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What To Do When Your ISP Warns You About Bandwidth Usage

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What To Do When Your ISP Warns You About Bandwidth Usage

It’s the letter or email that no one wants to get from their Internet service provider – the one that tells you, in no uncertain terms, that you are using too much bandwidth. With so many movies, televisions shows and bands to both stream and download, it can be easy to over-consume and be left holding the bag with extra charges or even bandwidth throttling from unhappy ISPs. Let’s take a look at three of the steps you should take if you ever “get served” with this kind of notice.

1 – Find Out Your ISP’s Actual Bandwidth Usage Policy

Some ISPs spell out their rules regarding bandwidth in black and white in your customer contract or on their website, setting strict limits for both downloads and uploads and describing penalties – financial or otherwise – for going above and beyond. Others are more vague, with some making no mention at all of bandwidth restrictions past a general use policy that discusses not sucking down more resources than other users in your area.

Familiarize yourself with the limits associated with your specific Internet package, and make sure they match what the ISP notice mentions. If you can’t find anything, or if your ISP’s policies don’t line up with the “punishment” they have meted out, get on the phone and ask for an explanation.

2 – Ask For Proof

Not every ISP is as diligent about keeping accurate customer bandwidth usage records as it could be. You should always challenge your ISP to back up the claims they are making in their notice with hard data, including a detailed breakdown of the dates and times of all of your downloading and uploading activity. If they can’t provide this, then you’re off the hook.

Taking a peek at this type of bandwidth record can also help you determine if there might be someone breaking into your wireless network and stealing your bandwidth. It sounds far-fetched, but if you receive a notice regarding excessive downloading while you were on vacation, for example, it’s entirely possible the culprit was a third party and that you need to beef up your network security.

3 – Ask For Leniency

Is it your first time getting this notice? Are you a long-time customer in good standing? Did you only go over the limit by a small amount? Ask customer service if they can cut you some slack and make the entire problem disappear, with the promise that the next month won’t see you back to your old habits.

If that doesn’t work, threaten to move your services over to a competitor – preferably one that lists a much higher bandwidth limit than the one you are stuck with. Familiarize yourself with your options as a consumer, and you’ll be dealing from a position of power with your ISP’s representatives.

Author Jason Lancaster works with InternetServiceProviders.org, a website that connects consumers with cable Internet providers and lists Texas Internet service providers online.

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