the original poll story none of the methods are perfect.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
As of January Newnet send emails at various percentages once you reach 75% of your allowance. You also have a hard cap which you set yourself allowing an over-run on your allowance of 0-10xallowance.

At all times you can buy at the pre-pay rate even if you have already exceeded your allowance, and the prepay (if big enough)cancels the over-run. Or you can just let it go and pay a higher rate in arrears.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Completely slashing connections when you hit a certain point can have all sorts of undesireable effects (read, sooner or later: "sorry, was that an 911 VoIP call?") if you're using something which isn't a browser.

Slashing them down to 56k speed, now...
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
Well if you ignore 5 emails AND also set your OWN limit on the amount by which you can exceed your standard allowance before service stops (up to 10 times the allowance), AND don't monitor usage on the online control panel if you cannot get emails, AND don't buy extra allowance in advance AND don't realise you are grossly exceeding your allowance - then you are brain dead already.

Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
The Newnet hard cap has only just been introduced. Requested by users, (I'm not one of them), presumably to prevent kids bankrupting the family!

Relying on VoIP for 911? That's madness anyway. And what has it to do with UK ISPs anyway?
Posted by mixt over 9 years ago
@dawn - it would be madness to use a VoIP service on a metered/capped ISP (one that chops your connection) anyway wouldn't it? So you are best to find an unlimited/business grade provider in that instance.

@uniquename - I read somewhere that Ofcom(?) is passing new legislation making it compulsory for customers to be able to dial the emergency services on VoIP services supplied by an ISP. I think that's why it has something to do with UK ISPs and of course really does turn the tables on this whole "chop your connection when limit reached" malarkey.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Mixt... the average home user isn't going to spend for a business service just to use VoIP. Heck, some ISP's advertise VoIP usage on their homes lines.

Also, don't assume that the person monitoring the bandwidth is the same as everyone using the line.

And don't assume that the ISP's counting is anything like the users. One ISP I was with (now gone) consistant reported exactly double the usage my router recorded (and I downloaded a 10MB file..router said 10, ISP said 20...) on their web-page monitor
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"AND don't monitor usage on the online control panel if you cannot get emails, AND don't buy extra allowance in advance AND don't realise you are grossly exceeding your allowance - then you are brain dead already."
erm
1 checking the control panel itself must eat into your usage (even if say it was only 1kb)
2 why should you buy extra in advance, its the ISPs job to tell you when you need extra, not for you to be mystic meg and guess
(cont)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
3 grossly exceeding your limit... hmm so how you meant to know that on for example a pipex service with no online usage
4 Brain Dead... hmm maybe but in some cases i think the ISP itself and the systems in place are more brain dead.
Posted by ianbigg over 9 years ago
My ISP*s best limit is 5.7 this is due to the local BT loading from the automatic exchange locally, whowm I understand control the braodband speeds with their equipment either old or updated..... again with my ISP I do not have an overload situation, its an all in cost for phone calls all and every day, rental and broadband....cannot understand anyone not using a good ISP without first checking their ability to offer a sensible and acceptable package...am I allowed to give the name of my ISP ????
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
@CARPETBURN. Please read and digest before spouting twaddle based on omitting the preceding stuff that the "AND"s you quote attach to! If you think very carefully, and in your case slowly please, you will realise not being able to get emails would imply you are not personally able to access your email client. This would further imply that phone calls, letters, and even personal visits by your ISP to your address would not avail either.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
WRT "its the ISPs job to tell you when you need extra", would you like to suggest a method other than their assigning you a personal retinue of attendants - included in your normal monthly charge of course?
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
"grossly exceeding your limit... hmm so how you meant to know that on for example a pipex service with no online usage". My post to which you respond with rot was a reply to someone raising points about my opening post. Re Newnet!
Posted by ianwild over 9 years ago
Both the outcome of the poll and the comments here ignore the problem this was trying to solve.

Certainly the majority of our customers don't appear to have a valid email address, or at least don't monitor the one they provided to us at sign-up. A lot of other businesses don't have reliable comms with their customers by email.

Of course, customers should be be able to choose how they want to be notified, but I don't see the problem with a browsing interruption being the default. What's the problem with online notifications of things providing it's not done intrusively?
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Because it's making assumptions. Some of us don't use google, for example. And some of us use a web agent which would be badly disrupted (read: useless) by injection on every web page.
Posted by rustythespian over 9 years ago
Any ISP's ever considered that we are not all experts? I for one hate to admit to no idea how much band width I use and I would not have a clue where to look for that information. Even if I do go back as far as Sinclair 80's I am that much older now!! (76!) and I may have blinked and missed where it was written down on how to find it! All I had to go on was BT telling me last month that I had gone over and they want to put me on unlimited bradband width at an extra cost! my actual down speed goes from 77 average to the best ever of 1833 on one day only!,lot of money for a very poor service
Posted by g-bhxu over 9 years ago
In reply to ianwild.

Often it's the case that users do provide ISPs with a valid email address that is monitored, but the ISP will send emails to the email address that is set up when the user signs up to them.

e.g. When I was with AOL, they used to send emails to the AOL email address I didn't use rather than my own xxx@xxx.co.uk email address that I'd given them.


Posted by ianwild over 9 years ago
In reply to Dawn_Falcon - Fair enough, but that's why there needs to be a choice. We would never want to force this on someone and for business accounts I don't think it would ever be appropriate.

I would imagine someone using a web agent that wouldn't support the injection of some nicely formatted HTML (Which was probably generated based on the user agent in use) would be the sort that did keep their ISP up to date with their email address anyway!

Ian
Posted by ianwild over 9 years ago
g-bhxu - We do already email both the contact address on record (Which is editable on our website) as well as the default for the email account we provide. Still, often the message gets missed.

We would like to provide users the choice of how to be notified certainly. This is worth considering as it is potentially a very effective way to pass on service notices.

We already let people choose whether they want to be billed for extra usage, or have their speed capped to 128K for the remainder of the month. This would just be an extension of that process.

Ian (PlusNet support)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"@CARPETBURN. Please read and digest before spouting twaddle based on omitting the preceding stuff that the "AND"s you quote attach to! If you think very carefully, and in your case slowly please, you will realise not being able to get emails would imply you are not personally able to access your email client. This would further imply that phone calls, letters, and even personal visits by your ISP to your address would not avail either."
Maybe before you try to be sarcastic in future you should learn about other ISP systems instead of just spouting un-informed opinions.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Pipex as an example does not have any usage monitoring system/control panel for usage and thus users have no or little clue about what they have used despite all Pipex home user packages now having limits. I also imagine they dont send you emails or if they do they are inaccurate given the state everything Pipex is in. (CONT)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
BT thereself dont have a usage checker online (or they never used to). Its all very well, you calling people brain dead, but i think its you who is the one thats brain dead, unless you know some mystical way people can monitor their usage with an ISP that has no online control panel to check it and probably dont send emails to let you know... Yep I think its fair to say ISPs like that and you comments and limit knowledge about other ISPs systems is just a tad more brain dead. As said by SENSIBLE people myself included, no method is perfect.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Certainly the majority of our customers don't appear to have a valid email address, or at least don't monitor the one they provided to us at sign-up. A lot of other businesses don't have reliable comms with their customers by email."
Thank god Plusnet can comprehend that situation and atleast have other monitoring systems for users in place. :)
Posted by richardemorton over 9 years ago
Newnet provide a webpage to monitor the usage with usage to date, preicted usage, usage by day and a graph. All ISPs that limit webusage should provide such features, then people may monitor it themselves.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
For STAFF reading maybe a good idea for the site would be to add to the broadband providers list page, (http://www.thinkbroadband.com/isps.html)details about which ISPs send you emails at various stages of any monthly cap, which have a control panel to monitor your usage etc etc. With more and more providers having monthly caps in place nowadays im sure information like this would be useful when picking a provider... Just an idea :)
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
@CARPETBURN. You continue to pass comment on my (now 3) posts which started off merely as a description of the Newnet system. Not a recommendation for any other ISP, not a view on any other ISP. My first post made that clear. Dawn_Falcon posted a reply anti-hard cap. I replied to that with the post that upset you so much, from which you continue to ignore the first two highly relevant clauses.

Anything you write IN RESPONSE TO MY POSTS regarding any other ISP is mere urination into the wind! I acknowledge your supremacy at producing wind though.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
Oh - and your artistry!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
I acknowledge you obviously cannot comprehend some ISPs do not provide usage monitoring systems... Nobody gives a flying toss what one individual ISP does, this is a poll about how users would like to be informed about bandwidth limits, its not a story for people to blub about what their ISP does. You Newnet mob are getting as bad as the BT shareholders society that visit here. Must pump the service must pump. LOL
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
You were the person that called people that dont monitor their usage brain dead... and im the person asking you how those so called brain dead people are spose to monitor usage if they are with an ISP which does not have online monitoring facilitys? A question you still havent answered.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
Sorry, I didn't realise that you defined what we are supposed to post on this discussion group.

Amazing how ignorant some of us are, and how incapable I in particular am of writing clear concise English which even in this day I think most school-leavers could understand.

Odder still is that in the first of these two most recent posts you accept I was talking about Newnet, yet in the second you ignore that fact.

Merry Christmas, I have bandwidth to use up! :)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Fair enough, so do you still deem people that can not accurately monitor their usage brain dead? Or not?
Its a simple question
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
In respect of Newnet customers, yes. As you now acknowledge I was talking about Newnet customers, in respect of the customers of all other ISPs it is clear that I did not make any such comment.

And I meant Happy New Year - Christmas by-passed me :)
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
ianwild - My ISP has my current email. The problem with agents and HTML injection is one of page uniqueness and other matters which are really not simple to solve without considerable amounts of coding before the fact.

Yes, you can easily fix the agent after the fact for any given ISP's injection, but it still badly breaks the RFC's which the agent really not unreasonably assumes will be followed.
Posted by hake over 9 years ago
May I express a preference to be notified by pigeon? I have a pigeon loft and will be happy to supply feed and accommodation at my own expense.

Oh, I'm sorry. I've just been told that ISPs (even PlusNet) no longer communicate by pigeon.

Nonetheless, PlusNet's member portal contains excellent tools and commentaries to let the customer know where they stand. PlusNet is an excellent ISP.

Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
@hake. Don't forget you also have to consider the upload cost of returning the pigeon for the next message. And whilst ISP data storage is now cheap (cheep?), pigeon storage continues to rise in cost.
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