Tuesday 17 September 2019

Broadband and phone firms face 'unlimited' ban


Broadband contracts can have hidden data service limits. Stock Image
Broadband contracts can have hidden data service limits. Stock Image
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Ireland's broadband and mobile operators may soon be banned from using the word "unlimited" for data services which have hidden cut-off points.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) says it is to undertake a "comprehensive review" of telecoms companies' use of the term, which is leading to some customers getting unexpected additional monthly bills for exceeding hidden data limits.

"In relation to the word 'unlimited', the ASAI has identified this term as one to be reconsidered and we can confirm that a comprehensive review will be undertaken," said a spokeswoman for the ASAI. She added it is specifically targeting telecoms firms which advertise mobile and broadband services.

The move may help customers who sign up to lengthy broadband or mobile contracts, only to find that what they thought was an "unlimited" data service is capped at rates that can be moderate.

At present, the ASAI allows broadband and mobile firms to describe their services as "unlimited" on billboards, television ads and websites if the hidden data cap affects no more than 1pc of the firm's customers. The firms can do this by describing the data limits, which can vary substantially by provider, as "fair use policies".

But the term has sparked dozens of complaints to the ASAI, with some customers expressing shock that an "unlimited" service is legally allowed to have hidden limits.

"I have Eir's unlimited fibre broadband but once you go over their monthly fair use policy, there is no warning," said Glen Mulcahy, an audio-visual professional.

Another user who contacted the Irish Independent about the issue said: "when my first bill arrived, I was charged €20 for excess usage. It was the first time I was aware of excess usage. Most of the bills I received after that also had a €100 excess usage charge."

A spokeswoman for ComReg said it had no say over use of the word "unlimited" in ads.

Irish Independent

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