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Peru: Reactions to Changes in Internet Contracts with Telefonica

Image by Flickr user nicolasnova used under the Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.

A few days ago [es], a large number of tweets from users in Peru appeared on Twitter protesting against a change in the Internet service contracts provided by Telefonica Peru [es] in the category known as ‘Speedy‘ [es], among which the hashtags #timofonica (ie. ‘scamofonica’) and #speedygate were highly visible. On ryohnosuke.com the reason for such uproar is explained [es]:

ahora, tal cual modem 3G, el internet tendrá una cuota fija mensual bajo pena de reducción de velocidad; eso quiere decir, que nuestra velocidad contratada bajará si nos pasamos de la cuota de descarga que va de acuerdo a nuestro plan de internet. Para hacerlo más claro, tomando el ejemplo del plan Speedy 1MB; si llegamos a descargar 30GB en los primeros 15 días del mes, nuestra velocidad bajará a tan sólo 100kbps (Speedy 100 para los nostálgicos) hasta completar nuestro ciclo mensual; entonces, sufriremos con 100kbps por los 15 días que faltan hasta completar el mes y así renovar nuestra cuota mensual.

Now, like a 3G modem, the internet will have a fixed monthly quota on penalty of a reduction in the speed of the service; this means that our contracted speed will be reduced if we go over the download quota corresponding to our internet service plan. To make this clearer, taking the example of the Speedy 1MB plan; if we download 30GB in the first 15 days of the month, our speed will go down to only 100kbps (Speedy 100 for nostalgics) until our monthly cycle is completed; thus, we will have to make do with 100kbps for the 15 days which remain before completing the month and renewing our monthly quota.

The strange thing about this is that this post appeared nearly a month ago on November 11th. And even stranger, on September 13th, Francisco Canaza from Apuntes Peruanos had already drawn attention to this topic in his post “Neutralidad, acceso a la red y Speedy ADSL de Telefónica”[es] (Neutrality, web access and DSL Speedy from Telefonica). Nearly three months ago, Canaza was already reflecting upon the internet service plans offered by operators and wrote:

En este nuevo sistema, el usuario consigue el uso de servicios de banda ancha, logra el “mero acceso” pero no es libre de establecer el uso que pueda dar al servicio contratado. El servicio contratado, si bien es tecnológicamente abierto a cualquier uso en la Red, termina limitado por las políticas comerciales. Las capacidades del usuario resultan “segregadas” o separadas en virtud a la política comercial del operador. Ese sistema en que la neutralidad de la red termina, ya existe en el Perú y lo ofrece Telefónica del Perú.

In this new system, the user obtains the use of broadband services on the basis of ‘simple access’, but he or she is not free to establish the conditions of use of the contracted service. The contracted service, although technologically open to any use of the Internet, ends up being limited by commercial politics. The abilities of the user become ‘segregated’ or separated by virtue of the commercial policies of the operator.  This system, in which the neutrality of the net is terminated, already exists in Peru and is offered by Telefonica.

Following this, he provides a link to the model contract which appears on Telefonica's website (modelo del contrato). This contract reveals another limitation, highlighted and criticised by Jorge Bossio in his blog Línea de vista: “Speedygate : Prohibido Internet para más de 5” (Speedygate: Internet Prohibited for More than 5):

Si conectas más de 5 computadoras en simultáneo también estaría infringiendo las condiciones del contrato. ¿Cómo sabe Telefónica cuantas computadoras tengo conectadas en mi casa en este momento? ¿Cómo hará esas pruebas y mediciones? ¿Tendré acceso yo a los resultados de esas mediciones? ¿OSIPTEL supervisará que se realicen bien estas mediciones? ¿Qué es una computadora? Recordemos que hoy en día las computadoras están en todas partes. Por ejemplo, en casa podríamos tener los siguientes equipos conectados a Internet usando WiFi en simultáneo: Una PC, una netbook, un blackberry, un iPOD, un iPhone, iPAD, PSP, Nintendo DS, Wii, Camaras de vigilancia, etc, etc … ¿todo cuenta? …

If you connect more than 5 computers at the same time, you would also be infringing the conditions of the contract. How does Telefonica know how many computers I have connected in my house at this time? How will it carry out these tests and measurements?  Will I have access to the results of these tests? Will OSIPTEL supervise the carrying out of these tests?  What is a computer? Remember that these days computers are everywhere.  For example, at home we might have the following equipment connected to the Internet and using WiFi simultaneously: a PC, a netbook, a blackberry, an iPOD, an iPhone, iPAD, PSP, Nintendo DS, Wii, security cameras, etc., etc … does it all count? …

Jesús from X-Blog contributes the debate by giving an example of what these changes mean for a user trying to enjoy the full potential of their connection in “Adiós al Internet tal como lo conocíamos” [es] (Good-bye to the Internet as we knew it):

Juan tiene un plan de Speedy 1000, eso lo hace acreedor a descargar sólo 30 gigas de información. paga 386,75 soles por el servicio. Pues bien, Juan era de los que gustaba ver sus series online, pagó una suscripción a Justin.tv, le gusta pasar los ratos viendo videos musicales en Youtube, incluso conciertos en vivo, y cuando trabaja gusta de poner Grooveshark o Spotify para escuchar buena música. Aparte, pensaba ahorrar y comprarse una TV con acceso a internet y ver lo suyo en su cuarto desde la cama. Ahora, Juan va tener que pensar bien dónde hace clic, qué ver y cómo. De hecho ya no puede comprarse la TV.

Juan has the Speedy 1000 plan, which allows him to download only 30 gigs of information. He pays 386,75 sols [about $136.80 USD] for the service. Well, Juan is one of those people who likes to watch series online, he subscribes to Justin.tv, he likes spending time watching music videos on Youtube, including live concerts, and when he's working he likes to turn on Grooveshark or Spotify to listen to good music. On top of this, he was thinking of saving and buying himself an internet-enabled TV so that he could watch what he liked from his bed. Now, Juan will have to think carefully about where to click, what to watch and how. In fact, he is already unable to buy the TV.

And Hdanniel, one of the first bloggers in Peru, gets down to some serious calculation and explains [es]:

Vamos a suponer que tenemos un grupo de 100 usuarios representando al universo de usuarios de Teléfonica. Todos con el mismo servicio: Speedy 1 Mbps. De estos 100 usuarios: 93 son los buenos que usan el internet “con moderación” y 7 los malos … Considerando que el promedio es 7,5 GB entonces nuestros 100 usuarios descargan 750 GB al mes. Esto quiere decir que para ser un usuario “bueno” se debe usar solo 30 GB al mes, y por tanto si todos los usuarios se portan bien se necesitarán 3000 GB al mes para atenderlos. Vamos a suponer que los usuarios abusivos (?) usan el internet todo el día descargando cosas sin piedad. Como máximo, con 1 Mbps podrían descargar 320 GB al mes. En total todos ellos usarán 2240 GB. Lo cual deja 3000 – 2240 = 760 GB para los usuarios decentes, es decir 760/93 = 8,2 GB para cada uno al mes, más que el promedio general y seguramente muchísimo más que el promedio para el 93 % … (por lo que) se puede llegar a una conclusión sencilla: lo que dice Teléfonica es cuento. El 7% de usuarios NO afecta al resto

Let's suppose that we have a group of 100 users representing the universe of Telefonica users. They all have the same service: Speedy 1 Mbps. Of these 100 users, 93 are the goodies who use the internet ‘in moderation’, and 7 are the baddies… Taking into account that the average is 7.5 GB, our 100 users download 750 GB a month. This means that to be a ‘good’ user, you must use only 30 GB a month, and so if all the users behave well, 3000 GB a month will be necessary to provide for their needs. Let's suppose that the abusive (?) users spend all day on the internet relentlessly downloading.  At the very maximum, with 1 Mbps you could download 320 GB a month. In total, they will use 2240 GB. This leaves 3000-2240 = 760 GB for the decent users, that is 760/93 = 8,2 GB for each person a month, more than the general average and certainly much more than the average for 93% of users… thus, we may reach a simple conclusion: what Telefonica is saying is a fairy tale. The 7% of ‘bad users’ doesn't affect the rest.

Other users expressed their continual disgust with Telefonica, as described [es] in Tecnología Diaria:

Las descargas ya no serán ilimitadas. No es novedad para ninguno el que Telefónica no goce de una muy buena reputación en la red. Se lo ha ganado al querer sacarle dinero a Google por usar su infraestructura, al hacerse autobombo y en general, al reforzar su imagen de que reiniciar el router es la solución a todos los problemas de pérdida de conexión. Ahora encima, nos limitarán las descargas.

Downloads will no longer be unlimited. It's news to none that Telefonica doesn't have a very good reputation on the net as a result of its desire to take money from Google [es] to use its infrastructure, blowing its own trumpet [es] and perpetuating the idea that simply restarting the router is the solution to all connection problems. And now, on top of all of that, they're limiting our downloads [es].

But strangely, Telefonica has not acknowledged receipt of a large number of complaints, aside from several clarifications [es] on Twitter and on the company's Facebook page [es], like the following:

Telefónica te atiende Informamos a nuestros clientes que la reducción de velocidad en Speedy por descargas mayores a 20 GB aplica sólo para nuevos contratos y/o migraciones desde Julio del 2010. Para una mayor referencia, el promedio mensual de descarga es de 7.5 GB y adicionalmente, el 93% de clientes descarga menos de 20 GB al mes.

Telefónica understands [es] We inform our clients that the reduction in speed in the Speedy plan for downloads exceeding 20 GB only applies to new contracts and transfers since July 2010. To clarify, the monthly average download is of 7.5 GB and additionally, 93% of clients download less than 20GB a month.

These and other similar declarations have not satisfied internet users, who are looking to group together to protest and take greater and more effective measures on this matter. There is already a Facebook group ‘We Want Unlimited Internet’ (Queremos Internet ilimitado [es]) and a blog on Tumblr (Internet en Perú : #speedygate [es]) whose intention “is to maintain a single channel of communication. For now we are taking the names of those interested via an online form at  http://ir.pe/internet.html.” Until now, the media has shown little interest in the subject: the daily La República published a brief article [es] and El Comercio did the same through its blog Vida y Futuro [es].

The image used in this post is from Flickr user nicolasnova and is used under the Attribution 2.0 Generic licence from Creative Commons.

1 comment

  • Tony Bryant

    Hey, this is how it is in Australia:
    I pay AU$30 per month for 3GB at 256kbps on ADSL; I get another 5GB free for use between 1am and 9am. ADSL2+ is available in some metropolitan areas, but not in the remaining 99% of the country.
    I can never get full speed because the system is so overloaded that it is reduced to the speed of porridge. If I had a 30GB allowance, I’d never be able to use that much in a month even if it ran 24/7!
    It is impossible to listen to podcasts or vodcasts without a 60sec hiccup every 30secs, so they’re a disaster as well.
    I think your 30GB is great, and if you also have the speed to watch TV online, you’re way ahead of me in a so-called developped country like Australia.

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