Sometime on Friday 7th February 2003, NTL World introduced a change to its Terms and Conditions for its Cable Modem services. This change has resulted in a 1GB/day downstream limit been imposed, the full T&Cs can be read here.
The relevant extract is:
Nobody may use the Services, either directly or indirectly:
(h) in excess of "normal use" bandwidth limits set out in this section.
ntl: home's broadband and dial-up services are intended for normal recreational or educational use by individuals and families and our pricing and network architecture have been designed accordingly. Customers who use the services more heavily than a normal home user will reduce the performance of the network for other customers.
"Normal use" of the service is defined as up to 1 gigabyte downstream of data transfer daily (which equates to approximately 200 music tracks, 650 short videos, 10,000 pictures or around 100 large software programmes downloaded per day).
Unfortunately there is no indication of how long this is averaged over, e.g. would a single day be considered excess use, or is it averaged out over a whole month? Obviously the latter is much more reasonable as the odd day spent downloading large amounts will not cause a problem. Additionally there is no indication of what happens if you exceed the 'normal use' limits - is it immediate cease of service?
Worryingly the limit appears to apply to both the 600kbps and 1Mbps services, which means if you use the 1Mbps service to more than 10% of its potential then you are exceeding normal use as defined by NTL.
Of course cable services are not the only ones playing this game, BT Broadband the 'no frills' ADSL service from BT Retail has a 1GB/day guideline limit, but just like NTL there is little concrete information on what happens to those who exceed the limit.
So does this reflect a trend for the future? Possibly, it may result in some home users having to move to business tarriffs which of course cost a lot more. In theory the problems of high average use should become less of a problem as more of the low use surfers sign up. Why? Well the nature of Broadband is such that the early adopters are likely to also be the heavy users. ADSL users have one advantage though, it is a lot easier to change ISP with ADSL, than with a cable modem service. NTL cable modem users can currently only subscribe to the NTL ISP service. ADSL users can migrate between ISPs, though migration is not always as smooth as people would like.
There are currently no comments about this news item.