Many broadband users are unaware that watching television shows online can end up burning a big hole in their pockets.
Although services such as the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4's on demand service 4oD are free to use, some broadband
contracts charge users more if a certain download capacity is exceeded.
A number of basic broadband packages allow users to download just 1GB of content per month, and many customers fail to read the small print which explains additional charges should they exceed this limit. 1GB allows users to watch approximately 90 minutes of online television.
So, while consumers may feel they are getting a great deal by paying less than £10 a month for their broadband package, they may find themselves paying a much higher premium if they download films or television programmes on a regular basis.
Charges for exceeding the limit vary from 30p (BT) per additional gigabyte to £2 (Madasafish). And although some providers, such as Sky, tend to move customers onto a higher tariff if they regularly exceed their limit, many others are happy to allow the charges to stack up.
The launch of the BBC iPlayer in December prompted a surge in online viewing, with more than 2.2 million people watching a programme using the catch-up service in the first month alone. Around 11 million programmes were either streamed or downloaded during the month, and this number is set to climb as more people become aware of the service.
"Online viewing offers customers the opportunity to watch their favourite programmes when it is most convenient for them," says fairivestment.co.uk director, James Caldwell. "But people need to be aware that their broadband package may not include endless downloading capacity."
"It is really important that consumers compare deals and check out download limits before signing up," adds Mr Caldwell.
© Fair Investment Company Ltd