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Millions of broadband customers are paying over the odds for broadband by falling foul of usage limits, a new study by TalkTalk suggests.

Research compiled by the TV, home phone and broadband provider suggests that the average charge for exceeding broadband limits stands at £11.30, meaning UK consumers are collectively being charged £140 million for going over their usage cap.

Over the last five years, TalkTalk says the number of connected devices in each household has doubled, while Ofcom figures show that the average family now consumes 58GB of data each month.

In spite of this, many households are on packages with limits as low as 10GB, which is the equivalent of downloading a handful of episodes of a TV show.

Data-heavy streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer and the rise of on-demand content have played a major role in the increase in average usage, while the bandwidth requirements for online gaming has also put strain on networks and pushed families over their usage caps.

However, it seems that many homes are unaware of their usage; TalkTalk found that 86% of capped broadband customers do not track their data usage at all, while a quarter who go over their limits are not offered a plan that is in line with their data requirements.

TalkTalk Simply Broadband BT Broadband
Slowing down at peak times No Yes
Monthly usage allowance Totally unlimited 10GB
Cost for exceeding allowance N/A £1.50 per 1GB (currently £5.60 per 5GB. From Sept it’ll be £7.50 per 5GB)
Additional cost of using 58GB
(monthly average according to Ofcom)
N/A £72

According to TalkTalk's calculations, consumers on BT’s Standard Broadband package using the average monthly amount of 58GB could be paying £72 in charges a month, while 21% of respondents to the TalkTalk survey say the prospect of going over their limit and incurring charges gives them anxiety.

TalkTalk’s Managing Director for Consumer Tristia Harrison commented: "At TalkTalk, we are proud to be the only provider to offer 100% totally unlimited broadband as standard, with no download limits, and we'd like to see other providers follow our lead by bringing an end to these unfair caps."

"As our dependence increases and more and more of our appliances and gadgets connect us to the things we love, the practice of capping broadband data usage is clearly outdated and unfair."

It comes after the company launched a new offer giving customers 18 months of unlimited broadband on its Simply package for free, plus monthly line rental of £16.70.

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