Around nine out of 10 broadband users don't understand the limitations on their service, research conducted by YouGov for price comparison website uSwitch.com has found.
While 'unlimited' broadband services tend to have fair-usage policies enabling service providers to penalise heavy users by, for instance, restricting their bandwidth during peak hours, the majority of UK broadband consumers remain unsure about exactly how limited their 'unlimited' service really is.
Some 6.2 million UK broadband customers wrongly believe they have a truly unlimited broadband service, according to the survey, and a further 7.5 million do not know what their limit is — making a total of 13.7 million confused customers.
The UK has more than 16 million broadband connections in total.
The survey found six of the nine broadband providers it looked at still use the term 'unlimited', yet do set limits on their packages, while just two of the providers publicise their official limits. The majority of providers are also prepared to cut off excessive users, the research found.
The research also discovered a sizeable minority — estimated at one million — of the UK's fat-pipe consumers have nearly reached or exceeded their limit in the last year alone.
The nine ISPs covered by the survey are AOL, Be, BT, Orange, PlusNet, Sky, Tiscali, Toucan and Virgin Media. The research is based on responses from 11,870 UK adults.