BT cracks down on 'broadband hogs'

British telco demands those downloading a massive amount of movies or music to pay up or find another Net provider.

BT is cracking down on heavy Internet users who are habitually breaking its monthly download limit, suggesting that they either pay more or shop elsewhere for their Internet access.

BT has agreements in place with users of its ADSL broadband service that limit them to up to 40GB of downloads per month. However, although the incumbent telecommunications company claims to be relaxed on occasional breaches of this limit--and has no automatic blocking in place once a limit is exceeded--it reports that some customers are taking liberties and regularly downloading up to 200GB each month.

"I think it's fair to characterize these people as broadband hogs. You would have to be downloading pretty much all day, everyday, to manage that level of downloading," a BT representative told

BT has contacted 3,200 customers identified as excessive users. The letters offer customers the chance to pay for their excess bandwidth consumption or seek service from another provider.

Last October, BT sent a similar letter to 1,800 customers, and while "a small percentage" of them agreed to a new payment plan to cover their monster downloads, the majority saw their contracts with BT terminated. The company representative suggested that "it would probably be fair to extrapolate out those results," in terms of a prediction regarding the likely outcome of the current crackdown.

Such high levels of downloading are certainly far from typical for the average person and are likely to indicate a heavy diet of large media files such as music or movies.

If these customers were downloading music, for example, at a rate of 200GB per month, they could nearly be filling an iPod Nano twice over every single day--or 50 times over in just one month. That's approximately 50,000 songs.

Will Sturgeon of reported from London.

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