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September 3, 2009

Mobile broadband calculators "ridiculously" inaccurate

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by David Allen

Mobile broadband users risk racking up monthly bills running into hundreds of pounds because operators are failing to properly explain download limits.

Calculators provided to help users calculate how much they’re downloading are “ridiculous”, consumer advice site Broadband Genie claimed.

Virgin Media, for example, estimates that downloading a document will use 0.1MB of data. compared with Vodafone, which estimates a document download at 3MB of data, a difference of 3,000%.

Likewise, Virgin Media estimates a software programme download to use 70MB of data, while 3 estimates this at 800MB.

None of the calculators included video streaming, despite that fact that downloading TV shows over the usage limit could cost up to £100 per hour.

“Usage trackers supplied by the ISPs with their dongles can be incredibly inaccurate,” said Chris Marling, Broadband Genie editor.

“We realise these companies are rivals, but they should discuss this for the good of consumers and be more consistent about how they portray these estimates.

“Usage limits are a key differentiator between products and providers, often being the key to a customer’s choice of a particular deal, so the public need to know they can trust the information they’re given.”

Marling also pointed out that O2, BT, and T-Mobile don’t even offer a usage calculator.

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