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Kogan blames ISPOne for mobile customer woes

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.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

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."

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