Every internet service provider is required to have a fair access policy. The details of these policies also need to be made available to their customers and to anyone considering their service. Essentially, their fair access policies must be made public. The following will provide some information about these policies and why they are so important when dealing with a satellite internet provider.
- Why are FAP’s needed? The reason that fair access policies were required to be established for all internet service providers, is because each ISP has a limited amount of bandwidth that it provides to its entire customer base. The policies provide assurance that all the provider’s customers have the same availability of access.
- Compare to DSL and Cable. Fair access policies are seldom a concern for DSL or cable internet customers, like they are for satellite internet customers. That is because DSL and cable have an almost unlimited amount of bandwidth available, where each satellite has a certain limited amount.
- Benefits to the consumer. The benefit of the fair access policy to the consumer is a protection of the majority from the minority. A very small percentage of users make are involved in these high download activities for extended periods of time. The amount of activity happening on the system at any given time can affect the download speeds of everyone else in the system. The fair access policy prevents the high end users from hogging the bandwidth on a continuous basis.
- Penalties. If an individual account has exceeded their limit of usage, the penalty is not monetary, it is instead a reduction in your access speed from high speed to something closer to a dialup speed. If you love your high bandwidth activities, losing them for a period of time will generally make you a little more selective about how you use that privilege.
- High usage activities. The types of activities that generally require the most bandwidth are video and audio downloads, online gaming, and large file sharing, such as high resolution photos. Again, it is the user who does this in a high volume, such as ten videos a day or 50 songs a day, etc that might need to be concerned about exceeding their limit.
- Off-peak hours. Some satellite internet providers include a provision in their fair access policy for what is considered ‘free download hours’. These are time periods where your downloads can be done at full-speed without counting towards your limit. They are usually a period of hours sometime between midnight and early morning when overall internet usage is at its lowest levels.
- Types of thresholds. Not all satellite ISP’s have the same types of thresholds. Some providers may have a rolling 24 hour threshold, which means during any 24 hour period a high usage customer has the potential of being penalized for exceeding their limit. Other providers give a 30 day threshold, allowing a customer more flexibility in scheduling their high usage periods.
- Monitoring thresholds. Providers will generally provide customers access to their usage data online under their account information, so they can monitor how close they are to their threshold limits for the current threshold period. However, there are independent software packages that will provide this service to a consumer as well.
- Recovery. Once a user has exceeded their threshold cap, they generally will have their bandwidth speed reduced for a period of time, which is usually referred to as a recovery period. Different rules apply to this recovery period for each provider that will determine how long that period will last.
- Solutions to exceeded limits. If you have found yourself exceeding your limits more than once, there are a few options available for you. If your provider has free download periods, try to take advantage of those hours as much as possible. If you’re stilling finding yourself reaching your limits, it may be time to upgrade to a plan with higher thresholds.
If you are considering a satellite internet provider, you may want to take a look at the different plans available to make sure you choose one that will fit with the type of internet activities you expect to participate in.