It’s unlimited Sir, but only up to 500 meg

This truly is a rant. It’s one I have a deep issue with, and it’s probably one that will drive me to insanity. This is a story all about how advertising for broadband got turned upside down.

The world and dog is going on about “Unlimited Internet”. ISP’s are advertising the fact, and now the mobile operators have jumped on the bandwagon, now that people want high speed internet on their phones. There is a problem. It isn’t really unlimited at all. A large proportion of the ISPs will tell you that there is a fair usage policy that applies (it’s usually in the small print), but they will rarely tell you what that fair usage amounts to.

Orange and O2 are even cheekier. Unlimited Internet on the iPhone with O2 means a top limit of 500MB per month, after which they can charge you at normal rates if they so wish. Orange is 750MB. So… since when has the term “unlimited” meant “with limits” in any dictionary? Worse still, O2, whilst providing unlimited Internet to your iPhone, won’t let you tether that to use it as a modem on your laptop unless you pay them a minimum £15 per month for a paltry 3GB of usage. Again, how is that unlimited? Orange take you to the 750MB limit for free, and then bill you per MB at an extortionate rate.

Next question. Why not complain to the Advertising Standards Authority? Well that’s easy. People already have. Lots of them. And the ASA turned round and said the ISPs are within their rights to advertise their services as unlimited as they are providing more than your average Internet user is likely to consume. Except they aren’t. I’m your average Internet consumer. I watch the odd YouTube video. I read some blogs. I download some stuff to install, and I generally go about my Internet life much like many other people do. Facebook, Twitter. The usual. And I can quite happily consume far more than “unlimited” according to these ISPs.

My gripe is that the Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines “unlimited” as:

adjective not limited or restricted; infinite.

That spells it out really. When an ISP says it’s unlimited and they put a fair use policy on it which limits your usage, or just as bad gives you an out and out limit after which usage is chargeable, they’re lying. When will the ASA stand up to this and rectify the situation?! It’ll carry on as long as it isn’t publicised and the ASA aren’t forced to eat their words and chastise the ISPs about it.