“Unlimited” to an ISP means limited to the rest of us.

Robert X. Cringely blogs about the misuse of so-called “unlimited” usage. Entertaining so long as you’re not a Verizon customer. Apparently 5 gigabytes of data is the limit for their so-called “unlimited” plan. If you download more than that in a month, your connection is cut off and you’re expected to pay a fee for “early termination”.

This is actually two problems:

  1. It’s easy to legitimately download more than 5GB in a month. Anyone who downloads free software operating systems and free media (as I encourage people to do) can accomplish this in a month. If you make media (another worthwhile activity), it’s even easier to generate more than 5GB of data in a month that you’d like to share with others, which requires uploading it to your server. Perhaps you don’t do this routinely, but as far as Verizon cares one infraction is enough to justify ending your service.
  2. Paying a fee to the organization that cut you off for downloading too much is ridiculous on its face. This is akin to the logic a bully would use to try and justify beating you for disobeying capricious restrictions.

Years ago, I once had a similar dispute with a local ISP over this issue. I had a second telephone line I was willing to use exclusively for dialing into the ISP over an ordinary telephone modem. The ISP claimed I was using too much connection time, I told them that their plan indicated the usage could be “unlimited”. They claimed that this was subject to vague terms of using the service “too much” and cut off my access. They never even defined what “too much” was in any specific way, but even if they had it wouldn’t change the fact that their service plan was not “unlimited”.

Apparently it’s too much to ask that people actually use the word “unlimited” for its actual meaning and sell Internet access plans with defined limits on how much one can stay connected (in the case of a phone connection) and/or how much data one may transfer over that connection. You know, actually spelling out the details and abiding by them.

One thought on ““Unlimited” to an ISP means limited to the rest of us.

  1. This is also true of “unlimited” email accounts. I’be had issues with ISPs and hosting who advertize plans with unlimited email… turns out the limit is usually around 50 accounts. Not quite unlimited if you are running a small company with 200 people…

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