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NTL has been stunned by the outcry from its broadband customers over the cableco's decision to cap usage of its broadband service to 1 gigabyte a day.

The announcement was sneaked out on Friday but caused such an uproar that senior execs have been forced to step in and clarify the cableco's position.

A protest site set up on Friday calling for customers not to pay their NTL bills until the matter is resolved, has already received more than 30,000 hits and 100s of emails from angry users.

In a poll of 760 punters on the cableco's own pet nthellworld.com site, half said they planned to ditch NTL and find another broadband provider because of the cap.

Others argue the cap defeats the whole reason for having broadband and are looking at ways to get NTL to overturn its decision.

However, in an open letter on nthellworld.com, ntl:home MD, Mr Hussain admitted that the cap was "poorly communicated" but insisted that it would stay.

In a Q&A the company said: "Our objective is only to limit very frequent or persistent heavy network use that can impact other customers. Therefore we will ONLY contact customers who exceed the daily data limit for three or more days in any consecutive 14-day period.

"If you occasionally exceed your data limit, it will not be a problem. Remember our goal is to give freedom and easy usage to our customers. This rule ensures that you have peace of mind and that we are able to reduce the unfair prolonged usage by a small number."

Indeed, NTL insists that the limit has been imposed more as a guideline. It is not trying to penalise "ordinary" users. Instead, it wants to target persistent abusers of its broadband service, many of whom, its believed, are running businesses on what the cableco insists is a domestic service.

It's still too early to say whether NTL has managed to appease its hacked-off punters. ®

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