Information about Fair Usage – A number of telephone and broadband packages being offered are described as ‘unlimited’. In this context the word ‘unlimited’ would normally be taken to mean that a subscriber, having agreed to pay a set price, may make as many calls or spend as much time online as he or she wishes.  However, some service contracts qualify the meaning of ‘unlimited’ by stating that it is subject to an ‘acceptable’ or ‘fair’ level of use by the subscriber. This is referred to as a “fair usage policy” in some advertising.

ComReg would like to advise consumers that any provision of a contract which sets usage thresholds, or describes what constitutes ‘fair’ or ‘acceptable’ use, should be clear and unambiguous, particularly where the service is described as being ‘unlimited’.

Usage thresholds or limits should be clearly set out, as should the manner in which they may be updated or amended.

ComReg expects each service provider to implement a clear, transparent and policy for dealing with customer usage above any set thresholds. The policy should set out the rules for contract termination, including penalties, the charges that shall apply for any use above the threshold/limit, and the policy regarding the migration of the customer to other packages, if applicable.

ComReg advises consumers to carefully read the terms and conditions of their contracts and to be aware of the particular limits or thresholds that apply before purchasing.