Business Technology

Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Unlimited' data deals get new ASAI probe

Some operators claim the right to 'throttle' a user's service, slowing it down considerably so that it can no longer be considered as 'high-speed' (stock photo)
Some operators claim the right to 'throttle' a user's service, slowing it down considerably so that it can no longer be considered as 'high-speed' (stock photo)
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

The head of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) has indicated that mobile and broadband firms using the word 'unlimited' for data services with hidden limits may soon have to change their policies.

Orla Twomey said that the ad regulator is getting complaints on the issue and can see why some feel that current telecoms firm policies are "not consistent with the meaning of the word" unlimited.

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"I couldn't possibly disagree with you that there isn't an issue to address in this area," she said, referring to operators that penalise users of mobile and broadband services that exceed hidden data limits on so-called unlimited services.

All of the country's biggest operators advertise such unlimited services, with limits described as 'fair use' or buried in terms and conditions.

A number of Eir customers have recently complained about being charged €100 for exceeding a hidden one-terabyte monthly limit on its unlimited plans.

Other operators claim the right to 'throttle' a user's service, slowing it down considerably so that it can no longer be considered as 'high-speed'.

However, Twomey denied that the issue is a "black and white" one.

"I think there is an element of grey," she said. "I think that if it's not going to affect people, then I don't see that it is misleading."

She was speaking on the independent.ie The Big Tech Show, and the full interview is available in the website's podcast section.

The current ASAI rules allow telecoms operators to claim that a service is unlimited if its hidden limit affects less than 1pc of users and a fair use condition is identified.

Telecoms regulator ComReg and consumer watchdog the CCPC claim that it is solely an ASAI matter.

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