When Unlimited… Isn’t

Dave Zatz —  April 7, 2007

Sounds like our “unlimited” data plans may not be so unlimited after all… In two separate revelations this week, both Verizon and Comcast appear to have very specific limits in place (though Comcast isn’t disclosing a number).

CybernetNews documents Verizon’s mobile broadband service agreement:

We reserve the right to limit throughput or amount of data transferred, and to deny or terminate service, without notice, to anyone we believe is using an Unlimited Data Plan or Feature in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts our network or service levels. Anyone using more than 5 GB per line in a given month is presumed to be using the service in a manner prohibited above, and we reserve the right to immediately terminate the service of any such person without notice.

PC Magazine investigates Comcast’s home broadband service:

Customers across the country have been contacted by the telecom giant with a warning to curb excessive bandwidth consumption or risk a one-year service termination. Comcast, however, is refusing to reveal how much bandwidth use is allowed, making it impossible for customers to know if they are in danger of violating Comcast’s limit.

Admitted “Internet junkie” and Chattanooga resident Cameron Smith also had his service cut off in January for one year. “They said there wasn’t a limit [for downloading] but that I was downloading too much, about 550 gigs. I backed off to about 450 gigs, but they still suspended us.”

Frankly, I find this pretty surprising given how folks like to sue here in the US. What else could “unlimited” possibly mean? Then again, maybe we consumers should do a better job reading the fine print. And take our business elsewhere.

(FYI I have Comcast broadband, plus a Verizon phone and Verizon EVDO card — neither company has contacted me regarding my usage. Both provide the best network services in my area and I’d hate to give them up.)

2 responses to When Unlimited… Isn’t

  1. Seriously, why should I need to read the fine print or the ever changing TOS, when every add everywhere says ‘unlimited’. This is just a class action suit begging to happen and the only one’s being abusive here are the consumers that signed up for service based on clear unequivicale statements only to be stabbed in the back by corporate giants that feel ok about lying through their teeth and then hiding behind an army of lawyers.
    Compared to a good chunk of the other tech players in the world we are paying to much for bandwidth and getting way to little in return. This what comes from having duopoly that clearly feels no completive pressures as represented by being abusive to it’s customers in this way.I’d fire comcast but who dose that leave me with, SBC? There’s an improvement :p.

  2. And what happens when services like Joost become popular? Terminating broadband accounts may work when you’re dealing with a very small number of people. But with P2P, that number may be about to grow.