Freeserve threatens heavy users

The internet service provider (ISP) said the users, who represent less than one per cent of its 100,000 UK total, were hogging 10 per cent of its network capacity by logging on for an average of 16 hours a day.

Freeserve is emailing the 700 users this week, and will threaten to ban them if they do not modify their online activity. ‘This small minority are abusing the service,’ said a Freeserve representative.

The company wants to move the heaviest users onto its always-on asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) service. It said it remained committed to offering unmetered access.

Under its terms and conditions, Freeserve can kick customers off for misusing the service. Its definition of misuse includes ‘using the service in a manner which makes abnormal demands on the network from a single connection’.

Leading internet lawyer David Engel, of Theodore Goddard, said that Freeserve was within its rights to threaten to ban users that had breached its terms and conditions, but he questioned the wording of the agreement.

‘A contract can be voided by uncertainty, and I think Freeserve should state how many hours usage actually constitutes “abnormal demand”,’ he said.

Freeserve is the latest ISP to crack down on heavy users. Both TFI and Breathe have moved to eject those they blame for slowing down their networks.

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