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December 30, 2007

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My suggestion is to inform the FCC about it. The word 'Unlimited' will keep being used improperly until the law says it can't be used unless it really is unlimited.

I sent the following email letter to the FCC regarding this issue last month:
Honorable Chairman Martin,

I have been looking for an Internet-based Voice-over-IP provider and have found a trend between nearly all of the vendors selling packaged "Unlimited" plans. They impose caps on the service thus not making it "Unlimited". From a cap perspective some of them are reasonable 10000-20000 minutes meaning you would have to be on a phone a very long time or using it in way not intended under the plan such as in a call center environment. Others are downright thievery. Some have caps as low as 1400 minutes others simply state that plans are based on the average calling habits of (business or residential) users and they can suspend service, charge you for the 'extra' minutes or force you to upgrade to higher plans. Examples below:

From Inphonex at http://www.inphonex.com/services/business-unlimited.php

* The Business Unlimited Plans are based on the calling habits of the average small office user. Businesses that require multiple users making simultaneous calls or high volume users in the business of making or taking phone calls should use our Business Bulk Plans. InPhonex retains the right to require account upgrade or suspend service if the calling habits are outside these guidelines.

From Teliax at https://www.teliax.com/newaccount/?r=1&cp=default

*(For residential Unlimited) Softcap of 1500 Minutes. 60/6 billing increment.

*(For Corporate Unlimited) Softcap of 2500 Minutes (including 1000 minutes of toll-free inbound, if applicable). 60/6 billing increment.

* A softcap is an average monthly usage target. Teliax will not terminate your service for exceeding these minutes of use, minutes over the softcap will be billed at the rate of 0.02 for Local inbound/outboud , 0.029 for Toll-free inbound, and posted rates for International Long Distance.

From PhonePower at http://www.phonepower.com/Services/VoIP/Detail.aspx?pid=5

* Unlimited Residential Service - Only residential addresses qualify for residential pricing. If a residential line consistently exceeds 2,000 outgoing long-distance minutes within the continental US, it may be upgraded to business pricing following end-user notification. Local outgoing and incoming calls are never charged.
* For a business plan the cap is 4,000 outgoing minutes.

From Vonage (Terms of Service document) at http://www.vonage.com/features_terms_service.php?lid=footer_terms

* Inconsistent Use. *If you use the service or the device in a way that is inconsistent with the normal use for your service or plan, you will be required to pay the rates for the service or plan that would apply to the way you used the service or device.

Or from Vonage's basic subscription page in the small print at the bottom at https://subscribe.vonage.com/plans

* all plans are subject to reasonable residential usage limitations (domestic or international, as applicable)

Many people have wireless mobile phone plans with 2-3 times more minutes per month. So far as I can tell the wireless mobile phone carriers cannot advertise an "Unlimited" plan unless it really is and few do. Other telephone services should have the same standards.

Please consider creating a rule that eliminates the confusion in the marketplace and restores fair competition between all of the various providers and informed choice for the consumer.

Thank you for taking the time to receive and read my comments.

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