Your "unlimited" web connection may be anything but


Each month, you shell out real, green dollars for unlimited web access. And one day, you log on, only to see a big blank screen, courtesy of your provider. Why? You used the web too much with that unlimited account.

It happens all the time. One Comcast customer was dumped for using too much web service on a plan he purchased because it was "unlimited." The company told him the word referred to the fact he could be on his computer as much as he wanted, not that he could view as many pages and videos as he wanted. And then Comcast tried selling him a more expensive plan. Infuriated, he fought back, launching a fiery blog and a cutting YouTube protest to tell the world he'd been ripped off. And a consumer advocate was born.

In July, Sprint put a cap on its previously "unlimited" data card usage, following Verizon and AT&T. Now, 5 gigabytes is all you get unless you want corporate monkeys to shut off your supply. Americans aren't the only ones to suffer the bait-and-switch defended by dense legalese and bent logic in the Terms of Service contract: U.K.'s Vodafone puts similar caps on its "unlimited" mobile phone plan, as does Canada's TELUS.