Legal Question in Technology Law in California

Internet Service Provider - Excessive Usage!?

Hello, recently our ISP has limited my bandwidth. I

went from 6mbit to 512kbit. They said I was an

excessive burden on their network. The usage that I

was using was only 160GB monthly. They mentioned that

during peak hours I was making it hard for their

other customers to use their internet. They also

mentioned that I was in the top 15 out of 50,000+ of

their customers and top 3 in the two areas arond me.

My father told me that the ISP is illegally

advertising bandwidth which they cannot ive. He said

that an ISP must be able to provide all users with

their max bandwidth at one time therwise they are not

fulfilling their end of the contract. The bandwidth I

was consuming was totally legal. There are four people

in the house and we all use

Netflix quite a lot. They had supposedly put up a

100GB monthly limit which is not mentioned in

either the contract or anywhere on their site. My

question is, is there anything I can legally do to get

my internet connection speed back up to 6mbit? I am

tired of my ISP but I am not able to change. No others

in the area.

Asked on 6/26/09, 7:27 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Gordon Firemark Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark

Re: Internet Service Provider - Excessive Usage!?

Your ISP is probably within its rights to do this. You'd have to go into your contract with the company, but I'd bet that they include a right to throttle your bandwidth if your usage is excessive and/or disrupts other users' experience.

I have heard that many ISPs are now engaging in this practice for users who are downloading large volumes of video programming, for example.

Typically, they give a few warnings before reducing your bandwidth. If they did not do so for you, you MAY be able to persuade them to reinstate you, by promising that your usage will be within acceptable limits in the future.

By the way, your father is NOT correct. Read your contract carefully.

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Answered on 6/26/09, 5:20 pm
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Re: Internet Service Provider - Excessive Usage!?

What you have described is called ISP over-subscribing, and is a kind of fraudulent advertising that may be punishable as a violation of the CA Business and Professions code. The remedies include penalties, interest and attorney fees.

If they did not clearly describe and provide you notice of such usage policy, bandwidth throttling and speed reduction in their Terms Of Service and contract with you, then they can't justify what they are doing.

Customers must receive 30 days notice in writing prior to any policy and service changes, per FCC rules. Violation of that gives you the right to refund for that 30 day period.

Now, if you are serious about pursuing your remedies, feel free to contact me. It would be of benefit to you to enlist any other subscribers you know with similar complaints.

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Answered on 6/26/09, 5:44 pm

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