Understanding Fair Usage Policy (FUP): The enemy to your consistently stable internet!

The Yoko Ono to your Beatles, the pineapple to your pizza!

Internet Fair Usage Policy (FUP) Nepal Worldink Vianet throttle speed bandwidth
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The internet has become such an integral part of our life ever since its invention. So much so, that it’s widely accepted as one of the basic human needs in modern times. But hey, who doesn’t lose their minds over slow internet speed after being conditioned to a faster connection for a long time. Ain’t that the reality these days? With people stuck at home as per the government mandate to contain the spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), our collective time spent on the internet has soared like never before. And that has been a major headache to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) around the world – including Nepal.

Many of you may have already fallen victim to slowed connection during the lockdown, especially if you’re subscribed to Worldlink. Not a day has gone by in the past week or so where I haven’t encountered a post on Facebook, Reddit filled with rants against the largest ISP of Nepal. Well, there’s this thing called Fair Usage Policy (FUP) which exists and has always existed in practically every ISP in the world to control the volume of internet usage. And with a sudden exponential surge in bandwidth consumption, many users are un/knowingly reaching the threshold, thus being eligible to face the wrath of a throttled internet.

What is FUP on the internet?

Short for Fair Usage Policy, it is a guideline kept in place to monitor the network usage and prevent exploitation or misuse by setting bandwidth (data) cap, such that the entire network runs as intended. Basically, it’s a check against subscribers who try to consume an excessive amount of bandwidth by limiting their speed. Worldlink describes it as follow:

“FUP stands for “Fair Usage Policy” it is practiced by all ISPs worldwide which reserve the right to throttle or cap bandwidth to stop massive usage & misuse of the bandwidth. Such behavior affects other user’s experience who also have equally paid for the subscription.”

Of course, every subscription package of every ISP has a different implementation of FUP. And in this article, we’ll be briefly discussing the ones in Nepal’s top two ISPs – Worldlink, and Vianet for their “home” plans.

Worldlink’s FUP

Worldlink logo FUP internet speed throttle bandwidth slow fair usage policy

In the case of Worldlink, the company has a “Smart FUP” system that monitors and flags a subscriber’s internet usage behavior on a daily basis. The “flag” here is an identifier value that automatically keeps track of the user’s data consumption level. There are 3 types of flags:

S. No. Flag Type When it applies What happens thereafter How to revoke
1 YELLOW After a user exceeds the daily limit – Notify the user

– No change in internet speed

2 RED After a user exceeds three YELLOW flags – Notify the user

– Internet speed temporarily throttled to run at the predetermined fallback speed

– Log into Worldlink’s online services or,

– Use the bandwidth selector on the official app

3 BLACK After a user exceeds three RED flags – Notify the user

– Internet speed throttled (even permanently), with no way to reset bandwidth whatsoever

– Contact Worldlink support staff for further assistance

Well, what are the daily data limits for Worldlink?

Glad you asked. We contacted the company and these are the limits of bandwidth usage (only download data, not upload) within 24 hours and their consequent fallback speed. Here, the fallback speed refers to the speed your internet will run on after you exceed the volume of internet usage based on your subscription package throughout the rest of the day.

S. No. Package Daily bandwidth limit (24 hours) Fallback speed
1 20Mbps 28GB 3Mbps
2 25Mbps 32GB 4Mbps
3 40Mbps 36GB 5Mbps
4 60Mbps 40GB 6Mbps

Many users have also pointed out that the recent slowness in their internet is a result of “oversubscription“. They claim that Worldlink’s excess userbase has now crippled the company’s infrastructure and as a result, it is hampering the performance of almost every single other customer. However, Worldink insisted that their infrastructure is solid as a rock and it’s not an issue of a large number of customers. It’s just that, with almost everyone stuck at their home, data usage is way too high.

After all, the daily bandwidth limit is a calculated value the company has set. And I don’t believe people had the same degree of a complaint before the whole lockdown thing. But now, people have more time to spend on the internet, thus skyrocketing the usage volume.

It is also important to note that fup is applicable only to those users who exploit the daily limit.

Even if you’re one of the victims of slow internet, Worldlink says that the FUP throttle is activated only during peak hours (8:00 PM to 11:00 PM). In this time, the fallback speed is switched on instead.

Vianet’s FUP

Vianet, on the other hand, doesn’t have a “flag” system like Worldlink’s that automatically monitors a customer’s data usage on a daily basis. On the contrary, the company checks for any sort of bandwidth exploitation from its users on a monthly basis (Gregorian calendar: A.D.), by taking both – total download and upload data into account.

Package FUP Speed Restriction not applicable Level 1 FUP Speed Restriction Applied Level 2 FUP Speed Restriction Applied Level 3 FUP Speed Restriction Applied
10 or 12 Mbps Unlimited Data Used: Less than 650 GB Data Used: 650 GB – 700 GB Data Used: 700 GB – 750 GB Data Used: More Than 750 GB
No Speed Throttle Speed Throttled to: 6 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 4 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 2 Mbps
20 Mbps Unlimited Data Used: Less than 750 GB Data Used: 750 GB – 800 GB Data Used: 800 GB – 850 GB Data Used: More Than 850 GB
No Speed Throttle Speed Throttled to: 12 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 6 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 3 Mbps
25 or 30 Mbps Unlimited Data Used: Less than 800 GB Data Used: 800 GB – 900 GB Data Used: 900 GB – 1000 GB Data Used: More Than 1000 GB
No Speed Throttle Speed Throttled to: 15 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 8 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 4 Mbps
35 or 40 Mbps Unlimited Data Used: Less than 900 GB Data Used: 900 GB – 1000 GB Data Used: 1000 GB – 1100 GB Data Used: More Than 1100 GB
No Speed Throttle Speed Throttled to: 21 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 11 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 4 Mbps
50 Mbps Unlimited Data Used: Less than 950 GB Data Used: 950 GB – 1050 GB Data Used: 1050 GB – 1150 GB Data Used: More Than 1150 GB
No Speed Throttle Speed Throttled to: 30 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 15 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 5 Mbps
60 Mbps Unlimited Data Used: Less than 1000 GB Data Used: 1000 GB – 1100 GB Data Used: 1100 GB – 1200 GB Data Used: More Than 1200 GB
No Speed Throttle Speed Throttled to: 36 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 18 Mbps Speed Throttled to: 6 Mbps

Are there daily data limits for Vianet as well?

The company also has a three-level FUP restriction, which is based upon the total data used by the customer on their respective internet package. Now, let’s compare the 20Mbps package of both Worldlink & Vianet. In the former, you risk getting throttled if you use up 28GB daily, for consecutive days which I bet is what’s going on these days. On the other hand, Vianet has a monthly data cap. Therefore, I have the freedom to consume 28GB of data repeatedly for at least 16 days (~448GB) before my internet starts getting slow.

Moreover, the spike in usage will obviously not continue on in the long run, which means that a user will not reach or exceed the limit every single day. Because of this, Vianet has the upper hand when it comes to more consistent user experience than Worldlink. I’m subscribed to Vianet myself (40Mbps) and yet to experience any sort of significant fallback on speed.

But hey, i purchased the “unlimited” package. What’s with all the limitation crap?

Well, I hate to burst your bubble but in this case, “unlimited” doesn’t mean what you think it means. You’re not going to get an infinite amount of bandwidth, no way. Bandwidth is an expensive product that ISPs buy and if they start handing it out without any restriction to their customers, it’s only a matter of days before the company goes bankrupt.

What do I do to prevent FUP restriction on my internet subscription?

There are a couple of techniques to ensure you don’t qualify for FUP restriction. They are as follows:

  • As much as possible, avoid unnecessary bandwidth leakage i.e. don’t always stream contents at the highest bit rate/resolution available or download extremely large files at once
  • Frequently monitor your bandwidth consumption level, by going on your ISP’s website or using its app.
  • If you’re someone who simply can’t compromise on bandwidth limitation, then upgrade your subscription to one with higher data volume