CenturyLink DSL usage caps cause subscriber confusion

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) may be following the growing trend where service providers place usage caps on bandwidth consumption, but the telco's policies are anything but clear for its end users.

According to a thread in the Broadband Reports forum, a number of subscribers said they were confused about the bandwidth caps.  

Some users were given a warning they went over their cap, while other "heavy users" got no warning or were told the service provider does not implement usage caps.

One subscriber said their service was disconnected for consuming 250 GB for various months; another said that he was told "they absolutely don't have a data cap even on their slower speeds."

However, CenturyLink does have what it calls an excessive use policy plan in place. Following AT&T (NYSE: T), Frontier (Nasdaq: FTR) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC),CenturyLink implemented a 150 GB cap on users with connections of 1.5 Mbps or lower and a 250 GB cap on users who have a 2 Mbps connection and above last February.

"CenturyLink's Excessive Use Policy includes limits of 150 GB for residential high-speed Internet service plans with speeds of 1.5 Mbps and below and a 250 GB limit for service speeds above 1.5 Mbps per month," Mark Molzen, a CenturyLink spokesperson told Broadband Reports. "The limits do not apply to business-class lines, uploads or assess overage fees."

The service provider added that it does not charge overage fees

Any users who have gone over their limit will get two to three pop-up messages encouraging them to upgrade to a faster speed tier.

Usage caps is not just a U.S.-based telco phenomenon, however. Cable operators and Canadian telcos have also implemented their own usage caps and Usage Based Billing (UBB) plans.

As reported by FierceCable, all of the major cable operators, including Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Time Warner Cable and Suddenlink Communications tested some form of UBB in 2012.

In Canada, Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE) and Telus (Toronto: T.TO) have implemented UBB policies on their broadband user base. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) initially allowed Bell Canada to implement a UBB plan on competitive service providers that rent their copper facilities to deliver service to consumers.

To make matters worse, Telus lowered the usage limits on DSL services to 100 GB and 250 GB, for example.

For more:
- Broadband Reports has this article

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