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Money down the drain on unlimited download packages

31st January 2011 Print

New research from has revealed that although over 40% (43%) of British broadband customers pay for a package with an unlimited download allowance, the vast majority don't take full advantage of this feature. This means they could be paying more than they need to for a broadband service that is unsuitable for them.

Of the respondents with an unlimited data allowance, almost 1 in 10 (9%) said they used less than 1GB per month - a tiny amount. The other results were:

21% said they used just 2GB - 10GB per month
14% use only 11GB - 20GB
9% use between 21GB - 40GB.

The majority, 37% don't know how much they download in a month.

Michael Phillips, product director at commented: "What these stats highlight is the significant disparity between what broadband customers actually need and what they are paying for. Whilst the way we use the internet has changed dramatically over the last few years with the launch of online TV and gaming services, the main bulk of customers still use their connection simply for the basics - emailing, shopping, banking and surfing. These tasks really don't require a high level package with an unlimited download allowance.

"Practical understanding of the issue is a big problem. Whilst awareness of download limits is growing, it is still difficult for customers to quantify what they do - as demonstrated by the 37% of respondents who had no idea at all how much they actually downloaded every month. Broadband providers have a role to play here, as a massive 90% of respondents claimed that their service provider does not help them monitor how much they download. Something as simple as providing a free download monitor would make a huge difference, by allowing customers to identify if they aren't making the most of their allowance.

"Customers can make smart broadband switches to cut monthly charges, saving money on unwanted download limits. For example, Sky offer broadband ‘free of charge' for customers of their satellite TV services, but with a low usage monthly usage limit of 2GB. While Plusnet charge only £6.49 for a 10GB without needing to take a bundle.

"A service that isn't being fully utilised is essentially a waste of money. The VAT hike this year has made all households even more aware of the need to trim back on monthly bills wherever possible. I strongly urge any broadband customers who might be overpaying for a service they are not using to really examine their needs and compare their current deal with more relevant, cheaper alternatives.  With potential savings of over £200 they certainly have nothing to lose - and could have a lot to gain."'s top tips for reviewing your broadband package:

1. Track your usage - use a download monitor to identify your monthly usage.  This will give you a reasonable idea of the kind of download allowance you will need.

2. Be realistic - consider your habits as a broadband user. The thought of watching TV online and downloading music may sound great fun but how often will you actually do this? If you only intend to use your connection for emailing and general surfing you will only need a basic service.

3. Compare deals in your area - package availability and costs vary by postcode.  There might be a solution available in your area offering greater savings so use an Ofcom approved comparison broadband calculator ( to check out the best deals.

4. Haggle with your existing provider - they may have a newer, cheaper deal you can move across to without changing supplier.

5. Sign up online - many broadband providers offer additional discounts and incentives if you subscribe online rather than over the phone. Price comparison sites also frequently have exclusive deals negotiated with ISPs so check an Ofcom-accredited site for the best offers.