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back to article GiffGaff boots freetards off mobile network

People-powered mobile phone network GiffGaff is debating how best to curb excessive data use, while kicking off a few customers considered to be really taking the biscuit. GiffGaff has always offered unlimited data with its "goody-bag" tariffs, which start at a tenner a month, and unlike competing networks it has never imposed …

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Surely...

...connecting a smartphone to a TV IS tethering, in the sense that you are not consuming the content being downloaded on your phone but on another device that's using the phone as a means of accessing it?

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Not necessarily tethering though, tethering is where youre using the mobile as an internet modem, either cabled or wi-fi, with the other device accessing data via it.

If you connect your phone to the TV via a video connection, be it HDMI, composite or USB, then its not tethering.

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Giffgaff do make it clear that...

...Goodybag data use is for use on your mobile phone and that it cannot be connected to any other device:

"5.13. In addition to our standard terms and conditions, all usage must be for your private, personal and non-commercial purposes. You may not use your SIM Card:

a) In, or connected to, any other device including modems, dongles or any other way to connect to a PC (unless you are on a gigabag plan)

b) fraudulently;

c) in such a way that adversely impacts the service to other giffgaff customers; or illegally"

They don't specidically use the term "tethering", so it isn't limited to *just* connections to a PC.

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Stop

I think you are missing the point.

If you connect a mobile to a TV, all you are sending to the TV is the VIDEO signal.

It is still 100% exclusively the MOBILE that is using the bandwidth.

When you connect your PC to your monitor, it doesnt send the picture via the internet, does it?

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And you are still...

....connecting "to another device" - it's got nothing to do with whether that signal goes over the internet. You are still breaching the Ts & Cs - you want a plan that allows that, then get one of the fixed amount Gigabags that GG offer, which are still very reasonably priced.

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Silver badge

TV?

I have watched an iPlayer programme on my phone before now. Admittedly I wouldn't make a habit of it, and it wasn't one where the video was that important (the audio stream had most of the relevant content), but that once it was convenient. However, it was connected over Wifi at the time, given that 3G coverage is non-existent in my hou-se, and even GSM is almost so.

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@Number6

If you are consuming the data *on your phone*, then there isn't a problem under a GG Goodybag - only if you connect that phone to another device.

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Connecting to another device?

Surely then that also includes the following :

Headphones

Chargers

Bluetooth Keyboards

You could probably include cases as another device which is connected.......

....just saying.

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No, the TV is not processing the data, the phone is using the data. The TV is simply a second Mini-HDMI connected moniter.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And you are still...

By your definition, I could be banned for using headphones.

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Stop

Nope

You are still consuming the content on the phone.

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WTF?

Re: "You are still consuming the content on the phone."

Er, no, you would be consuming the content on the headphones.

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Gold badge

It is tethering. The phone data package is intended to be used by a phone. The second you link your phone to a more powerful device then you're tethering.

Giffgaff have another goodybag package for people wanting tethering or tablet browsing.

But of course we all know that Android users like to boast about using their Wifi hotspot functionality against the T&Cs of their operator.

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Tethering is routing the network traffic of a device through your phone. Your phone then becomes a 3G modem and therefore you're using your phone for mobile broadband which is a different use case and more bandwidth hungry.

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@Giles Jones - Which isn't the point

...since as noted above tethering is specifically not mentioned but connecting to another device is.

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Headphones!

If you play music on your phone and use headphones are you consuming the content on the phone or on the headphones?

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WTF?

@nichomach

so now you are saying that a phone operator has the power to put in its T&Cs how you connect your phone to consume content? When you run a TV screen off your phone, the only thing the TV is consuming is the battery and video signal. it does NOT influence the consumption of data. GiffGaff T&Cs only stipulate against mobile DATA connection. I don't understand why people find this so hard to comprehend. Whether you watch iPlayer on the train on your phone or connected to your TV at home, you aren't 'connected to another device' in terms of DATA usage.
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Data usage

The thing is, if you are connecting to a TV, while not strictly tethering, and the TV itself isn't consuming any of the data. You will not be using the same amount of data, as you would be if you were not connected to the tv. For example. Not connected to the TV... Emails, youtube, spotify, web browsing... all (fairly) data light activities. Connected to TV....streaming iPlayer, downloading vids from love film / netflix... all much higher usage activities. And yes, of course you /could/ perform those higher usage activities while not connected to a TV (or other type of external monitor), but you are unlikely to, due to the issue of trying to watch a film (or similar) on your 5" screen
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How about...

...for the sake of arguments sake, we forget about watching it on a TV. We have phones now with quite high resolutions. Watching the same resolution video stream on the phone's screen will chew the data up at the same rate and will still get you into the same amount of trouble.
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Anonymous Coward

As stated in T and C

D@v3, I don't think anyone's saying that there are not ways to use a lot of data by streaming the content your phone downloads onto another device for consumption. The thing is that the T and C do not restrict that usage. It's clear they intend to restrict the usage of their SIMs as modems, and they would probably prefer that you didn't stream ipayer onto your TV all day, but unless they have restriced the iplayer streaming (which the passage posted above does not show that they have done) then they should allow people to stream iplayer onto their TV. Rather than removing people for violating terms related to devices connected to phones, they changed their T and C so that the service is for limited internet use (without an expressed limit, apparently) and then started to remove people who exceeded the limit.
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I think it comes down to where the data is being processed. If you are using an iPlayer app embedded on the TV, then the mobile is not consuming the data - the TV is, as that is where the data is being processed - the phone is just routing it if you're doing something like the iPad screen sharing stuff, then thats being consumed on the mobile device, rather than the TV.
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Silver badge

I YOU SAY UNLIMITED THEN......

stick to unlimited, how on earth can they be surprised that people who sign up for unlimited data use unlimited data?

Then they change the rules!

They must have had their heads in a dark place if they couldn't see this coming. Where was their business plan?

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They're not changing the rules...

They're applying them. Data usage on goodybags has always been exclusively for use on the handset as their Ts & Cs have made clear, and has always been dependent upon not adversely affecting other users. A handful of people are taking the mick, and GG are doing something about it. Good for them. As someone who's a GG customer, and has been for some time, and who sticks to those rules, that's fine by me.

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WTF?

What rule?

They're not necessarily applying the rule you posted above. That relates to the SIM being put in or connected to another device, and it's specifically a PC that they mention, not a TV. If someone sends video to a TV from a phone then the TV is no more connected to the SIM than a pair of headphones is if they send audio to a pair of headphones. Did they ask the 1% what they were doing with their SIM card, or did they just cut them off? What if they have projector phones, is that Ok with you?

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WTF?

Forked Tongues!

Why is El Reg labelling paying GIffGaff customers Freetards?

Failing to understand the meaning of the word unlimited is no excuse for GiffGaff or the author of this article!!

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FAIL

Failing to read GG's terms and conditions

is no excuse for publishing ignorant and inaccurate rants either, but they seem to be letting you get away with it. GG allow unlimited data usage on goodybags for use *on the handset*. Connect that handset to another device which will be accessing the data and you breach the Ts & Cs, end of. If you want a tariff which allows that sort of usage, they offer Gigabags of varying fixed sizes which allow usage in dongles, tablets, laptops, tethering, whatever you want.

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WTF?

Giff Gaffe?

Why would I read GiffGaffs T&C's when I'm not even with them?

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FAIL

Then don't

spout a load of ignorant crap about them? Not hard, is it?

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Why would he read them when you didn't?

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Anonymous Coward

"Connect that handset to another device which will be accessing the data and you breach the Ts & Cs, end of. If you want a tariff which allows that sort of usage, they offer Gigabags of varying fixed sizes which allow usage in dongles, tablets, laptops, tethering, whatever you want."

So don't plug in your headphones if you use streaming music services then, as that is another device under the T and C so bye bye account!

"GG allow unlimited data usage on goodybags for use *on the handset*."

Plugging your phoneinto your TV is still using the data on the handset, the data is then changed before its sent to the tv so its not the data you got from the internet, its called decoding.

"is no excuse for publishing ignorant and inaccurate rants either"

Might want to look at the accuracy of your own rants, and your staunch defence of this might make people dig a bit deeper into why you are defending so militantly.

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I'm defending this, since

I AM a GiffGaff customer who uses data on my handset and would like to keep the service that I have. Like the vast majority of us. I've made that abundantly clear. I'm forced to wonder why you're so staunch in your defence of people who are abusing that service and endangering its provision for the rest of us. Got caught, did you?

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Then don't call it unlimited

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "unlimited" as

unlimited

Pronunciation: /ʌnˈlɪmɪtɪd/

adjective

1 not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent:

offshore reserves of gas and oil are not unlimited

Mathematics (of a problem) having an infinite number of solutions.

2 (of a company) not limited.

But it seems the marketing people at telephone companies have a different idea of what "unlimited" means.

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Failing to have a clue what you're talking about does not excuse your post

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WTF?

Read it again

If you did read it then you'd see that section 5.13 refers to SIM cards being used in modems and sending internet packets from the SIM. It does not rule out using a headphone connection to send audio data from the phone, or using an HDMI connection to send video data from the phone. What if your phone comes with a hands free kit, which is only any use when "connected to the SIM" (via the headphone socket). Should those users have their contracts torn up?

This "unlimited" service is being abused by the people who are limiting it, not by people who plug headphones, amps or TVs into their phones. If they want to limit the service then they should have the balls to sell it as a limited service. End of.

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jonathanb

On GiffGaff you are NOT limited in terms of number, quantity or extent of your *consumption* of data. You *are* restricted as to the means by which you may consume it.

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Anonymous Coward

Means and limit

You're right about restricting the means by which the data is consumed, but the terms do not exclude people who connect a TV to their phone and send the pictures to the TV. It's obvious from 5.13 that tethering is not allowed, but that section does not ban audiovisual cables. You're also wrong about the quantity of consumption not being limited. Just read the article - it says that they've limited the consumption!
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Stop

The article is incorrect...

And the section in the Ts & Cs states "in or connected to any other device"; it goes on to state "INCLUDING modems dongles or any other way to connect to a PC", but the word "including" is not exclusive. In other words, modems, dongles and other ways to connect to a PC fall within the category of prohibited devices, but that category is not restricted to those.
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Big Brother

RE: Forked Tongues!

You're assuming that they failed to understand the meaning of the orginial terms when they offered UNLIMITED DATA, a.k.a. unlimited bandwidth use, as a means to gain subscribers. They understood completely what "unlimited" means, and I have no doubt that once they had atttracted a large number of people under contract they planned this move to kick off those who took them at their word and used their devices with no thought to how much data they were consuming. Why should should the consumer have been worried about their bandwidth use? Unlimited means exactly that. Check the dictionary.

What people didn't read was the fine print which states that GG had the "right" to unilaterally change the terms any time they wanted, and without recourse by the consumer. But, to do that and not look like the orge they ae, they had to denigrate those who took the original contract at face value, hence the term "freetard". That term is totally misleading, and in fact is slander. The customers who took them up on their offer of unlimited data were PAYING for that plan. How could it be free? How the data is used AFTER the packets arrive at the phone in no way increases the bandwidth. But, "journalists" acting as corporate shills, and folks who assume that someone else using their plan the way it was offered somehow affects their own use of the service, want to "name and shame" those who do understand what "unlimited" means? The CULPRIT here is GG, who deliberately oversubscribed the bandwidth they purchased from O2, KNOWING that in the near future they would pull the rug out from under them, along with a spat of name calling to make the consumer look like the guilty party.

The shills I understand. Why some consumers want to behave like North Koreans and behave like everything GG or the shill says is true.

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It can't be that difficult to regulate speed someone gets... T Mobile's new tariffs are 'unlimited' in the same way. You get X amount of Meg, go over that, and your speed disappears.

This change forced Tesco to change all their marketing for TMobile to show the fair use figure as the data allowance, to prevent them giving misleading information to customers...

My suggestion to GiffGaff is to :-

Publish how much data the individuals in the 1% are using....

Publish their 'fair use' limits

Allow users to *easily* see how much data they are using...

Meanwhile, someone (Ofcom, OfFT, whoever) should start looking into the disproportionate (IMHO) costs for Broadband usage over the mobile network... surely bandwidth is not that expensive these days...

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"Allow users to *easily* see how much data they are using..."

That. That right there.

Especially when the best provider you can get in an area offers a 20gig fair usage, at ~£30 per month, throttles anything that streams, such as YouTube. Then phones up threatening to kick you off after you go two gig over the fair usage once in 9 months.

I was under the impression "fair usage" provided some leeway and took usual usage into account, but no, apparently those gigabytes downloaded in the early hours of the morning were having a serious detrimental effect on other users. Yeah.. right.

I should probably call them once a week to find out how much data I've used, I couldn't find it on their site.

/unintentional rant about O2

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Unlimited Limits

That's the problem with "unlimited" data plans when they're not actually unlimited. Companies shouldn't be able to use the word unless they mean it. Why not be open and honest - 100MB, 500MB, 1GB, 10GB per month?

If I was one of the 1% and they gave me that warning, I'd want to know what the limit of the "unlimited" plan was - how can you be in breach of contract if you don't know what the contract is?

Or is this the law of diminishing returns - bollock the top 1% now, then the next top 1%, then the next... Slowly bringing everyone's data usage down and reducing costs, but still maintaining the phantom "unlimited" plan?

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Silver badge
Absolutely agree - you see this time and time again with ISPs offering 'unlimited' plans. Sooner or later they have more customers than their equipment/data plans can handle so the heaviest users get demonised and expelled. It's cheaper than buying upgraded equipment.
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Speaking as a happy gg customer

The way I see it, it's unlimited like the speed on derestricted parts of the Autobahn is. That's to say, go as fast as you like, but if you start making a nuisance of yourself by bashing into others, don't expect the authorities to turn a blind eye. Usual analogy disclaimers apply.

As for the "freetard" bit, well don't tell anyone, but many of us end up effectively not spending anything to get the service as described. That may well have been what the author is referring to.

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Anonymous Coward

How useless.

The least they could do is tell you what percentile of data usage you're in. And why not real-time? This is technology we're talking about. Even that wouldn't be that helpful without some sort of measure of "disproportionality". And should you manage to come up with such a measure you could even build a billing model on that, offering near-free access to that "long tail". That "people's network" idea should extend to showing at least just what the network and you are in for, if not the rest of your fellow people's network people.

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It's a lose/lose situation.

If a company advertises "unlimited data," then scolds the top 1% of users for using 30% of the data, everyone is up in arms: "It's not really unlimited! I should be able to stream Netflix every second of every day!"

On the other hand, if a company is up front about having a cap on their data, and are very clear about how much data is allowed before you are cut off, billed extra, and/or publicly humiliated... everyone is up in arms. "They are just trying to rip people off! See how much they're charging for overages? And they sneak it in, right there in bold print!"

And finally, if a company decides to continue to allow everyone to use as much as they like, but up the charge on everyone a bit to pay for it... everyone is up in arms yet again. "It's highway robbery! Next thing you know they'll charge me to breathe!"

They can't win. Meanwhile, it sounds like this company is actually being fairly sane about it, and not hiking charges or imposing strict cutoffs. Maybe not entirely fair to some, but still, sane.

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Anonymous Coward

So they're now just as bad

as any fixed-line ISP in their lack of transparency with regard to limits.

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Meh

Giffgaff user here

And last month, when I didn't really use Youtube or iPlayer, I didn't even top 1gig, even though I use the internet all the time on my phone. Was usually between a gig and two with some light video usage. Streaming video is the killer for most users.

I suppose if you tether and download you could rack up a fair amount too but never needed that. It's nice to know I could use it in an emergency even though it's a bit naughty but unless you're forced to why would you?

Back to the streaming video, if they put in speed-limits after a certain amount of usage that would likely kill the video. Whatever the reason that would piss off the user no end. Unhappy customers with no contract = byebye.

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'Unlimited'

I seem to remember reading somewhere on the GiffGaff site that although they called their data allowance 'unlimited' there was a limit beyond which they reserved the right to let you know/kick your arse/tell you to go away. For some reason the figure of 150GB/month sticks in my mind. That's an awful lot of data...

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