28 Apr

What’s So Fair About ISP’s Fair Usage Policy?

Talk about Internet Service Provider’s Fair Usage Policy .

What I wrote below is based on my observation of Malaysia broadband’s FUP that might apply to other countries too.

internet broadbandHave you ever heard someone said something like “What so fair about Fair Usage Policy” or “Nothing is fair about Fair Usage Policy”. What is Fair Usage Policy? Why it is relevance to you as a broadband internet subscriber?

Internet Service Provider (ISP) have  a policy of what they call Fair Usage Policy (FUP) which is most of the time is never explained to customer. The sales agent will not tell unless the customer ask and the web copy is buried somewhere in the ISP homepage. Plus, it is literally in small prints.

You can read an example Fair Usage Policy by an ISP at: Celcom Fair Usage Policy

Well, the actual policy is quite lengthy, you might want to find it on the ISP homepage itself. The important part on the policy are  the speed and the total bandwidth that you may get.  ISP need FUP so they get the ‘slack’ in case they cannot deliver the plan’s exact specs to customer. If you buy a piece of chocolate donut, a piece of chocolate donut you shall get. If you buy internet access plan with 2 mbps of speed,  it ‘s NOT necessary you shall get internet access with 2 mbps of speed.

Typically, say if you subscribed to a broadband package of 8 Gig monthly bandwidth with 1 mbps speed, then you will get 8 Gig of bandwidth per month (or could be more depends on the ISP’s FUP) but NOT necessarily with the speed 1 mbps all the time. In fact most of the time you will not get 1 mbps speed but maybe around 0.7 mbps.  You may even NEVER get the subscribed maximum speed. Of course this depend on your area, signal strength, number of users etc.

Understandable, giving the nature of internet itself, ISP needs FUP. Internet access is no chocolate donut. ISP use FUP  in order to give every user a comfortable internet experience and not just to a handful of people that tend to hog the internet or when too many users are using.  Let’s hope ISPs are really  trying their best to give every user a good broadband access.

TM does provide every customer with an allocated bandwidth, where other customers may use when not used by the others.  Unfortunately, the nature of P2P more often than not, takes more than their allocated bandwidth, thus causing undue setbacks for other users when they want to use the service.  ….. from TM’s Streamyx website

broadband malaysian ispYou may experience slower internet speed within peak hours due to too many users are using it. Within this period, ISP cannot give you the high speed as stated in your subscribed plan because they need to give the access to all the users at the same time.

You might asked why ISO doesn’t give the speed as per plan subscribed since you already paid for that. Well, if ISP gives the maximum speed all the time then you wouldn’t  get the plan at the price you subscribed now. Of course, that is questionable (let’s talk about that at some other time). Anyway, these this type of slower than normal speed happens on peak hours only and most of the time the internet speed is comfortable enough (this depend a lot on your location, certain location there is no difference at all). Same thing goes to allowed bandwidth.

There is another reason of reducing speed that made Fair Usage Policy infamous, they called it ‘throttled speed” or “managed speed”. You will get throttled speed when you have used up all the bandwidth quota allowed with your subscribed plan.  You will get back the normal speed after your subscription period is over and a new subscription period begin.

FUP also makes supposedly unlimited bandwidth internet plan ‘limited’.  Maybe you have subscribed to unlimited bandwidth plan which is seem great but actually have ‘limit’ too.  The thing is, once you hit the FUP’s limit you still get unlimited bandwidth but with a snail crawling throttled speed that gives ‘broadband’ another meaning. How much banadwith can you use with that kind of speed?

malaysia ispThe throttled speed depends on the ISP’s discretion which may suite the users in the particular  location. I don’t think they spell out exactly what speed is the throttled speed,  some users say around 56kbps- 125bkps . Let just say it just good enough for checking email. This is one the ‘slack’ that ISP have in the policy because they cannot  ascertain how many users and how much bandwidth will be used in certain area in advance (beside many other reasons). Hence, users in different location may get different throttled speed and some lucky ones may not experience it all even after they have used up way beyond the allowed bandwidth.

If your location have way too many user then prepare to experience more disruption  and reduce speed. That apply if ISP use the same infrastructure with the same capacity since the day one (despite the increased number of subscriber). ISP may upgrade the facility but then it’s not an everyday thing. You got to pat on the back of ISP that keep on upgrading their service. I mean really, really upgrade their service and not just an excuse to say to you when you asked them why the internet is down.

Said that, it made ISP Fair Usage Policy a little bit funny. In a minor way, FUP work against ISP. With other product, if you think it is a good product you would like to recommend it to others but not with broadband provider. The more people in your area use the same broadband service then  the slower it  becomes.

malaysia broadbandIf you are using a ISP that you think is good then keep it to yourself. “Don’t kiss and tell.”  If you neighbor asked, then say “I’m not sure but I heard …….. is good”. Fill in the blank with the ISP you are NOT using. You don’t want your internet in you area to be congested, don’t you? Especially when many of your neighbors have teenagers addicted to manga anime movie 🙂

‘Funny advice’, huh? I knew. Sad but true. Tell that to your ISP!