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O2 clarifies limit on 'unlimited' broadband package
Wednesday 26 May 2010 15:11:41 by John Hunt

Last year O2 introduced traffic management on their O2 'Access' home broadband package. Access is the product you can get from O2 if you are not connected to an exchange which has been unbundled by O2. It uses BT Wholesale's network to provide speeds up to 8meg and offers 'unlimited' downloads, which according to O2 means 'Download as much as you like'.

Of course, there is no such a thing as an unlimited broadband connection, and what O2 meant to say was "Download as much as we like." Recent O2 forum postings report that users have been contacted saying that usage should be decreased to around 40GB a month. Go over this limit and you may face a warning from O2, and if you continue, O2 will provide you with a MAC and will disconnect you within 30 days.

O2's own support website suggests that you should in fact use much less than this.

"How much should I cut my broadband use?
Most O2 customers use less than 10GB a month. Aim for that and you'll be okay."

O2 support webpage

The irony of this story is that it comes out just as O2 have launched a new advertising campaign to "nobble the niggles in broadband". The campaign is designed to question rivals claims about their broadband service and how it performs, but O2 may want to look closer to home first. Click play below to see the advert on YouTube .

O2 have never been good at defining the term 'unlimited' as can be seen in 2007 when they had three different definitions for the word. Back then they did recognise that customers were confused by the term and the marketing director Sally Cowdry was quoted as saying "customer feedback has been that if we say unlimited, it should be unlimited." We wonder why two and half years on, O2 still have not 'nobbled this broadband niggle.'

Comments

Posted by JohnUK over 6 years ago
TBB are asking the wrong question when it should be: Why is it O2 LLU has no limits but O2 via BT Wholesale is restricted and backward?
Posted by otester over 6 years ago
I think O2 should go for a fixed usage policy on the BT network and explain why they do.

Aka. blame BT...
Posted by JohnUK over 6 years ago
otester the problem with that is they then have to explain why they haven't LLU'd their exchange.
Although if O2 did highlight the awfully backward limits of the BT Wholesale network it might not be a bad thing.
Posted by krazykizza over 6 years ago
£1.70/GB is a poor deal from such a large scale ISP.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
O2 will be paying a high price to wholesale. They make a profit or go bust. They should be more transparent in their claims and it shouldn't be in small print. All ISPs should state conditions clearly. That is what is wrong with all this 1st gen broadband through the phone network, it is based on the scarcity (expensive) model. The abundance model of ubiquitous fibre is the only way we can have as much as we want, need and are prepared to pay a competitive price for. Otherwise this farce continues.
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
@johnUK
I can't see any further unbundling happening. They need to sort out how unbundling fibre works. No point paying for new kit now, when you're just going to replace it with new stuff in no time at all... it won't pay for itself.
Posted by JohnUK over 6 years ago
O2 Could just stop offering the Access product, but then it's too useful a marketing tool...
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 6 years ago
good old doyle gets it wrong again

the connection from exchange to end user uses old phone network, from exchange it then goes to dslam, which is fibre all the way to wherever it goes before it goes to internet
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 6 years ago
@john, effectivly fibre unbundling for fttc/fttp ares is already sorted out, if a cp already has llu at the exchange the GEA "port" can be routed to the llu CP's equipment that is already there.
maybe not quite as simple as that, but the hard part is them having their own equipment at the exchange, once that it there its easy to get the eu onto their network
Posted by otester over 6 years ago
@JohnUK

That affects me personally and I can say that it is damn right irritating (lack of any LLU at exchange).

I do however understand that it does cost an arm and a leg to get it installed though and O2 could just say that.
Posted by Sandgrounder over 6 years ago
This is not going to get much better whilst the service providers are allowed by the regulator to use the term 'unlimited'

having no limits in range or scope.
or
limitless or without bounds



Posted by mishminx over 6 years ago
'Unlimited' has been a con since the days of dialup. ISP's loved the word so much, they redefined it. It is somewhat naive to suppose fibre would be so very different. Indeed, you would think that everyone would naturally be a cynic when it came to ISP marketing these days.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Why does Cyberdoyle (Chris Doyle) claim to be an expert in this subject but get so many facts wrong?
Posted by rasczak over 6 years ago
Otester said, "I think O2 should go for a fixed usage policy on the BT network and explain why they do."

And that explanation is that they only cherry pick exchanges that they can make large profits on, and any they offer only Access on are not deemed good enough.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
unlimited meant that in the early days of the internet, but ISPs soon wished they hadn't used that term once folk started moving large files. iPlayer, youtube and any video sharing sites, music torrents, livestream, skype, all these great things came along and all of a sudden there is a scarcity of bandwidth...
Throttling, capping, SLAs, they are all part of the management that has to happen to keep the victorian phone network delivering its service. Bring on the fibre to the home... cheers Captain.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
sorry Somerset, you are the resident TBB exert are you? I don't remember ever claiming to be an 'expert', but I do read and study everything I can and keep up to date with industry news. I was under the impression that people are entitled to debate their interests? You are also entitled to your opinion of course... which facts have I got wrong btw? You can't argue with the fact that the future is fibre. To every home.
Posted by exebod over 6 years ago
I think most people now ignore "unlimited" or go straight to the fair usuage policy straight away to find out the reality. I prefer the approach by my honest ISP, apply a limt and give ample warning when you're near to reaching it. Much more genuine. I am also able to "vote with my feet" with a no-tie contract should Zen annoy me. They're not the cheapest but I've stuck with them for years now. The bigger guys like O2, Orange need to take a leaf out of the book of the smaller ones and start treating their customers with a bit of respect instead of like fools.
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 6 years ago
u don't doyle.. fibre to the home has nothing to do with it. there is no cost in data usage from the home to the telephone exchange, the costs are on backhaul network and beyond
Posted by otester over 6 years ago
@rasczak

Potential way around that is to set a deadline per exchange of interest, when that is crossed, they will LLU it. That is quite fair and would encourage growth.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
O2 are abusing the term 'unlimited' and should stop using it. This goes beyond being a grey area in this case. The service clearly has limits.

Some users are also abusing their connection. 40GB a month? That's either a ton of illegal content or else someone using their connection for business purposes.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@cyberdoyle:Fibre will not give us an unlimited service. In fact by opening up the flood gates at the source it will put even more strain on existing backhaul, core and transits. The local loop in most cases at the moment is protecting these from serious overload.

Of course companies might invest to keep pace - but I think we all know how likely that is. Every contended service suffers from over subscription. It's the only way they can operate. Whether you argue over 40GB or 40TB a month - it'll still be the same arguments.
Posted by CommanderZendo over 6 years ago
I can't understand why people get so upset with the term unlimited. Read the small print before committing and you'll be fine, and if you feel cheated vote with your feet and move to someone who is up front about what they are providing, the cost of it and what you get for your money (No this isn't a sales pitch for us either).

Consumers always have something that is much more powerful than any regulator or advertising standards body can provide - It's called your Eyes, Ears and the ability to vote with your feet. Use those things wisely and you'll be fine :-)
Posted by ElBobbo over 6 years ago
AndrueC: I think when you said "the local loop in most cases at the moment is protecting [the existing backhaul, core and transits] from serious overload" you mean "the pathetically slow last mile is hiding the woefully inadequate and underfunded existing backhaul, core and transits and being blamed for any problems with the connection"
Posted by ElBobbo over 6 years ago
CommanderZendo: How are you supposed to know that unlimited is not unlimited? Use your eyes?

When they won't clearly state that it's not unlimited, do you just guess as to what the real situation is?

It's false advertising.
Posted by gobbybobby over 6 years ago
Most O2 customers use less than 10GB a month. Aim for that and you'll be okay."

Oh really. I have 1.5 Meg and I have used 17Gig since May 01. Most people use alot more than 40 gig. 40 gig is like taking £40 on holiday. It don't get u far.

Lets see. Lets say I get a new PC and need to redownload by Steam Games. I have 133 Gigs of Steam games. Oh wait I just bought Alpha protocol. Look at that its 11 gigs. WTF Im over what most customers use allready.

onlive + O2 broadband = FAIL
watching HDTV online + 02 Broadband = FAIL




Posted by Aqualung over 6 years ago
As has been stated many times ,if an advert says unlimited only for people to have to search through reams of terms and conditions to me its false advertising.Unfortunately we have an industry regulator that appears to have other agendas than protecting the consumer.
A long time ago this should have been stamped on but it hasnt....the moral is if your on o2 access get your mac there is better.
Posted by CommanderZendo over 6 years ago
@ElBobbo - Well I have never fallen foul of signing up for an unlimited service to find out that it was restricted to on/off peak or that it had certain protocols restricted during peak periods, or that I could only use it when the moon was out in a semi circle with a pink dot in the middle. That's because I read the terms and conditions at the outset and never tied myself into a provider that made me stick with them for a year or two etc.

It's easy - Do your homework and you'll be fine don't and your likely going to get stung if your not careful.

Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - one fact wrong is the spelling of Openreach.
Posted by JohnUK over 6 years ago
Ask yourselves this, why don't BeThere have a BT Wholesale based product???

O2 Access is there to entice customers to the O2 Brand and use other O2 products as well, a little simple consumer awareness highlights this.

As for rural access, I would point out Rutland doing VDSL2 without help from BT, essentially a self made local LLU minus BT.
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
I shall point the old adage, "You get what you pay for!", if it's cheap it's for a reason (sic limits and traffic shaping)!
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@ElBobbo:You might be right. On the other hand most LLUOs have managed to provide a good service (excellent in some cases like, ironically, O2) by using what amounts to the same 'inadequate and underfunded existing backhaul, core and transits'.

TT appear to be rolling out their own fibre but other than that I think most LLUOs are using BT for backhaul and quite probably for a fair amount of the rest of the route.

I have it on good authority that Be originally built their network entirely out of BT WAN services such as BES and LES. No idea if that's still the case but probably not.
Posted by planetf1 over 6 years ago
Ok, So the comments above
* From O2 saying you'll be fine with 10Gb
* "40GB a month? That's either a ton of illegal content or else someone using their connection for business purposes"

Well I use 80-150Gb a month and that's
a) not business
b) not illegal content

It is
* very regular multiple users listening to live video streaming
* lots of iplayer video streaming
* Online backup of Gb's of data, and photo sharing via flickr
* regular downloads inc. for example ubuntu iso images

ie multi user, multidevice, multimedia

Posted by planetf1 over 6 years ago

I'm a heavy user, and i'd expect to pay some more, but I'm with O2 (llu) as it does appear unlimited ... but I'll be moving to FTTC once I find a viable tariff option & the tech is available (late summer)
Posted by damien001 over 6 years ago
@ "AndrueC -40GB a month? That's either a ton of illegal content or else someone using their connection for business purposes."

I take it you not heard of BBCI Player, 4OD ect ect, streaming video and audio, remote backup, online gaming platforms (not just playing but downloading content) video chat, more than 1 user is a house. Anyf of these coudl easily eat 40GB
Posted by mrpunk50 over 6 years ago
I used 55GB last month and O2 are threatening to disconnect me. I don't think 55GB can be called excessive. My rapidshare account allows me 5GB of downloads per day, so 55GB in a month seems pretty restrained to me!
Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
OK, could you share with me please what 5GB a day of downloads from Rapidshare consists of?

Everything should be totally legitimate of course as we wouldn't want to use copyright violation as a reason for higher bandwidth allowances now would we?
Posted by keith_thfc over 6 years ago
Where are the regulators in all this? No wonder ISP's have got away with this for years and years - they know they can get away with it.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago
"we wouldn't want to use copyright violation as a reason for higher bandwidth allowances now would we?"

Usenet isn't violating copyright.

DOWNLOADING ISN'T ILLEGAL!
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Depends what you download. Agree?
Posted by otester over 6 years ago
^Not copyright related but probably terrorism/CP if the government found out.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
otester - do you see any need for patents?
Posted by BrianFowler over 6 years ago
I had o2 broadband thru LLU. I moved house, same number, same junction box in the street but all of a sudden when connected by BT at the new house LLU is no longer available and I was offered ACCESS at actual 360kBps for £27 per month instead of the £10 o2 Premium cost. I am now using the option of moving to another isp (C & W) who have loads of LLU at Durham Noth exchange.
Posted by psdie over 6 years ago
AndrueC wrote: "Some users are also abusing their connection. 40GB a month? That's either a ton of illegal content or else someone using their connection for business purposes."

Another -1 for this. I and others in my house use Carbonite online backup for example - every digital photo I take gets backed up to the cloud whenever machines are idle. Plus, as others have pointed out, BBC iPlayer, radio streaming, YouTube, etc etc.
Posted by psdie over 6 years ago
.. continued (stupid post limit!) ..

I'm not saying that 40GB isn't a fairly reasonable limit at this stage for a consumer connection. I do contest however that if you exceed it you are "abusing your connection". Rubbish, partic when advertised as "unlimited".
Posted by tonybreeze over 6 years ago
I have just signed up for O2, from Orange. Already I'm beginning to regret it. I can't track my order on the website and the promised 6-10 days switch over is working out at 19 days in my case - apparently because I ordered home phone at the same time - as I was encouraged to by O2.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
Ordinaily would agree on the point "buyer beware". However I recently looked into 3G data usage for a new phone.

You will not be able to find the limit of the unlimited data package on their website or in any ts and cs.

There is a "fair use policy", which means the provider can arbitrarily determine the limit at will.

What people *should* do is avoid o2 and anyone else offering "unlimited" data transfer. But not everyone is that knowledgeable.

If the phrase "up to" and the word "unlimited" were banned in relation to broadband advertising, that in itself might drive improvement.
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
TBB please stop spreading FUD, there is such thing as unlimited broadband, outside of the uk in many parts of the EU its very common. Even in the uk we have sky (LLU), BE, ukonline (LLU) and O2 (LLU) true unlimited products.
O2 access is oversubscribed plain and simple, and they are a clear reason why ofcom should force isp's to reveal contention ratios. On the subject of unlimited, if an isp ever quotes specific limits in FUP's they should always be forced to sell the product as limited, also if more then 0.5% ever invoke a FUP.
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
AndrueC dissapointing to read you think an isp has to oversubscibe to operate, zen and aaisp seem to disagree with you on that one both whom are BTw isp's. So is possible to sell services over inflated BTw backhaul prices and not have capacity issues. The problem is simple. (a) BTw/ofcom need to scrap the artificial pricing which subdsidises burst speed from usage costs and (b) the retail market is too competitive resulting in low prices.
Posted by antzonline over 6 years ago
i too had phone call saying was dowloading too much 80 gig in a month, 3 of us using xbox live, bbci player, game demos, this isnt good.
Posted by NetGuy over 6 years ago
Well, despite my connection dropping out (long line, sometimes have had a few days with no dialtone either), I started using Plusnet's Premium (80 GB/month) account then decreased my payment by switching to their Extra (60 GB) account.

Nominally a bit below 15 quid a month (Market 3 exchange), because of a few referrals it's costing me under a tenner, and despite the lousy phone line, and poor speeds (down to 256k some of the time, or no connection), I am able to download using BBC iPlayer

Posted by NetGuy over 6 years ago
@AndrueC - I only get the 'green light' to enjoy radio via live streaming, so if I want to watch something later, I have to download it ... only 4 GB in my 'to watch' list right now.

Glad I get another 15 GB via a Three mobile 'dongle' (7.50/month) which is handy as a backup but gets fully used every month! (10 GB used so far in about 8 days, switched over to use up 1.5 GB from a PAYG SIM to post this).
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