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What is a fair use policy?

All about broadband fair use policies

A fair usage policy (FUP) is part of the terms and conditions in Teledata’s broadband provider contract which limits how a broadband connection can be used.

The FUP can include restrictions on data usage.

A FUP is not the same thing as a data usage cap or data allowance.

A data cap or allowance is a specific amount of data which you can use in each billing period, with penalties (such as additional charges or reductions in speed) for exceeding the limit.

In contrast, FUPs are usually vague and do not specify a limit. They are deliberately broad because they’re generally intended to prevent a small number of users from consuming an excessive amount of bandwidth which could impact broadband performance for everyone else, rather than placing restrictions on all subscribers.

Fair use policies are typically intended to combat unusually high data usage which is outside the norm, so you could run up against it if you download or upload large amounts of data very frequently.

For most people, this is most likely to occur when using file-sharing services because this can easily result in very high traffic usage. But it is possible you may encounter the limits of a FUP with anything that involves frequent transfers of lots of data. For example, using an online backup service to archive files may involve moving a huge amount of data and could breach a FUP.

Infrequent or one-off data transfers probably won’t be an issue. A FUP will also not come into play for the things most of us do day-to-day such as web browsing, social media, email, and video or audio streaming.

Fair usage policies are often vague so you may not know there’s a problem until Teledata notifies you.

It shouldn’t be hard to avoid problems because they are usually meant to stop very high and frequent data usage. So if you are doing something which involves lots of downloading or uploading, don’t do it for too long or very often.

However, you won’t know precisely how long is too long because the FUP probably won’t offer much detail. Read the terms and conditions, and call Teledata if you have any questions.

The thing which is most likely to cause an issue is file sharing, because it can continually use the connection to transfer enormous amounts of data (and of course downloading or sharing pirated files can result in legal problems too). But as long as you’re not continually using file-sharing, you should be safe.

Teledata will notify you if you’ve breached their terms of service. If it’s your first offence they may just issue a warning; otherwise, you could face some kind of penalty.

Breaking a FUP could mean:

  • Moving you to a different package. Teledata may say you have to move to a different (and likely more expensive) package which is more suitable for your usage.
  • Cancellation of service. Cancelling your contract altogether is possible, but would be an extreme response and likely only one they would use after repeated breaches.
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