Business internet solutions have never been more reliable than today. Broadband speeds are getting better all the time. You get consistent and trustworthy connections to pull you through the workday. And, you are free to use as much data you want.
Yet it’s also true that the number of internet users has grown exponentially. Many people sharing a fibre or wireless internet connection access it through different devices for a range of activities including emails, conference calls, and VoIP. This high demand can lead to network congestion. In such cases, the connection can become unstable and slow.
This is why a fair use policy (FUP) is so important.
As a new or upgrading customer you will be required to sign a service agreement with your internet service provider. In this contract, the provider promises to deliver a high quality service and you promise to pay them for it. You also agree to follow the rules about the responsible use of internet service. These guidelines are known as the fair use policy.
Why does my internet service provider have a fair use policy?
Even though you’ve signed up for an uncapped and unshaped broadband plan with, say a speed of 10 Mbps, there will be some limit if you consume too much data. Depending on your plan, your provider will assign you a certain threshold, for example 1000 GB for a 30 day rolling window period.
Exceeding this threshold results in slower internet speeds during peak times — from 10 Mbps to 5 Mbps — to ensure you use a “fair” amount of data. You will continue to experience this speed until the new rolling period starts at which point your normal internet speed will be restored.
How do I know what is fair use?
If you’re using the internet to browse websites, send and read emails, or do occasional video calling, it’s unlikely that your connection will be affected. However, if you constantly stream HD videos, play online video games, or download large files during peak times, you’re taking up most of the bandwidth and the internet will lag for everyone on the network.
If your data heavy activities are always affecting other users, the fair use policy allows the provider to slow down your connection, even if you have not yet reached your data cap. Thanks to this policy, some users’ activity will not halt productivity for others, and everybody in the company can enjoy equal access to service.
What about the acceptable use policy?
The internet service provider’s terms and conditions will also include an acceptable use policy (AUP). The FUP may be known as the AUP, may be part of the AUP, or may be a separate set of rules on appropriate behaviour when using their service.
The AUP mostly stipulates the unlawful, fraudulent, criminal or otherwise illegal behaviour not allowed on the network. These usually include things such as spamming, hacking, and piracy.
So, where a FUP is in place to help your network perform at its peak ability, the AUP protects the internet service provider and your business from harmful activities while holding perpetrators responsible for their actions.
How to stay compliant
You may not have to worry about the fair use policy if your business is an average broadband user. But, if your uploading, downloading, chatting, streaming and browsing is on the heavy side every month, your service provider will at some point alert you of your excessive data usage and remind you of their fair usage policy.
One solution is to ask employees not to perform data heavy activities when everyone else is connected to the internet. Another is creating your own internet use policy that allows only job-related online activities at certain times during the day or block sites and downloads that do not contribute to productivity.
Fair use policy and acceptable use policy are simple concepts yet some companies don’t take the time to understand what they mean until the need arises. They are not some hidden catches in the fine print but are designed to improve the experience for all users.