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Sky drops download limit and tops satisfaction poll

'Fair use' policy given the chop

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Updated Sky has dropped gigabyte download restrictions on its "Max" package in order to offer unlimited broadband without any "fair use policy" chicanery.

The terms of its LLU ADSL2+, £10 per month product were quietly altered in mid-August to drop the caveats. Limits on downloads for both new and existing customers have disappeared, as Skyuser.co.uk spotted.

Sky's not the first to ditch download limits, but it is among the cheapest (assuming you've got satellite TV). Although it restricts the heaviest users' speeds at peak times, Virgin Media doesn't ration data. The cable network's 10Mbit/s deal, likely to offer similar actual speeds to Sky Max's "up to" 16Mbit/s, costs £16 per month. BT meanwhile punts a package with no download cap, but for £24.99 per month.

Sky's move will likely be the first of many across the industry to make packages more transparent in the coming months. Ofcom's broadband code of practice comes into force in the new year. The rules will mean that ISPs will be required to warn customers when they breach their fair use limit and tell them what the consequences will be. Currently most providers don't tell their customers how many gigabytes are considered "fair", because admitting to a number would mean "unlimited" (fair use policy applies) marketing campaigns would breach advertising regulations.

Ditching the download limit puts Sky Max on a par with another relatively recent entrant to the home broadband game, O2. It offers a near-identical product to its mobile phone customers for the same price. Both firms have made significant inroads by offering better products, bundles and customer service than more established rivals like Orange and Tiscali, who had grown lazy as the market saturated and are now losing subscribers.

Another poll out today showed Sky topping the customer satisfaction rankings. O2 would have edged the number one slot if its sample size had been large enough. ®

Update

Sky sent this statement:

We have removed the Fair Usage Policy (FUP) from our Sky Broadband Max product. Customers have told us that they want "unlimited" broadband to be exactly that, so we’ve acted on their feedback. We believe that we are now the only major broadband provider to offer truly "unlimited" broadband. What this means is that, if you’re a Sky Broadband Max customer, means you're free to download as much as you want, whenever you want.

As well as transparency, we know that customers really care about getting consistent, reliable download speeds. One of the biggest gripes with some broadband providers is the capping of speeds during peak times, otherwise known as traffic shaping. We have a high-capacity network that is designed to carry huge amounts of traffic without congestion. So we’re also making a commitment to customers taking our Base, Mid or Max products that we will not slow down their connection speeds at peak times.

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