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Airtel and Jio are renaming data caps and misleading consumers

router, internet

When Jio announced "truly unlimited" wireline broadband, many naive people -- myself among them -- were quick to assume that words had meaning, that telecom operators respected the basic reality of language, and that this would be big for competition in the broadband industry. Then again, the devil is always in the fine print. Both Airtel and Jio, in their respective terms & conditions, say that these "unlimited" high-speed plans actually have a data limit of 3.3 terabytes. Gizbot was among the publications that first spotted this discrepancy. So essentially, both companies are misleading customers with their plans by inaccurately stating they are 'unlimited', and concealing deep in their company's literature what they call a "commercial usage" limit. So it turns out that instead of challenging the competition, Jio was merely in lockstep with it; Airtel has had the 3.3TB limit for a while, even as it put out a press release this weekend touting its "unlimited" plans. FUPs are disappearing into the fine print This isn't new in the wireline broadband industry; Fair Usage Policies, or FUPs, have long been in place to slow down data speeds after customers use a certain amount of data. This age-old practice is essentially a data cap, but instead of ending internet access, ISPs slow it down after. What is new here is that Jio and Airtel, two of the largest telcos in the country, seem to have determined that communicating this limit is no longer necessary. Even in the US, whose fixed-line…

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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