Understanding What is FUP & How You Can Follow It


You might well have realised that although your internet service provider (ISP) gives 'unlimited' downloads, this is primarily attributable to a 'fair usage policy.' There’s no doubt that imposing a reasonable access limit on anything labelled "unlimited" is completely counterintuitive, there are performance factors motivating providers' policies that can affect your internet usage.

But, what does this policy really mean, and how can you ensure you adhere to the policy? We’ve provided a complete guide stating all the relevant information regarding FUPs that you need to know.

What Is The Fair Use Policy (FUP)?

A fair use policy (FUP) is a clause in a broadband provider's agreement that restricts how a broadband service should be used. While they may sound similar, FUPs are distinctively different from data use limits.

A bandwidth quota or allocation is a certain number of data that you can access in any billing cycle, with restrictions (such as extra costs or speed reductions) if you go above the limit.

When you sign up for broadband coverage, the presence of a data cap needs to be made very clear; any network plan will either be branded as unlimited or mention a precise number that states how much data you will access per month.

FUPs, on the other hand, are usually ambiguous and do not define a cutoff. They are intentionally large because they are usually meant to discourage a limited number of users from using a disproportionate amount of bandwidth, which may negatively affect broadband performance for anyone else, rather than imposing limits on all customers.

What Is Defined As Fair

People are sharing internet access. The number of individuals sharing a link is known as the 'contention ratio,' and it can range from one to fifty per side. As a result, if one user is actively downloading a heavy file, it’s most likely that other users who are online will have to bear slow internet speeds.

Fair usage policies restrict the use of one individual over another during peak hours so that the overall performance of the rest of the network is not impacted. Providers prefer to classify users based on use, meaning people who constantly download are classified together.

These limitations are in place to assure that the highest internet quality is accessible to the largest number of consumers. For example, if you have a 24Mbps connection and unlimited downloads, your bandwidth might be severely restricted during peak hours.

This is infuriating for those customers who purchased high-speed packages primarily because of their use habits. This kind of campaign targets heavy users and allows them to obtain super speeds and limitless allowances.

Hence, when comparing ISPs to find the right one, confirm with each ISP to determine their contention ratio and what they consider to be fair use as this will majorly impact the performance of the internet speed you get.

Who Does The FUP Affect?

If you do not use P2P or file sharing applications, you are unlikely to be impacted by the Fair Usage Policy. If you are using peer-to-peer or file-sharing applications, we recommend that you use them responsibly and upload and receive big files outside of peak times.

If you are impacted, you will be notified by your ISP that your use during peak hours is inappropriate and impacts other customers. The email would be sent to your default email address which will provide simple suggestions for reducing your use.

If your use continues to be excessive, your ISP will notify you by email once more to request that you lessen your sending or receiving of big files throughout peak hours. If your use continues to be high during peak hours, they may notify you a third time to inform you that your access will be restricted throughout peak hours for the benefit of all other consumers. This restriction would only be in effect at peak hours, with no restrictions in place during all times of that day.

What Does Acceptable Usage Imply?

If you look at the contract terms, you might find an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). This definition should be used interchangeably with Fair Use Policy. There may also be a separate clause in the contract that states that the connection should not be used for illicit or potentially risky acts like spamming, hacking, or piracy.

It should be noted that in certain situations, a vendor will group all of these words under one heading, so usage limits can be clarified in a subsection of a wider Fair Use or Acceptable Use policy.

FUP Policies For Different Service Providers

Several telecom behemoths, like Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone Idea, have raised their tariff prices. This has made it more important for consumers to closely track their everyday talk-time and data use. Reliance Jio recently implemented FUPs on calls, which ensures that consumers can only make calls to other networks’ users for up to 1000 minutes. If you're curious what these companies' FUP practices are, all of the information is included below.

Airtel FUP

Airtel establishes a monthly data transfer quota, which varies depending on the contract. When you hit your data transfer quota, your speed will be reduced in accordance with your schedule. Of note, your monthly speed/download cap will be adjusted at the beginning of your next monthly billing period.

There are also no extra data transfer quotas imposed by Airtel for the month, allowing you to download as much as you want. Downloads are as unlimited as they have always been.

The FUP applies to all unrestricted data transfer arrangements. After FUP, data transmission remains unrestricted, but at reduced speeds. As previously said, FUP restrictions are placed to ensure that the highest level of broadband is accessible to a greater number of internet users.

Vodafone Idea FUP

The organization also announced the launch of a first flexible data plan for prepaid customers.

Every day from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m., it will have unrestricted bandwidth with no equal use policy (FUP) limits.

The unrestricted data will be provided at no additional expense to users who recharge with the Rs 249 package or higher. In addition, the ‘Weekend Data Rollover' offer will continue to be available to registered customers. As a result, this deal is something of a perk for subscribers, as they could still get both the Weekend Data Rollover option as well as the bonus data.


Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), government-owned telecommunication, will shortly remove the Fair Use Policy (FUP) cap on unlimited prepaid and postpaid packages. Interconnection Use Charges (IUC) for network rates were recently scrapped by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

BSNL's unlimited prepaid and postpaid packages now have a FUP max of 250 minutes each day.

Consumers are billed at the standard tariff plan until the FUP cap is met. Starting January 10, 2021, it would no longer relate to BSNL plan coupons, STVs, and combo coupons with unlimited voice calling advantages.

The elimination of the voice FUP cap would affect all current and new BSNL mobile users in all telecom regions. BSNL has already announced the elimination of blackout days. On events such as New Year's or holidays, subscribers are expected to make more calls and SMSes, and the mobile provider charges consumers according to their base tariff.

Reliance Jio FUP

Reliance Jio Fiber recently launched fully unlimited broadband packages starting at Rs 399 and going up to Rs 8499. These plans have unlimited bandwidth with a FUP of 3300 GB or 3.3 TB. For just a Rs 1500 deposit, Jio will also have a trial version with 150Mbps speed and a 4K set-top-box with connections to the top 10 premium OTT applications.

According to Jio Fiber's amended terms and conditions, the upgraded broadband packages would be limited to 1 Mbps after meeting the FUP cap.

Prior to the introduction of Jio Fiber unlimited packages at Rs 399, broadband packs began at Rs 699 with 100 Mbps speed and also 150 GB of data. Currently, Jio provides 30 Mbps for Rs 399, which is much slower, even though it does provide unlimited bandwidth with a 3.3TB FUP limit.

How To Avoid Violating The Fair Usage Policy

The most straightforward way to stop violating a FUP is to use an ISP that does not have one! Many services do not have a data equal use policy or any other form of data access or speed limits.

Unlimited internet networks that do not have fair use or traffic control (a system utilised to slow down some kinds of traffic) rules are referred to as "truly unlimited." Truly unlimited plans have the fastest speed the line can afford, with no limits to how much you access the internet and no chance of being penalized.

However, don't presume that a broadband service branded as unlimited would not have a FUP. Although providers are no longer permitted to conceal a data cap in the contract terms while calling the service unlimited, they could still have a fair use policy hidden somewhere in the multiple clauses present in the contract. So, ensure you analyse all the details and information regarding your connection before choosing an ISP.

What Happens If You Break A Fair Use Policy?

If you violate their terms and conditions, the ISP will warn you. If it is your initial offence, you can only get a warning; subsequently, you might receive some kind of punishment, like slow network speeds.

The fines for violating a FUP can vary according to the supplier. Read the agreement for more details, but in certain situations, there would be no specifics.

Breaking a FUP could result in:

  • Speed limitation - Your link can be slowed by your ISP. This may only be true for a few hours, but it may last the whole month.
  • Shifting you to another plan - The provider can tell you that you must switch to a separate (and possibly more expensive) package that is better fitted to your needs.
  • Service termination - Cancelling the connection would be a drastic solution that would most likely be used only after repeated violations.

What will happen if somebody else breaks the FUP on your connection?

If you have a broadband agreement in your possession yet share the connection with roommates or relatives, you will be held liable for any violation of the agreement and regulations or other exploitation of the network. The ISP cannot determine who is liable in a home, hence the bill payer will still be the point of connection.

If you've been penalized for a violation and believe it is unjust, call the company directly to check if it can be solved and, if appropriate, file a formal report.

In conclusion, if you're thinking of having a broadband service, make sure you read the fair usage policy or FUP. In India, there are several broadband networks that don't have FUP. You must make it a priority of researching the Fair Use Policy and other broadband advantages.

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