Bandwidth hogs spoil the unmetered party

ISP users surfing overtime have meant breathe having to kick 500 off its service

Surfer abuse continues to dog the free Internet service providers as ISP breathe is forced to kick 500 users off its unmetered service Thursday.

The popularity of unmetered services has caught many ISPs by surprise. Earlier this month LineOne abandoned its unmetered offering altogether and other providers have complained that some users are abusing the system and leaving their PCs on 24 hours a day. Breathe launched its one-off £50 service back in April but has found that a minority of users are spoiling the party for the majority.

"We are talking about extreme levels of use," says chief operating officer Sean Gardner. "It was a difficult decision but we decided to refund 500 users their money for the good of the majority. I hope that was the right decision."

Despite using an automatic disconnection system breathe found a small number of customers were getting round this with auto redial software. One user managed to use his Internet connection for 29 hours a day -- by putting two lines through one number. Gardner believes the ISP had little option but to boot off the bandwidth hogs. "The behaviour of the few was seriously affecting the service of the many," he says.

Breathe is planning to launch a new subscription-based unmetered service in August, charging users £5 a month for off-peak use and £10 a month for unlimited use. This time round Gardner intends to be a little more cautious with the marketing.

"When we said unmetered we didn't mean that people could leave their PCs on seven days a week, 24 hours a day," he says. "I guess we have to be clearer on communication. There is a spirit to this agreement and it is quite plain that six hours a day is a maximum."

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