As has been in the news recently, companies have come under increasing scrutiny for their use of the word ‘unlimited’ in their advertising. When looking to broadband compare, understanding just what is meant by the phrase can be incredibly useful.
There are many options within packages described as ‘unlimited’ – many of which are lacking the freedom you might expect from such a term. Today, internet service providers have been forced to distinguish between ‘unlimited’ broadband and ‘truly unlimited’ supply. What seems like a straightforward concept has been made much more complex. In an ideal world, ‘unlimited’ broadband would mean exactly what it says – freedom to use the internet as much as required, without facing additional fees, restrictions or usage limits. This is not always the case.
According to the commonly accepted definitions, ‘unlimited’ broadband is used to describe a policy which has no set usage cap but which is governed by either a traffic management policy or a fair use agreement. These two kinds of supplier policy restrict downloads or speeds when the service is at its busiest, ie peak hours. Some companies only restrict specified kinds of internet traffic, most commonly the peer-to-peer downloading of torrents. Many people are not affected by these policies. In fact, for the majority of average internet users they are actually beneficial. During the peak evening hours, when people have finished work and are on their computers, restricting the service means that all users are able to access the system, albeit slightly more slowly, instead of having a few users receiving quick speeds and the rest being forced to struggle or even to not be able to connect at all. Traffic management means that everyone has a ‘reasonable’ service, rather than the needs of just a few users being met. Many companies also use ‘intelligent’ filtering, so that people watching live streams of catch up TV are less likely to be slowed than those who are simply downloading music in the background.
‘Truly unlimited’ broadband, then, is broadband without these restrictions. There are no caps on data usage and no traffic management across the network. Even the heaviest of internet users, downloading multiple high definition movies whilst playing real time internet games, would not be restricted in their access to the internet. For people who work from home with remote connections, large families with multiple access points on the same network in the house, or heavy downloaders, ‘truly unlimited’ options are likely to be the best choice.