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Wi-Fi network limits 'unlimited' access package

All you can eat as long as you don't eat more than 1GB

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European Wi-Fi hotspot network The Cloud has made good on its promise to introduce an all-you-can eat wireless internet access tariff. Commit to spending £12 a month and you get "unlimited" internet connectivity, or you can buy it by the week on a pay-as-you-go basis, again for £12 a pop.

The Cloud uses the word "unlimited", but we don't. A glance at the service's terms and conditions reveals that a "fair use" policy applies: users can send and receive together no more than 1GB of data in any given month or week, depending on whether they go down the subscription or pay-as-you-go payment route.

A spokesman for The Cloud told us the limit was enforced to prevent the service - dubbed Ultra Wi-Fi - being used for commercial purposes, for which read 'running a server'.

The Cloud announced its plan to offer an "unlimited" service in May this year, and it's about time. Up to now, the company has charged £5 an hour to access any of its 7,000-odd hotspots, and other providers charge much the same amount.

3G has never really challenged hotspots for connectivity speed, but the arrival of HSDPA technology, which boost 3G download speeds significantly may quickly change that, particularly since so many HSPDA phone can connect to laptops by Bluetooth to operate as a modem.

HSDPA coverage will be limited, however, and The Cloud also said today it was activating the first of its nine planned city-centre Wi-Fi "hotzones" - a series of overlapping hotspots, essentially. The first is in the heart of Manchester, and similar zones in Birmingham, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham and Oxford, along with the London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, and Islington, will all go live this summer. September will see a City of London zone go into operation, The Cloud said. ®

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