Zen sounds a cautionary note
Zen Internet has issued a press release urging people to be cautious about the variety of offers around at present that are out there for broadband in its many forms. The full Zen press release is located here. The main emphasis of this is that Zen do not have any usage or time restrictions on their ADSL services, and have no plans to introduce them in the foreseeable future.
It is understandable for a service provider to take the time to issue a release like this, since most people are seeing the price of their current or prospective broadband connection come down, or get faster or both. Some price offers and 'free' increases in speed can be viewed as simple tactics to get people to accept new terms and conditions for a service that then has strict usage limits of one form or another. Mainly this is in response to the growing size of the UK broadband market and pressure from consumers for lower prices, in fact ADSL pricing now undercuts a lot of dial-up packages. In some cases the prices on offer are short term limited availability, others are loss leaders to build up share in a competitive market, and others are relying on a percentage of people going over usage limits and paying for extra capacity.
Some areas like local loop unbundled (LLU) services do offer potential for a provider to offer a cheaper service than most other providers. The BT Datastream services can be used to undercut the majority of services which are IPStream based, but this has occassionally resulted in a pile-em high and sell it cheap style service performance. At the end of the day the underlying pricing for BT IPStream services has largely remained unchanged for the last year or so. In fact with the introduction of new pricing methods it can be shown to have risen, how much depends on the type of services offered by an ISP.
We have seen a number of service providers introduce things such as leaving fees if you migrate from the service, which we feel should not be allowed as this may unfairly lock people into a service. The moral, if there is one to the press release by Zen, is to read your service providers terms and conditions, and if there is a metered element to the usage, to be sure you are happy with it. Some providers charge automatically when you exceed the limit, others just slow things down until the next month or you pay more, some restrict the service to only allow email.