Ofcom Slams Misleading 'Unlimited' Broadband, Text and Call Claims

By Broadband Genie, PRNE
Thursday, March 17, 2011

CAMBRIDGE, England, March 18, 2011 - Broadbandgenie.co.uk has joined communications regulator Ofcom in
condemning the use of the word 'unlimited' when selling broadband and mobile
phone tariffs that are anything but.

Confused consumers have received huge bills, leading to anger and
mistrust of broadband and phone suppliers. Ofcom's own research shows a host
of examples of 'bill shock' where charges reach hundreds of pounds, or where
internet speeds have been slashed within weeks of starting a new contract due
to exceeding the fair use policy. Broadband Genie users regularly contact us
with similar stories.

Broadband Genie editor Chris Marling added: "There is no excuse for
advertising a broadband product as 'unlimited' - suggesting you can download
as much as you want - and then bury the times you are allowed to do that in
the small print. The same goes for texts and minutes on mobile phones.

"While the recent 'up to' recommendations from Ofcom to the ASA took the
headlines, this is another significant announcement that will further help
consumers get some transparency in the broadband deals they are offered.
Complaints about speed are born of frustration, but those about bill shock
can have very real consequences."

The majority of leading UK internet and mobile service providers use the
term 'unlimited' in their advertising, despite putting heavy restrictions on
usage in the small print.

On using the word 'unlimited' in advertising, Ofcom's report told the
Advertising Standards Authority: "It is clear some consumers are currently
being misled by the use of the term 'unlimited' and that many consumers
signing up to such packages are not made aware of the relevant fair usage
policies." It concludes, "Ofcom recommends that this term only be used when a
service has no usage caps implemented through a fair usage policy."

It should put an end to a practice many have called dishonest and
misleading. The likes of BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk all currently offer
supposedly 'unlimited' broadband deals that in fact carry strict fair usage
polices. Of the large brands, only Sky and Virgin Media offer any actual
unlimited deals at all. The Ofcom proposal will put a stop to this confusing
and arguably dishonest advertising practice - a move fully backed by
Broadband Genie.

Ofcom Examples

- A consumer had a pay monthly mobile and was told at the point of sale
that she would receive unlimited SMS, call and mobile internet. The consumer
was subsequently and unexpectedly billed GBP350 for exceeding the fair usage
policy which applied.

- Another consumer took out a mobile phone contract on the basis it had
free unlimited texts. He had then had his service suspended as he had spent
GBP157 on texting, after exceeding the fair usage limit of 3000 texts per

- A consumer stated that he entered into a mobile phone contract to a
provider that offered unlimited internet usage because the 3GB per month
limit on his previous contract was not sufficient . The consumer then found
that there was a Fair Usage Policy which limited his usage to 500 MB per
month, i.e. considerably less than his previous service which he found to be

- A consumer signed up to an unlimited broadband service but within the
first few weeks received an email from the provider stating that the fair
usage limit of 100GB had been exceeded and their broadband service would be
slowed down as a result.


1. Broadband Genie is the UK's leading independent broadband, mobile
broadband and smartphone comparison website, providing consumers with an
unbiased source of information on prices and contracts and allowing them to
compare providers in an independent environment. Broadband Genie was launched
in March 2004 as the first dedicated consumer comparison site for broadband,
while Mobile Broadband Genie was the first independent mobile broadband
comparison site, launched in October 2007. The sites were combined in 2010,
with the addition of smartphone comparison. The site is one of the most
popular in its field, regularly featuring in the national press.

2. All queries and interview requests should be directed to Chris Marling
at Broadband Genie:chris.marling@genieventures.co.uk

All queries and interview requests should be directed to Chris Marling
at Broadband Genie:t +44(0)844-415-5531 / f +44(0)871-6618553 / m
+44(0)7908-327303 / chris.marling at genieventures.co.uk

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