The term ‘gaslighting’ is often used to refer to the attempt to convince someone that what they are seeing or experiencing is not reality.
Ciaran Handley thinks his work-from-home routine is “normal”. As a commercial engineer, he worked his hours online, then streamed some Netflix in the evenings like anyone else.
Vodafone told him this was “excessive” and then cut his broadband.
He doesn’t understand why. He signed up for Vodafone’s ‘Unlimited Mobile Broadband’ 5G plan. 5G is supposed to be a future-proof service.
But Vodafone told him that going “unlimited” could still get him cut if he went over 20GB a day – a modest amount in an age of locked-in work from home. The operator then tracked down its threat. It was recently cut other customers for the same reason.
For years I have defended the hypocrisy of Irish mobile operators who claim that “unlimited” plans can still be restricted to “fair use”. I wrote at length about the dishonesty when they insisted that these restrictions should not be considered “limitations”.
But Handley’s case is a new level of ugliness. When Vodafone launched “unlimited” mobile plans, the operator made a point of removing the “fair use” restrictions on the plans. This is the ultimate proof that there really is an unlimited plan on the market.
CEO Anne O’Leary emphasized at the launch: “It really is unlimited.
Handley believes her. He trusts Vodafone, Ireland’s largest mobile operator.
“I specifically chose this plan with Vodafone because there is no fair use policy,” Handley told me.
But then Vodafone informed him that there was an “overuse” clause it could put in place to limit his “unlimited” use of data. Furthermore, it can be applied at any rate Vodafone wants – in this case a modest 600GB per month.
I put all of this on the company. It responded with one of the silliest claims I have ever heard from any Irish company about any matter.
I was told “No data limit exists” for unlimited 5G plans. But customers cannot exercise “excessive data usage” on those unlimited plans, or they will be cut off.
How many fingers am I holding up, Winston? You think it’s four, but it’s not four, even though it looks like four. That’s the year.
Vodafone is not alone. Most Irish operators include some version of this game in their terms and conditions.
And they are protected. Ireland’s Advertising Standards Authority says Irish telecom operators are allowed to place limits – sorry, restrictions – on “unlimited” data services, as long as they only cut off or punish a handful of their customers.
Black and white. White is black.
To put it plainly, network management is crucial for any modern operator. Capacity is an expensive and scarce resource. So it’s no secret why Vodafone’s engineering team insists on setting limits.
But Vodafone has to lie? Is it tricking people into buying “unlimited” 5G plans before cutting them off for completely normal usage patterns?
And how confused would we be if the country relied on 5G for its broadband needs?
Cheap streaming runs out
The era of cheap streaming is officially over.
Last week, Netflix raised its flagship price to 17pc, bringing it to over €20 for the first time.
Disney Plus will almost certainly follow suit later this year, while it’s a fair bet that Amazon and Apple will.
It is unfortunate that this is hitting us during a period of the highest inflation in recent decades.
But in the end, the price increase is not unfair.
Production budgets for Netflix and all other major platforms continue to grow: Netflix alone has a current budget of $19 billion, much higher than almost any other platform.
They do not do this in vain. Whether we admit it or not, Netflix and Amazon (and even Apple TV Plus, sometimes) are becoming our first regular ‘channel’ when we turn on the TV, especially if we’re looking Search for movies, miniseries or documentaries.
They simply make more things that we want to see. You’re more likely to see a movie, miniseries, or documentary your friends are talking about on Netflix or Amazon than on traditional TV channels.
This columnist has argued for years: as soon as TV is available on demand, it will take over certain categories of viewing. And that’s exactly what’s happening now, no matter how Ireland’s advertiser-funded Television Audience Measurement (TAM) agency argues the opposite.
There are even glimpses of live sports being tested across platforms. Last week, Apple announced that it would exclusively stream some of the Baseball League baseball games every Friday night in eight countries, including the UK (though not Ireland yet).
Amazon already has exclusivity in some territories for English Premier League matches every December. And apps like Livesport now have the power to stream England’s Champions League and FA Cup matches in Ireland.
So there seems to be less of a threat from the public than giving up on Netflix, although the price increase this time (€2 on medium HD, €3 on mainstream 4K) is greater than most times. previously increased.
It is simply accepted as our ‘main’ television now.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/vodafone-channels-orwell-in-unlimited-data-gaslighting-41437368.html Vodafone Orwell channels in ‘unlimited’ data light