Saturday, August 28, 2010

Internet Fair Use Policy

For more than three months, I have been constantly subscribing to unlimited internet surfing promos and I never thought that I would ever be suspended for being an excessive internet user.

Just last night, I tried registering again to my ISPs 1-day unlimited surfing promo and much to my frustration, no matter how many times I tried, I could not register - and I really needed to be connected! I called their customer service and I learned that my account has been suspended because I already exceeded my usage threshold. Why and what happened to me is explained in the Internet's "Fair Use Policy."

It was not my first time hearing about this "Fair Use Policy" but I never really paid attention to it until now. From what I've learned, even though ISPs say "unlimited", there is a certain limit to your Internet use. This limit cannot be easily exceeded unless, like me, you download and upload several large files every month during peak hours - which is best manifested when you use peer-to-peer applications like BitTorrent and Limewire.

The Fair Use Policy may differ for every ISP (Internet Service Provider) but the concept is basically the same. We share a connection with several other people and using bandwidth-heavy applications can slow down these other people's connection. If this catches your ISPs attention, they should notify you that you are exceeding your share. When this happens, you don't really have to stop using your internet altogether, but rather change your surfing schedule or cut down on the downloads and uploads. But, if you continue to abuse their services, it could push your ISP to throttle your bandwidth or worse, terminate or suspend your account. The latter was what happened to me.

Sadly, I was not notified by my ISP that I have been exceeding my threshold and violating their Fair Use Policy. If I had not called their customer service, I never would have known what hit me.

I understand that this Fair Use Policy exists in order for ISPs to provide the best service to a larger number of people. If they see you hogging all the bandwidth for yourself because of your Internet surfing habits, then they will take action. My only dismay with my ISP is that I was never notified and was just automatically suspended. I wished they had notified me beforehand so I could cut down on my use. Also, there is no clear definition of what is "heavy/excessive" Internet use. Just how much is excessive?

Yes, I still have many questions regarding this policy but I am also glad that I got acquainted with it through a firsthand experience. So, if you download several GB of movies or whatnots every month, be warned - you could end up with the same predicament as me.

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