Fair Data Usage Policies go by a number of different names, such as Fair Access Policy, Fair Usage Policy, etc. but they all strive to address the same issues for data usage on a wireless network. You can go out on the web and search for any of these terms and get back a wealth of information about them and the various companies that institute them. They all have a single minded goal of trying to make sure that there is sufficient bandwidth for data access on a wireless network.
The issue that they are attempting to resolve with these policies is to address the small but select group of people who attempt to utilize as much bandwidth as possible far in excess of the average user. Some are now saying that it is the top 5% of the worst offenders who are causing much of the problems where it impacts the vast majority of users attempting to access data. As an example, you can imaging multiple people in a small business downloading movies nonstop to their computer to take home and use later. Those few people would be impacting the performance of the office network during the time of the downloads. The same situation applies to wireless networks.
As a result, these various policies have been enacted in an effort to address those that have been labeled as “bandwidth hogs” and are impacting the general population of wireless members. There are a number of ways to address this situation and the most common one appears to be the idea of restricting the speed at which downloads can take place in an effort to share the entire network.
In this situation, they establish some level that the vast majority of people would not exceed, such as 10 GB as an example. The actual number varies and quite often is never stated so that it gives carriers much more flexibility to administer. When a user exceeds that established level, all data access beyond that amount would be restricted or throttled for that heavy use individual. This would only remain in affect for the remainder of the billing month and at the beginning of the next billing month, the speed would return back to normal. This process would repeat itself when that person exceeded the established threshold.
T-Mobile USA has recently implemented this kind of a Fair Use policy by saying that they provide for unlimited data usage, but when you exceed the threshold level, they restrict the speed of the data access. T-Mobile has recently established tiered data plans and when you exceed your tier, things slow down for the rest of the billing month. T-Mobile in the UK establish a Fair Data Usage policy last year.
Others like AT&T, have taken a different approach and established tiered data plans, but if you exceed your plan maximum, they will begin to charge you for each GB that you exceed it, generally at $10 per GB over. This is to try and use additional charges to deter heavy usage versus slowing down the speed of the data. This requires that the mobile device user pay attention to their usage and be responsible for it. AT&T will send emails as people approach the top of their tier.
There have been growing concerns about data usage because of faster phones and the growing number of tablet computers. For now, the solution is to impose Fair Data Usage policies so that everyone can have access to data.