Telewest learns from NTL's broadband faux pas

After watching the poor publicity suffered by its rival, Telewest is determined that if it ever brings in bandwidth limits it won't handle it the same way

As the furore over NTL's controversial broadband bandwidth limits rumbles on, Telewest is watching and learning from its rival's discomfort.

And -- while it isn't ruling out the possibility of following suit in the future -- the word from Telewest is that if it did implement any such restrictions it wouldn't simply alter the terms and conditions of an existing broadband package.

"We've no plans at this stage to bring in any download limits," a Telewest spokesman told ZDNet UK, adding that it certainly wasn't something that could be ruled out in the future. "If we were ever to consider such a move, we would try to learn from the customer feedback surrounding NTL, and look at other options."

The customer anger that first erupted last Friday, when NTL altered the terms and conditions of its broadband service to limit customers from downloading more than 1GB of data per day, shows no sign of disappearing.

Some disgruntled customers have told ZDNet UK they are considering changing to another broadband ISP, and according to reports some users are planning a mass cancellation, possibly as early as this Friday.

On Monday NTL apologised for the way news of the change was released, and released more details, but this wasn't enough to end the opposition to the move.

According to analyst firm Jupiter Research, such data limits will be the rule, not the exception, by the end of 2003. Jupiter said this week that peer-to-peer file-swapping is already putting a heavy burden on broadband networks, so many ISPs will decide to implement some form of bandwidth restriction.

If Telewest does take this step in the future, it could decide to offer a cheaper but limited broadband service, as well as a more expensive and unlimited package. If so, customer consultation is likely to precede any decision.

"We certainly won't just sneak it out on a Friday afternoon," joked a Telewest insider.

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