London, UK - Britain's biggest ISP is restricting download speeds on its cheapest packages without warning users.
BT Broadband is reported to be slashing the speed at which its users can watch video services like the BBC iPlayer and YouTube at peak times. Customers paying for an eight megabit per second service are seeing speeds cut to below 1Mbps between five in the evening and midnight.
A BT spokesman told the BBC that it managed bandwidth 'to optimise the experience for all customers, as part of its Total Broadband Fair Usage policy'.
But customers wishing to watch the BBC's HD iPlayer - which requires a minimum download speed of just over three Mbps - are being hard done by, says the BBC, with BT forcing people to use the lowest quality iPlayer stream which runs at a meagre 500Kbps.
One BT customer, promised connection speeds of between 5Mbps and 8Mbps, said: "From about 1730 onwards something like BBC iPlayer becomes impossible. It's fine during the day but come the evening, it's a no go. We get nowhere near that. We've tried to contact [BT] numerous times to complain but without success."
ISP watchers in the UK said that BT was not the only organisation restricting bandwidth at peak times while hiding details of what speeds should realistically expect deep in the small print of its service contracts. Customers of mass-market British ISPs have traditionally suffered from severe bandwidth contention at peak times as the companies try to maximise profits by squeezing as many users as possible down a single pipe.