It only takes a limit to hit your pocket

Three in four (78 per cent) people risk incurring additional charges for unknowingly exceeding their download limit according to a new survey* from

  • Three in four people risk charges for unknowingly exceeding their download limit
  • O2 dongle users risk charges of £200 per GB for exceeding the download limit
  • A third of people think download limits are unfair

Data from the UK’s number one comparison site found almost a quarter (24 per cent) of people don’t know if they have a download limit on their internet service, this number rises to almost a third (32 per cent) of women. Of those that claim they do know, over half (54 per cent) of them don’t know what the limit is.

Mobile broadband use (commonly called dongle use) is becoming increasing popular and every major mobile network now offers a dongle package, yet people are unaware of the low download limits that are normally applied to dongle tariffs and are at risk of incurring surprise costs for exceeding them. O2 charge an incredible £200 per GB for exceeding the limit and 3 charges a massive £100 per GB, although both send a text to the user when at the limit, and 3 disconnect the service when additional charges reach £50.

James Parker, manager of mobiles and broadband said; “Dongle users are most at risk of incurring charges from exceeding download allowances as limits on dongles tend to be much lower than fixed line packages. Whilst the portability is great, users need to be aware that a dongles are most suitable for light users, fixed line is a better value option for heavy users.

“Whether you download through a dongle or a fixed line you must be aware of any limits. Someone with a 3GB limit on an O2 dongle could find themselves paying a staggering £200 per GB once they have exceeded it. 3GB per month is roughly equivalent to a few hours of surfing per week, downloading three music tracks a week, watching two hours of video a week (YouTube/ iPlayer) downloading one film a month and spending a few hours a week on Skype**. You’d only need to double that usage to find yourself with a £600 bill from O2.

“The most important thing is to know what type of user you are, dongles with higher limits are available for heavier users which can safeguard against exceeding the limit, but an unlimited fixed line package is the safer option for those planning to download a lot.

“However, limited packages can be the right option for some people, If you are never going to exceed the limit on a dongle they could be the ideal choice. Light internet users looking for a fixed line deal may find a limited package can be better value than an unlimited one and better suit their needs.”

A third (33 per cent) of people agreed limited packages provided a cheaper alternative to unlimited ones, and a quarter (25 per cent) of people realised that limits stop heavy downloaders abusing the network. However, almost a third (30 per cent) of people did think that download limits are unfair.


Mobile broadband (dongles) charges per GB outside of the download limit. Please note that providers do offer a package with a higher download limit for a higher monthly charge.



Out of Bundle Charge


£200.70 per GB (no cap)


£102.4 per GB (cap at £50 before disconnecting)


£15 per GB


£14.95 per GB


£14.64 per GB


No charges.  T-Mobile will advise on a more suitable plan

Sourced by 22.07.2009

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