Kogan blames ISPOne for mobile customer woes

Kogan blames ISPOne for mobile customer woes

Summary: After a month of speculation, Kogan has blamed ISPOne, the mobile wholesale company reselling Telstra mobile services to Kogan and Aldi, for preventing some high-usage customers from continuing to use their mobile service.

TOPICS: Telcos, Telstra

The launch of Ruslan Kogan's mobile service Kogan Mobile has been dogged by criticism from customers who have been blocked for using what Kogan has said is too much data or too many phone calls in a short time frame, but the company now moved to shift the blame to wholesale provider ISPOne.

(Image: Kogan)

Last month, just three months after launch, Kogan Mobile was forced into a revision of its acceptable use policy for its "unlimited" mobile plans, when a number of customers were prevented from recharging their prepaid plans after using what was considered too much data or making too many calls.

The new policy states (PDF) that users may be cut off if they use more than 400MB per day on three or more days in a 30-day period, or more than 1GB in a single day.

A Kogan Mobile spokesperson told ZDNet that the company has almost 100,000 customers, with around 0.2 percent affected by the block, and revealed that the block was implemented by ISPOne without Kogan's permission.

"ISPOne acted without the authority of Kogan Mobile in preventing 0.2 percent of Kogan customers from extending their access, after their initial access period expired and they had received the services that they had paid for," the spokesperson said. "While this action was taken by the distributor without Kogan's authority, Kogan has taken the step of providing a gesture to these customers in the form of AU$50 worth of vouchers to use at Kogan.com."

The spokesperson indicated that Kogan Mobile is working to resolve the issue with ISPOne and Telstra, the mobile network operator. Before today, Kogan had not revealed whether ISPOne was the company's wholesale provider.

ISPOne told ZDNet it would not comment on the contracts it has with its customers.

ISPOne's approach may reach even farther than just Kogan customers. Recent mobile market entrant Aldi is also believed to be using ISPOne as its service provider, and the company's current acceptable use policy (PDF) looks almost identical to the original policy published by Kogan Mobile. The policy indicates that customers who download an "unreasonable volume of data" or stay connected "for an unreasonable amount of time" may be disconnected from the service.

European-based tech company Medion, which is providing the services with Aldi, would not confirm to ZDNet whether it is subject to the same restrictions as Kogan had been.

"MedionMobile does not compare its Acceptable Use Policy against its competitors, nor does it discuss its competitors' policies," a spokesperson said.

"The product offering is specific to the AldiMobile demographic, so it's not appropriate to draw comparisons. Our Acceptable Use Policy is geared towards identifying potentially fraudulent or malicious activity that may unreasonably interfere with other subscribers to protect the performance of the network for all users."

Both Kogan and Aldi customers on broadband discussion website Whirlpool have also begun reporting that they believe their data speeds are being throttled. The services promise typical download speeds of around 550Kbps to 3Mbps, and a peak download speed of 7.2Mbps, but some customers have reported being limited to 1.8Mbps.

Kogan, Aldi, and ISPOne have yet to confirm whether they are limiting customer speeds, but on ISPOne's acceptable use policy page, the company indicates that it will limit the speeds of certain users or certain applications:

It is known that 5 percent of users account for around 70 percent of data downloaded at peak times. This obviously impacts the majority of users, and as such we reserve the rights to traffic manage specific customers download speeds during peak periods to improve the service for other users.

The network is monitored daily on how much data users download during the peak times of the day. From this analysis, we can identify the small number of users who are trying to download excessive amounts of data over a small period of time and the even smaller number of users who are downloading vast amounts of data constantly during peak times. Both types of behaviour can be at the detriment of service to the vast majority of users on the network. We reserve the right to traffic manage these users during peak times using one of the following policies, depending on the behaviour of the customers in question.

The company also specifically pointed out that "unlimited" plans do not always mean unlimited access.

"ISPOne reserve the right to enforce network management controls to end users on 'Unlimited' plans that are repeatedly within the top 5 percent of the 'Unlimited' plan user base by data consumption during the calendar month, ensuring a sustainable quality of service for all users across our network."

Know more? Contact the journalist here.

Topics: Telcos, Telstra


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • These types of restrictions

    "400MB per day on more than three days in a 30-day period, or more than 1GB in a single day."

    are still not consistent with "unlimited". The ACCC must continue to intervene. "Unlimited" means just that!
  • 6 Gig ... but not really 6 Gig.

    Restricted_access - There was always an advertised limit on data of 6 Gig. But now, as mentioned above in the article, here are limits to how the the 6 Gig is used in the month. For the 'average' user this is really difficult to manage and they shouldn't have to either.
    IMHO, you pay for 6 Gig, you should be able to use it how you want during the month. If you go over 6 gig, then the data should just shut off, or be throttled to 64 Kilo Bits Per Second.

    The main problem (I think) is with calls and ISPOne booting people off for using the service for 'commercial purposes' . eg a business. How the hell can they know if a call is for 'business' or not? Fair enough if you are calling 100s of different numbers in a single day, but many people who are booted off are calling the same number(s) for an 'unlimited' time - that they are entitled to.

    The new Kogan policy is confusing as hell because you dont know if they are talking about Calls or data eg.

    "5.1 (c) You must not attempt to make more than one simultaneous connection to the Service"

    Browsing a web page usually opens up multiple simultaneous connections so in theory, they can boot anyone off that opens a web page on their phone......
  • Unlimited bandied about too much (again)

    Again, we have "unlimited" bandied about far too much. It's not just ISPOne (or Kogan in this case - they are the forward facing customer retailer so THEY are responsible if they can't keep their wholesaler under control - we don't care about ISPOne as a consumer), but multiple other telecommunications providers do the same thing, with small "fair usage" policies buried somewhere deep in the back of their terms and conditions.

    I'm so fed up with this practice. Yes, occasionally they get fined (Dodo springs to mind), but it's fraud in my opinion. White collar crime. They need more than a slap on the wrist. Not only should they get fined, but be forced to compensate the affected consumer generously.

    It's ridiculous. I still cannot believe we've come to a point where it's acceptable behaviour to do this, and if the customer gets trapped by these leeches, it seems the customer is blamed for "not doing their homework".

    Disgusting behaviour.

    Just for the record I DO my homework and haven't been caught out by this, but I'm in the IT&T sector always cleaning up this mess for customers. Over it.
  • It won't change until people contact the TIO

    Consumers might be in a bit of a catch 22 here. The ACCC wouldn't normally get involved until there is an influx of customers contacting either the ACCC or TIO. The TIO would be unwilling to help as this is a prepaid service, that only really leaves the ACCC.

    How many people whom this has affected will contact the ACCC? It's prepaid so they will more likely have a whinge online and then move the number elsewhere.
  • Stop whinging

    Here's the thing. I'm loving the service, and I know there are many others that do too. You can't get anything like it for the price. I don't care if "unlimited" is really "unlimited", if I'm paying less than $30 a month when other plans for similar usage are around $80. I mean, come on.

    If Kogan Mobile or ISPOne goes down because of all the whingers going straight to the government to fix all their problems for them instead of using their own good sense and adapting to the unexpected (albeit I do agree it sucks for those that were denied service extension [NOT cut off as media likes to beat up] before the AUP was clarified, and Kogan's voucher gesture is a good one), then tens of thousands of people enjoying their service will lose out.
    • not whinging its b/s

      no There were plenty of people including myself that were cut off, one afternoon my phone stopped working, calls to my kogan number were met with a message saying my service was disconnected. This is on a prepaid plan with credit...
  • It really makes no sense

    "It is known that 5 percent of users account for around 70 percent of data downloaded at peak times."

    Even if they trim the top 5% of customers, they will simply have a slightly smaller customer base. Then, they will have a new top 5% of customers, who will still account for 70 percent of the data. Unless they can really provide "unlimited" plans, why don't they simply market the plans that can cover all the users, including the top 5%? And if they can't meet those demands, why not have limited plans that have high capacity?

    Basically, they offer "unlimited" plans that turn out to be limited and all our friends warn us that it's dodgy. Now we don't sign up, and they have much lower reach than they could have had.
  • $50 credit??

    I havent even had my multiple service disconnections acknowledged by kogan, let alone a credit from them. When I contacted them regarding the first disconnection, they just closed the ticket and never responded, service was restored the next day but I had no response at all. when I raised a ticket re: not being able to recharge i was advised I was already on the 365 day plan and the ticket was closed. I have only ever recharged on the 30 day plan.