10 Reasons Fair Access Policies Aren’t Really Fair

Most satellite Internet providers have implemented what they refer to as ‘Fair Access Policies’. These policies limit the amount data that a subscriber can download during a given period of time. The intent, according to the ISP’s, is to keep a small number of heavy internet users from using the majority of the limited bandwidth, thereby slowing the internet usage of other low usage subscribers. There have been a lot of complaints from subscribers about these policies. Here are ten reasons that subscribers have given for calling Fair Access Policies unfair.

  1. Unlimited, should mean unlimited– Internet service packages are listed as providing ‘unlimited’ internet access. However, the true meaning of this terminology is simply that you can access the internet 24 hours a day, but the amount of data you can download, and the speed at which you can download it, are very much limited.
  2. Rolling 24 hour periods – The limits imposed on your data downloads are usually per 24 hour period. Trying to determine when you are going to hit those limits can be very difficult to determine since they are not 24 hour days (the clock doesn’t reset at midnight), but rolling 24 hour periods.
  3. Recovery Time – If you go over your data limit, your internet service isn’t shut off, it is simply slowed down to dial-up speed or slower for a period of time. There have been many complaints that this recovery period of slow speed lasts much longer than the ISP’s say it will, often a full 24 hours.
  4. What’s normal surfing? The policies state that normal web surfing and downloads of software and music should not take you over your data limits, however, many customers have felt that their experience has not fit with that statement.
  5. Behind the times – The limits being imposed as ‘normal’ usage do not seem to be keeping up with the amount of data delivery that users are experiencing with current video and graphic content on the web. Many customers feel the limits should be increased.
  6. Higher price tiers – It is confusing to consumers that they will be penalized for using up too much of the shared bandwidth, YET, they can increase that bandwidth limit by paying more per month. Why is it ok to ‘slow down my neighbors’, if I pay more to the ISP?
  7. Businesses – Business subscribers are allowed to use a much larger amount of data for their higher priced packages. If you can provide them with so much bandwidth, is it really that limited? And if fewer businesses subscribe, then won’t that leave more bandwidth for residences, so that the limits could be increased?
  8. Unlimited subscribers – Instead of limiting the amount data that can be downloaded, why not limit your number of subscribers to the number who can access the internet at the speed you sell to them?
  9. Paying for slow speeds. If subscribers want to increase their data cap, they need to pay more money. Yet, when subscriber’s speeds are cut for periods of time during the month, they don’t get a decrease in their rates. They pay the same amount, even if they aren’t getting the same amount of service each day.
  10. Poor communication – One of the biggest complaints about the Fair Access Policies is that they are not adequately communicated to the consumer prior to the installation. Many consumers have spent time with customer support trying to figure out why their internet speed has slowed down all of a sudden, because they were not fully aware of their data limits and how to track them.

It would be interesting to hear if there are users of satellite Internet service that are thankful for the Fair Access Policies of their ISP. The argument for it of course makes perfect sense. In the end, there is only so much bandwidth to go around to all of the subscribers so the ISP simply can’t afford to let a few people ruin the service for the majority of the users.  However like with most things, it is the consumers who complain that are most likely to have their voices heard.

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