Wireless Broadband ISP Relish Threatens to Cut-off “Unlimited” Abusers
Fixed Wireless ISP Relish Wireless (UK Broadband Ltd.), which was recently acquired by Three UK and operates a 40Mbps capable LTE broadband network in central London and Swindon, has surprised users by introducing a vague Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) on their “unlimited” service. The announcement – headlined “we’re making improvements” – was made as part of the provider’s latest newsletter and a copy has found its way into our inbox. The newsletter starts off well enough by informing customers about the work that Relish has been doing “across the entire network” to correct interference issues, which they claim should “give better signal, improving your stability and speed.”
Unfortunately Relish, which will shortly be celebrating their third anniversary, then takes a dive towards controversial territory by announcing the introduction of a new Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). The following is a short extract from their newsletter.
Keeping usage fair We believe broadband should be unlimited, without data caps.
And we are passionate about ensuring we can keep this for our customers. Unfortunately really excessive use of the service can have a big impact on the experience for others. This is particularly true during the busy times when there are lots of other people trying to use their broadband.
Because of this, we’re introducing an Acceptable Use Policy. This means some of our heaviest users that are affecting the network could be contacted and they will be asked to reduce their usage. This just keeps it fair – and ensures that everyone has good speed and access – rather than a few people essentially clogging up the network.
We will always keep an up to date explanation of our policy online if you want more information. What does this mean for you? You still receive an unlimited broadband package with us at Relish, but there is now an Acceptable Use Policy in place. For 99% of our customers, they will not be affected by this change- if anything, you should see an improvement.
A copy of the new AUP can be found on the ISP’s website and, aside from being very vague about what would actually constitute abuse of Relish’s service, the policy also confirms that in extreme cases the ISP may choose to “suspend” or “terminate” subscribers for heavy usage.
Relish’s Acceptable Use Policy
So, if we determine in our sole opinion that your unlimited use of our Service either exceeds that reasonably expected of someone using the Service or materially affects other users’ enjoyment of the Service, or has an adverse impact on our network, then we will by written notice, give you a 14 day period in which to reduce your usage to levels to be reasonably expected of a person using the Service. As a result, if your levels of usage activity have not decreased within the 14-day notification period, we may at our discretion either:
1. Suspend or terminate your Service and/or
2. Place your Service under what we call traffic management (where a traffic management policy has been implemented) as and when we deem necessary to ensure the most efficient use of our network for all our customers.
Suffice to say that it’s been quite a few years since we had to report on news of an ISP doing something like this. One of the reasons for that is because of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which in 2012 introduced a new guideline to help tackle misleading promotions of “unlimited” terminology.
However it does not appear as if Relish has taken fully account of those guidelines and so here’s a helpful reminder. According to the ASA, terms like “unlimited” can only be used if the customer incurs no additional charge or suspension of service as a consequence of exceeding a usage threshold associated with a Fair Usage Policy, Traffic Management measures or similar policy. The ASA also expects any limitations that affect the speed or usage of a service to be moderate and clearly explained in any advertisements.
Sadly existing customers who choose to disagree with the new AUP are simply told to “cease use of the Service with immediate effect.” In fairness it is still very challenging for smaller providers to offer “unlimited” packages and so we can understand why Relish might seek to impose a new rule, although they clearly need to be clarify precisely what constitutes excessive usage.
Credits to one of our readers (Morgan) for highlighting the change.
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