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'Throttling' Broadband Provider Sued In Australia

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the for-some-values-of-unlimited dept.

Australia 130

destinyland writes "Optus has been severely throttling users who exceed a download quota, according to ZDNet — down from 100Mbps to 64Kbps — and it's drawn attention from federal regulators. Optus's ad campaign promises 'supersonic' speeds, and one technology blog notes that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 'isn't happy about Optus' sensationalist claims, which it's sure breaches the Trade Practices Act.' Australia's trade commission called the practice 'misleading or deceptive,' and the broadband provider now has a date in court next month, the second one since a June hearing over 'unlimited' voice and data plans that actually had usage caps."

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Title? (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628630)

shouldn't it be "provider" and not "provided?" the difference is subtle, yet profound...

Re:Title? (4, Funny)

x2A (858210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628728)

It's only a centimeter if we're talking physical distance between the keys it takes to press each of the letters, so really, it depends on your metric.

Re:Title? (2, Funny)

djh2400 (1362925) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629734)

I type using the Colemak [colemak.com] layout. My D & R keys are approximately 3cm apart, you insensitive clod!

Title compute the doesn't now go. (-1, Redundant)

Qubit (100461) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628642)

What the heck is up with that title?

'Throttling' Broadband Provided Sued In Australia

I've tried to parse that sentence several ways and I'm still not getting it. Even replacing a single word in it (say, "Provided" -> "Provider(s)") doesn't seem to fix it properly.

WTF, editors?

Wow, mods... (-1, Troll)

Qubit (100461) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628842)

Dude, I had the only comment on this article for like 2 minutes and I'm the one who gets modded redundant.

WTF, mods...

Re:Wow, mods... (-1, Offtopic)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628916)

Dude, I had the only comment on this article for like 2 minutes and I'm the one who gets modded redundant.

WTF, mods...

Yeah, well ... Slashdot has issues.

Re:Wow, mods... (1, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628982)

Dude, I had the only comment on this article for like 2 minutes and I'm the one who gets modded redundant.

a.) Another post beat yours by 2 minutes.

b.) Complaints about typos in the summary are redundant anyway. We get it, you're too smart to read something with a spelling error in it.

Re:Wow, mods... (0, Offtopic)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629014)

Strange the First Post was at 10:58 and his is at 10:49, meaning his was 9 minutes before being anyone else commented - so Yes I can see that /. has some problems.

Re:Wow, mods... (0, Offtopic)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629034)

he probably posted when it was still in the firehose. i've noticed when i post in the firehose, my post tends to disappear for a while after the story hits the main page.

Re:Wow, mods... (0, Offtopic)

atheistmonk (1268392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631748)

And why is this troll?

They have 100Mbps broadband here? (3, Funny)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628654)

Damn, where do I have to live to get that?

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (3, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628678)

Oh right, I see, any city that's not Perth. Got it!

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631792)

Agreed, internet speeds suck in Perth. But I'm not sure why Optus has been singled out for consideration - I can't think of any ISP that doesn't apply this rule.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (3, Interesting)

Trentus (1017602) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628722)

I'm having trouble finding any reference to a 100mb/s plan on either Optus' site or whirlpool.net

As for throttling once you've used a set amount of data, that's pretty much standard practice... it's not like they hide it.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (1)

gshegosh (1587463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628788)

Oh, I have this "n" card in my laptop and Windows says I have a "300mb/s" connection - if only those bastards didn't throttle meh down ;-)

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33629588)

As for throttling once you've used a set amount of data, that's pretty much standard practice... it's not like they hide it.

That doesn't make it any less illegal, though.

If I were to post an ad that said "I'm selling chocolate for 1 dollar per kilogram!", people would come and then I would only sell first 100g per customer for that price and ramp the prices up for amount exceeding that... Yeah, it would become obvious to people who showed up and wanted to buy more than 100g but it would still have been false advertising in the first place.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630590)

As for throttling once you've used a set amount of data, that's pretty much standard practice... it's not like they hide it.

I don't mind caps and/or throttling , but only when it is clearly advertised as such. E.g. in my case there is a 50Gb cap, and it is very clearly present in the description of my plan when I signed up for this. Nor was it advertised to me as "unlimited" at any point before or during purchase.

IMO, any use of the word "unlimited" in conjunction with that is blatant fraud, and should be prosecuted as such.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (2, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631286)

As for throttling once you've used a set amount of data, that's pretty much standard practice... it's not like they hide it.

My understanding of the complaint was not that OptArse was throttling but the way optus had advertised the service.

Throttling is standard practice, nothing you can sue about there but they have to be honest about it as you can sue for misleading advertising, which as I understand it is what the complaint is about.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33628810)

Move to Chattanooga TN, get Gigabit speed instead, and you still get to speak English.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (2, Funny)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628854)

really TN? might as well tell him to move out to the bush and install a microwave transmitter...

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33629318)

really TN? might as well tell him to move out to the bush and install a microwave transmitter...

No, the bush has fewer meth labs and marijuana gardens.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33631224)

Kick back with some iced sweet tea (with lemon), fried chicken, and mashed taters while the fiddler plays some bluegrass followed up by dueling banjos! Seriously though, Chattanooga is a tourist trap, the real Tennessee experience is Fall Creek Falls.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630502)

Damn, where do I have to live to get that?

In the NOC?

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (4, Informative)

Netshroud (1856624) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630852)

Optus' 100Mbps plan is what they call the "Optus Premium Speed Pack". An extra AU$20/mo on almost any Cable plan, plus a new DOCSIS3.0 modem, and you'll be chewing through your monthly quota about 5 times as fast. Then they throttle you. If you get the more expensive Fusion plans (the 'Unlimited' ones) the throttling speed is 256kbps. They try getting away with that because 256kbps is the minimum speed to technically be 'Broadband'. ACCC, attack!

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630966)

Hmm yeah - that was my thought too. The NBN promises speeds of 100Mbps, so presumably the one person on the NBN is also an Optus customer and they've blown their quota. Not sure why you'd complain if you were shaped when you went over your quota though. That's the purpose of quota's...

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631270)

Damn, where do I have to live to get that?

Anywhere with an Amcom fibre connection. Of course for 10 Mbit/s uncapped you're paying $1,500. I'd hate to think what 100 MB/s costs.

Someone tell me why the NBN is not a good thing again and how Australian broadband is good enough because it's not getting through my 2 Mbit DSL at home.

Re:They have 100Mbps broadband here? (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#33632056)

Damn, where do I have to live to get that?

Well, yeah you can get it, just don't you dare use it.

Supersonic speed (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628674)

From the summary:
Optus's ad campaign promises 'supersonic' speeds
Well, I'd expect that. I wouldn't like a ping time of 6 seconds per kilometer distance!

Re:Supersonic speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33628826)

They also turned a 100Mbps connection to 64 kelvinbits per second, so just make sure your bits are very cold and you can still get a decent speed.

Re:Supersonic speed (1)

u17 (1730558) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629228)

Ah, so they must have meant superconductor speeds! False advertising indeed!

Re:Supersonic speed (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629412)

Optus's ad campaign promises 'supersonic' speeds Well, I'd expect that. I wouldn't like a ping time of 6 seconds per kilometer distance!

Nobody expects a sonic transmission!

Re:Supersonic speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33631698)

Well, I'd expect that. I wouldn't like a ping time of 6 seconds per kilometer [sic.] distance!

Yup, and that's why they're going to win against ASICs s52 try-on. If taken literally their service clearly is supersonic. OTHO, since it obviously not meant to be taken literally, it's obvious puffery and not "likely to mislead or deceive."

Title (2, Informative)

antant007 (1702214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628794)

I think the title was meant to be read "Broadband provider that throttles sued in Australia"

Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628804)

If you don't subscribe to Optus's "premium" tiers, your service can be throttled to 28.8 Kb/s. [optus.com.au] From the Optus price list:

'yes' DSL Basic 200MB

  • High Speed Data Allowance: 200MB
  • Speed Limit if High Speed Data Allowance Exceeded (kbps): 28.8
  • Monthly Access Fee (from 15 April 2009): $49.95

'yes' DSL Unlimited

  • High Speed Data Allowance: 12 GB
  • Speed Limit if High Speed Data Allowance Exceeded (kbps): 64
  • Monthly Access Fee (from 15 April 2009) $91.95

Yes, they really call it "unlimited", in the same table with the limits. That table isn't easy to find. You have to go through three web pages, then download several Word documents

That's their DSL service. Their cable service has similar tiers and terms, but slightly different pricing.

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628936)

Yes, they really call it "unlimited", in the same table with the limits.

I'm always amazed by people whose frontal lobes are capable of generating and publishing such non-sequiturs without exploding.

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629268)

I'm always amazed by people whose frontal lobes are capable of generating and publishing such non-sequiturs without exploding.

My impression is that salesman, marketing people, politicians, and lawyers are often more interested in the effects their words have on others, than the actual soundness of the logic contained therein.

If one can claim that their broadband service is "unlimited" to get increased sales, without being overly sued, I think that's all some of these people care about.

It's evil: they're willing to deceive others for their own benefit.

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629466)

Not by those on which it is apparently working? (it wouldn't really be done otherwise)

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629644)

Not by those on which it is apparently working?

Yah. Them too. This just goes to show that ignorance is not bliss.

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631014)

Hey, they came up with a whole marketing campaign based around the notion that information on their internet service travels faster than the speed of sound - these people aren't high on the evolutionary tree as far as frontal lobes go.

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

lorelorn (869271) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631722)

They mostly work in marketing. I believe it's a pre-requesite there.

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (4, Informative)

kaptink (699820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628950)

Those access fees are quite high compared to some of the competition. Possibly why they are using dishonest advertising to trick people who dont know or care that much into using them instead. Just looking at broadbandchoice.com.au shows several providers offering 150gb for $90 a month. A bit more than 12gb. Worth looking at this comparison http://bc.whirlpool.net.au/bc/?action=search&state=any&class=0&type=res&pre=3000&cost=100&speed=512&upspeed=0&ip=1&contract=99&upfront=999999&needhw=yes&conntype=1&conntype=4&conntype=5&sort=0 [whirlpool.net.au]

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33630870)

Slightly off topic here, but that comparison table looks amazingly informative for picking an ISP in Australia. Anyone know of a similar site focused stateside?

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631576)

Just go from here and fill out the forms as you go: http://bc.whirlpool.net.au/ [whirlpool.net.au]

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631490)

"broadbandchoice.com.au shows several providers offering 150gb for $90 a month."

I've been with Optus for 10yrs, my current plan is 170GB for $70/mth (fibre, not copper).

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629344)

Wow...that's like advertising a ride on the Concorde, only to discover that 20 minutes after takeoff, all passengers are moved off onto Piper Cub aircraft for the remainder of their flights.

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

hydromike2 (1457879) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629522)

So there is a shittier ISP than AT&T, i can get either 200 MB for $15 or 2 GB for $25 wirelessly. I understand using less than 200 MB on a cell phone plan, but with multimedia all the shit that you have to deal with on sites these days it is fucking insane to think that 200 MB is enough, software updates alone just for windows or mac I am sure exceed that on a monthly basis.

Re:Throttling to 28.8 Kb/s. (1)

DarkEmpath (1064992) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631448)

That's insane.

I'm paying $49.95 per month with TPG, which gives me 120GB per month, and they don't pretend that's "unlimited" (they actually have an unlimited plan).

I'm having trouble getting my head around a cap as low as 12GB being called unlimited. From memory, Optus counts uploads toward your cap, too.

ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (5, Interesting)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628808)

With all the negative press these "limited-unlimited" plans have been getting both for cell phones and internet providers, I would think that a marketable slogan might now be:

"Due to the laws of physics, we aren't unlimited, but we'll do the next best thing and make it easy for you to monitor your usage and judge how much you are spending on bandwidth!"

It would be nice to have an ISP that attains success by being honest instead of by lying to their customers.

It seems the "unlimited" thing seems like such a good sell that every ISP feels the need to offer it, even when they can't actually handle the traffic. What ever happened to not selling things you can't offer?

(The corollary of SNL's "Don't Buy Things You Can't Afford.")

Re:ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628960)

It seems the "unlimited" thing seems like such a good sell that every ISP feels the need to offer it, even when they can't actually handle the traffic

Certain words and phrases are simply irresistible to certain mindsets, even when those words and phrases have long since ceased to have any real meaning. They just can't help it: they're so steeped in dishonesty that they don't really see any other way. If the law does come down on these people and force them to fix their advertising, I'm guessing it will be just as painful to these types as having all of their teeth root-canaled simultaneously.

Re:ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629690)

Perhaps we should just let consumers ACTUALLY set their pants on fire. Then we can film it and make it the new reality show.

Re:ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629126)

It's unfortunate that any new ISP would be subject to using the network of one of those problematic ISPs. The only possible solution would be to make the entire infrastructure public, but I doubt lobbyists would allow that to happen, anywhere in the world.

Re:ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (1)

lgftsa (617184) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630886)

I can't tell if you're being ironic, sarcastic or trolling.

<confused />

Re:ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (1)

Patman64 (1622643) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629214)

I always get a laugh when I ask someone how fast their internet is and they respond: "Unlimited!"

Re:ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (2, Informative)

DeadboltX (751907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630104)

What ever happened to not selling things you can't offer?

ISPs are a business notorious for overselling. It makes less tangible sense today, but think back 15 years ago when each customer needed a physical modem to dial in to. Now everything is digital, so they will cram as many users on the same line as they can until it stops making fiscal sense because of lost customers.

Re:ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (2, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630114)

"Due to the laws of physics, we aren't unlimited, but we'll do the next best thing and make it easy for you to monitor your usage and judge how much you are spending on bandwidth!"

Too many words. People are stupid. Lies work better. I go now.

Re:ISPs, sell yourselves on _service_! (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631592)

I know one ISP (iiNet) that actually did something similar: instead of making their largest quota unlimited, they made it 1TB then advertised the fact that it was the largest in the country.
And being able to monitor your usage is pretty much a given here - even Telstra/Bigpond showed you how much you'd used (at least they did back when I was with them).

I see no problem with this (-1, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628820)

If you paid for 250 GB (for example) and you hit that limit, I think the companies have every right to cut your off completely, just the same as my calling card or cellphone "cut me off" when I run out of minutes. The fact you still have Dialup speed is actually quite generous of them.

If the customers desires more than 250 GB, then let him buy more from his Aussie provider.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628864)

Even if the service was advertised as having no limit ("unlimited")?

Re:I see no problem with this (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628894)

It wasn't advertised as such. They advertise you get 120GB for the cheapest plan and 200GB for the highest plan.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629000)

It's _called_ Unlimited. Seriously...

Re:I see no problem with this (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629106)

Yeah that means "unlimited time". It used to be, back in the 90s, you were only given 100 hours (approximately) per month. Even today some providers like Netzero only give you 10 hours.

So unlimited time is a nice benefit, and should not be held against the Aussie ISP. Especially when they TELL you exactly 200 GB.

Re:I see no problem with this (2, Insightful)

Smauler (915644) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629120)

So their other plans not called unlimited are limited time, are they?

Re:I see no problem with this (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629316)

Alright I looked it up. "Unlimited downloads" is what the fine print says. The other plans only let you have a fixed number of downloads during primetime.

I guess it's similar to how cellphones only let you have XX minutes during primetime, unless you specifically buy an "unlimited minutes" plan.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629444)

A fixed 'number of downloads'? What does that even mean?

If it's limited by the number of gigabytes then we're going back to the argument that they're advertising something as unlimited when it's clearly not. If it's limited by number of files then that just makes no logical sense (although that's by no means enough to rule it out as a move by a major company).

I don't even have a problem with data limits from ISPs, I've made plenty of posts in support of them (although with certain caveats that many current ISPs don't live up to). I just think they should be more upfront about it in the advertising, and using words like unlimited without further qualifiers is in no helping on that front.

I've noticed the 'unlimited time' argument come up on Slashdot before. That might be the argument that the ISPs would try to make, but since many of the ads actually say 'unlimited downloads' they're already on very thin ice. Beyond that, since 'always on' is a standard feature of the vast majority of broadband connections, it would be hard to argue before most advertising standards boards that the 'unlimited' moniker is not, at the very least, highly misleading if referring to time without stating it explicitly.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629624)

The other, limited plans only let you have 50 GB during peak hours.

The unlimited plan lets you have unlimited GB during peak hours.

That's the difference. Like some phone plans only let you have 50 minutes during peak; or you can get unlimited peak minutes.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630070)

Hopefully I'm not missing the point entirely here (and if I am, I apologise), but isn't that still constrained by the overall limit of 120GB (or whatever amount)?

Re:I see no problem with this (2, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630388)

What's this 'unlimited time' crap?

I had cable service back around 1999 and used a NetWare server as a firewall, mostly to play around with filtering ads. Since I had it on 24x7, when the cable company ran a contest and gave a t-shirt to the user with the most hours online, I won. No problem.

The second month, they gave me another t-shirt, and then asked me if I would mind if they gave a third t-shirt to some other user... Well, I said no problem.

Third month, I'm the #1 user again, and the marketing department said they had to give me the shirt or there would be trouble. That's when they asked me what I was doing online.

I told them. They were quite upset, and tried to cut my service off for some BS terms-of-service violation. I threatened to complain to the city and the state, and called their bluff. They relented, but I asked them to stop sending cheezy t-shirts. They gave up on the contest, since I only won the third time because another player/user had some downtime. I found out he was running NTAS, of course. That explains the downtime.

But despite being 'online' for 720-744 hours a month, I wasn't downloading much at all. They had a contest for that too. I ran a chron job on my firewall just to annoy them. Won that too. Novell's FTP site was also crazy fast, and they didn't notice I was downloading it a few times a day. This would not work today.

All of this to make a point. 'Time' doesn't mean anything for online usage. Many people leave their PC on all the time, and it's talking at least a little bit always. Sounds like this ISP is just weaseling the true cap, bytes, and trying not to tell anyone. Complete and utter crap. They should pay up. Pure corporate weaselry.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630996)

'Time' doesn't mean anything for online usage.

It does if your ISP limits you to 10 hours per month (netzero or juno). Others like AOL have a 4 hour per call limit and then disconnect you, unless you click a "stay connected" popup. (This can be defeated by killing the AOL bacground program, so you never get disconnected.)

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631240)

Ah, yes, dialup is constrained by available modems.

I'm thinking more about typical brodband - cable, DSL, wireless.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629416)

Yeah that means "unlimited time".

Way to work that weasel. Back in the dial-up days, I signed up with a ISP for an "unlimited" account. I had my account terminated because I was connected too long. It was then explained to me that "unlimited" meant that they didn't restrict where you could browse.

The reality is that the marketing folks really like "unlimited" even when they can't actually deliver. So they won't be truthful and call it the "200GB Plan" or such. Instead, they'll slip in restrictions (or not even document restrictions as in my case) and begin playing linguistic limbo as soon as you run in to them.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629514)

Way to work that weasel. Back in the dial-up days, I signed up with a ISP for an "unlimited" account. I had my account terminated because I was connected too long. It was then explained to me that "unlimited" meant that they didn't restrict where you could browse.

See? EVERYTHING comes down to net neutrality!

Re:I see no problem with this (2, Informative)

euphemistic (1850880) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631590)

I'm going to clarify what the word "unlimited" means in this context (regardless of how it's complete bullshit).

On an "unlimited" plan, you get for example 50 gig. This 50 gig is at the maximum (theoretically) speed allowed by that plan by the ISP. Should you exceed that 50gig, your speed gets throttled down (or "shaped" to use the weasel word). You still can use your connection to do whatever you want, and for no extra charge, it's just that it's practically near impossible to actually do so when your speeds are cut to nearly nothing. They claim it is "shaped" to dialup speeds of 64kbps, but at least on my plan that is never really the case and I'm lucky to get 15.

That's what unlimited means, theoretically infinite amounts of data, but only 50gigs of that is at the speeds associated with how fast the technology allows. Nothing to do with time or anything like that.

Where optus has run into problems is not with the term "unlimited", it's a pretty common term thrown about by ISPs in Australia. The only problem they ran into is by claiming the speeds are "supersonic" indicating they're superfast, when, if you're throttled, they're nothing of the kind. That's it, that's the entire story.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628870)

I don't think the issue is with what they are doing, simply how they are advertising it on billboards/radio/tv/etc. Even if their website says otherwise, it could still be a problem if they advertise otherwise.

Re:I see no problem with this (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628882)

I just looked up their plans. They have multiple tiers, but the AUS$60 plan allows 120GB prior to being throttled

You can buy upto 200GB if you are a heavy user (with 256k throttle when exceeded). That's still 1/3rd my full speed CATV plan and not that bad.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628996)

I just looked up their plans. They have multiple tiers, but the AUS$60 plan allows 120GB prior to being throttled

You can buy upto 200GB if you are a heavy user (with 256k throttle when exceeded). That's still 1/3rd my full speed CATV plan and not that bad.

Yes, I'm on AT&T U-Verse myself, and I'm currently on the 12 mbit/sec tier. I was on the max plan, rated at 18 although I was getting 22, but I decided to save a few bucks a month and back it off to 12. I have to say, Comcast's ridiculous commercials aside, I've been very happy with the service. I used to have Comcast and got less speed and more latency, for more money.

Re:I see no problem with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33628900)

Yes, there is nothing deceptive about placing a limit on a service that is being sold as "unlimited."

The problem is that the companies are not being clear about exactly what you are paying for.

Re:I see no problem with this (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628986)

If the customers desires more than 250 GB, then let him buy more from his Aussie provider.

If that Aussie provider doesn't want to end up in court, let him advertise what he's actually offering. This isn't about the quality of service, it's about their quality of ethics.

I live in the U.S., and it's stories like this that make me feel better when I read other stories about countries where you can buy gigabit services for thirty bucks a month. Of course, one has to wonder whether those services are sold under similar misleading terms. I wouldn't know.

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629054)

Well, isn't it obvious? A gigabit service is one which lets you transfer a gigabit of data per month. So don't be surprised if your 4 gigabyte DVD image needs 32 months to download. :-)

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629266)

>>>4 gigabyte DVD image needs 32 months to download

Wow that IS slow. Even on dialup it would only take a little over 9 days

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

BillX (307153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629384)

Shh! Don't give 'em any ideas! On the bits thing, either. Next we'll see the marketing claims of 120GB/mo change to the much more favorable 960Gb(its)/mo... (they'll be hard-drive manufacturer "marketing" gigabits too...)

Re:I see no problem with this (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629128)

Yeah Australia's service is pretty bad. One of the worst according to these figures by Speedtest.net (average internet speed):

Russian Federation 8.3 Mbit/s
U.S. 7.0
E.U. 6.6
Canada 5.7
Australia 5.1
China 3.0
Brazil 2.1
Mexico 1.1 Mbit/s

Re:I see no problem with this (3, Informative)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629648)

Your numbers are out of date, and here's the latest from that website

Mbit/s
11 US/Russian Federation (tie)
10 E.U.
9 Canada
8 Australia
7 China
4 Brazil
3 Mexico

Re:I see no problem with this (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33631142)

Yeah, because the experience of the internet is so amazingly different if you're at 8Mb/s or at 11Mb/s.

Re:I see no problem with this (2, Informative)

newDzerzhinsky (1806046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630838)

Something DOES need to be done about the way that ISPs market themselves. I provide 2 quotes from the website of my current ISP, and ask you to guess which one is most prominently shown :) 1. "We think you deserve more. So no matter which of our fibre optic broadband packages you chose, you get unlimited downloads. That means you can download as much music, as many films and as many photos as you want without having to worry about going over any kind of limit." 2. "So to make sure that our service is fair for everybody, we sometimes moderate the speeds for the top 5% of customers who are downloading and/or uploading an unusually large amount." Lovely....So, you don't need to "worry about going over any kind of limit", but if you go over a limit, you'll get things really, really slow. It's OK. cos you can still download all you want, you'll just not be able to do it at the speed that you paid for... Gotta love that kind of doublespeak.

Re:I see no problem with this (2)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629338)

That is not correct. The service is actually adretised as '1 Mbit/s' or '10 Mbit/s' service and in such case it is reasonable to expect that I should be able to get what I paid for - such as 1 Mbit per second for the whole duration of the contract (and the 128 Kbit upload too).

Re:I see no problem with this (2)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629810)

If you paid for 250 GB (for example) and you hit that limit, I think the companies have every right to cut your off completely, just the same as my calling card or cellphone "cut me off" when I run out of minutes.

People need to stop being petty when they moderate. He has a valid point. Currently Comcast is doing the same thing except they are'nt offering unlimited service (I think their current bit is "the fastest fast"). I'm pretty sure some other ISP's are doing the same thing as they don't want any scrutiny from the FCC. The comment is valid, if they make the limits clear they the ISP is well within their rights to either ask you to pay up or disable your service till the next month. Modded up +2 under rated.

Big deal (2, Informative)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 3 years ago | (#33628930)

Comcast has throttled any P2P traffic - regardless of your plan - into the ground. The FCC has told them numerous times to stop, they told the FCC to fuck off. Numerous times.

But hey - things can play out different in Oz right? Whatever keeps those delusion flags flying is fine by me.

Re:Big deal (4, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629004)

Comcast has throttled any P2P traffic - regardless of your plan - into the ground. The FCC has told them numerous times to stop, they told the FCC to fuck off. Numerous times.

Then the FCC should revoke Comcast's license, plain and simple.

Re:Big deal (5, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629168)

The ACCC are quite popular in Australia because they actually make companies behave.

They're the reason you can't enforce DVD region-locking in Australia, for example. (DVDs are still often sold region-locked, but players can play any region.)

Re:Big deal (2, Insightful)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629404)

It's called "government regulation". It actually works outside the United States of corporAtions. FCC can not stop Comcast, because Comcast paid lobbyists who paid congressmen to remove any punishing powers from FCC before it even got them. In any normal country, if the cable operators would be doing to Internet what they are doing now in the US the government would step in and either fine them obsene amounts of money (not a million, but something like 10% of their income until they fix the problem) or just take them over and split up the monopolistic companies. So that the ISPs would not be allowed to do any other business but to only be dumb pipes selling guaranteed-minimum bandwidth slices to all willing customers (no bandwith, only speeds). And force all companies that put wires into peoples homes (telefone, cable, electrical, ...) to give access to such wires to any other company that the customer wants, so that you control the last mile and not the company that brings you a service over it.

It has been done all over the world and it works pretty well.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33630848)

Yep, government regulation is a Good Thing when it's done in the interests of the general population (and not for a select few).

It's a shame so many have an anti-government stance when, in fact, it can help bring the mega-corporations into line.

In a freer market we solve our disputes in court, where he with the better lawyer wins.

Re:Big deal (3, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631346)

Comcast has throttled any P2P traffic - regardless of your plan - into the ground. The FCC has told them numerous times to stop, they told the FCC to fuck off. Numerous times. But hey - things can play out different in Oz right? Whatever keeps those delusion flags flying is fine by me.

Two completely different cases here.

ISP's in Oz cant throttle p2p connections, they can only throttle entire connections and this must be advertised with the service. ISP's in Australia are dumb pipes, doing any kind of throttling or port blocking without the customers knowledge is illegal. That being said, throttling (the entire connection) after a certain cap has been reached is completely legal as long as it has been advertised (customer knows when signing up for the service).

This complaint is because a customer feels that Optus has misrepresented their service in their advertising, not because Optus is throttling (in plain English, Optus was caught lying). As other posters have mentioned the ACCC (Australian Completion and Consumer Commission) our competition watchdog is quite popular and does work, albeit a little slowly.

Limited ISPs (3, Informative)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 3 years ago | (#33629202)

In germany there's an ISP called kabeldeutschland that claims 100mbit down 6mbit up (its cable + fiber behind).
Except from 6pm to 8am you get less than 1Mbit up/down on every protocol except HTTP. Everyday, no matter how much you downloaded or not (there's no download cap actually).

Quite sucky and probably borderline legal. They documents only say "up to" of course with no mention of the enforced 100k/s limit depending on the time of the day.
Their marketing material however, compares their 100mbit versus the 16Mbit of traditional DSL like the best thing since sliced bread. Except the traditional DSL provides 16Mbit on every protocol internet supports regardless of the time of the day, and is therefore much better. (and cheaper!)

nigga (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33630490)

consid3r worthwhile do, and with any and some of the

its also happening here people !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33630676)

This is also happening here in the US. I've recently signed up with CLEAR internet provider for a 6Mb/s unlimited download deal..... unfortunately, 90% of the time the download speed is capped to 0.25Mb/s....

Take a look at the CLEAR forum : http://forums.clear.com/clearcom where many many people are having heavy restrictions placed upon them for just using the service....

CLEAR deny this is happening, however I spoke to a CLEAR tier 2 network guy who said yes, you are currently being capped.

In Which Optus is like Dunhill. (1)

DumbparameciuM (772788) | more than 3 years ago | (#33630992)

Optus are utilising the same basic tactics that the Tobacco industry uses - they flagrantly dodge strict advertising laws, but all they ever get is a slap on the wrist.

Even if Optus only got a thousand new subscribers with that campaign, then they'll still make a long-term profit if they get fined by the ACCC.

It gets worse... (2, Informative)

bertok (226922) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631318)

Take a look at the plans by Comcen, a smaller ISP that I'm with. Their new ADSL2+ plans throttle off-peak bandwidth down to 2Mbps all the time, even if you haven't exceeded your quota!

See the plans here [comcen.com.au] . Click a plan to get more information, where it will say "Off-Peak Speed: Speed is slowed to 2000Kbps (2Mbps) during off-peak only". All but one of the plans has a permanent throttle on night-time bandwidth.

What if you're a professional who wants to sync or back-up data to your work at night? What if you're a techo like me doing after-hours remote maintenance over a VPN? If you're with this ISP, you won't get a choice, you'll be throttled, even if your physical link can do over ten megabits!

Re:It gets worse... (1)

DarkEmpath (1064992) | more than 3 years ago | (#33631686)

I could live with that - I'm so far from the exchange I only get 1.5Mbp - 2Mbps at best anyway. I can't wait for the NBN to reach me...

meanwhile, back in the day.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33631854)

Optus actually had virtually unlimited cable plans.. they used to cost about $60 per month and you could just go crazy, as fast as the lines could feed the data.

There was a contract proviso that Optus reserved the right to limit your service speeds if they felt you were abusing the privilege of unlimited downloads. If you downloaded more than 10 x the average download amount of all the internet users on the plan, you'd be notified with a warning. If you did this 3 months in a row, they might throttle your connection for a month. So you had to break half a terrabyte of downloads, 3 months in a row (bare in mind .. this was when computers had 80GB hard disks) to possibly have your connection reduced to something which was just faster than every competitor.

How things have changed ... now Optus sells $30 'broadband' connections which drop down to half modem speeds after watching an hour of youtube videos.

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