the ghost of fixed broadband franchise haunts a lot of people, and even with a ban on the part of Anatel there are operators limiting the internet for those who consume high data. O Techblog found that the Of course, out of the blue NET Virtua, has reduced the speed of some clients that exceed the 4 terabytes trafficked mark.
Discussions on the subject usually take place in the Claro NET Virtua thread on the forum Adrenaline. It is a problem that affects few people, but those affected face difficulties in finding a solution.
O Techblog looked for three NET Virtua broadband users who had speeds limited to 30 Mb/s download and 3 Mb/s upload. One of the people ended up canceling the contract with Claro and did not grant an interview, but the other two reported the experience.
“I bought Xbox Series X and gained speed limitation”
The first interviewee is Leonardo Costa, a lawyer and Claro subscriber in Belo Horizonte (MG). He has 240 Mb/s internet, part of a pay-TV combo, and considers himself an “above average” user.
Her slow-down nightmare began in April 2021. The increase in traffic was dramatic after she bought an Xbox Series X video game for her daughter. “I have 5TB of storage in total, I downloaded everything we would ever want to play,” he says. Leonardo is a subscriber to Game Pass, a kind of Netflix games for Microsoft’s console.
A similar situation occurred with Jairo, the second interviewee in our report who lives in Bento Gonçalves (RS). He works with remote support and computer maintenance and bought an Xbox Series S. “I received the video game on March 9th and downloaded several games. In April I formatted my computer and synced back the OneDrive backup, which was approximately 600GB.”
Both customers have the contracted speed of 240 Mb/s download and 20 Mb/s upload, but were limited to 30 Mb/s. Jairo comments: “I noticed the reduced speed on May 10th and I have already filed a complaint at Claro and a protocol at the ombudsman on the same day, which is still open today”. He reported that the operator’s remote support found a profile issue and immediately restored speed, but the limitation reoccurred at 6:30 am the next day.
The common point in Leonardo and Jairo’s stories is that they both had monthly traffic above 4 terabytes, coincidentally after purchasing a new Xbox. Microsoft’s current generation video game titles are quite heavy: Destiny 2: Beyond Light it weighs 65.7 GB, for example, but there are even bigger titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which requires a 136 GB download.
After several contacts with Claro, Jairo got the number of the technician who fixed his speed. “I sent a message on WhatsApp and it did the reset for me. [A velocidade] it only lasted that day, because the next morning at 6:30 am it was reduced again. It was boring to get in touch on weekends, but I needed to use the internet”, he says.
Of course, he checked customers’ homes during the technical visit
In Leonardo’s case, Claro’s support process involved technical visits, and he says that his modem has already been exchanged six times by the operator; at the time of substitution, the speed was re-established for the contracted party, but the next day in the morning the limitation appeared again.
On one occasion, a technician asked if he was transferring his connection to other people and checked all the rooms in the property, to make sure that there was no irregular internet distribution. Even with everything ok, his bandwidth never returned to normal.
Meanwhile, the lawyer collects protocols at the ombudsman and at Anatel. “I even requested the recording of my conversation with the ombudsman and with the SAC, but they posed difficulties in the process and did not send me,” he says. Leonardo is studying to file a lawsuit in court.
In one of the ombudsman’s responses, Leonardo received a screenshot of Claro’s system that shows that his contract is in a blacklist – expression commonly used to demonstrate some type of blocking or restriction. He questioned what that meant, but the operator didn’t reveal why.
Claro’s search for the real use of the internet also happened to Jairo: a technician asked him to take pictures of his entire house and explain the connection points. At that point, the employee revealed to the customer that the operator suspected irregular activities due to intense bandwidth consumption. “The problem is that it’s all the technician’s word, they don’t leave anything in writing”, he complained.
For all this headache, Jairo got a discount of R$50 on his broadband monthly fee, but restricted to a six-month period. Leonardo, on the other hand, had a reduction of R$80 in the bill in recent months.
A broadband contract, but two Claro modems
The technician who requested the photos of Jairo’s property also performed a curious procedure: he installed a second Claro broadband modem, identical to the original equipment, and left both products side by side.
Jairo reports that in this second equipment he can navigate with the contracted speed, but the modem is not linked to his contract and is not even included in the service order left by the technician. The original device is still running, but at the limited speed of 30 Mb/s. He also has an open protocol in his city’s Procon, but Claro hasn’t resolved it yet.
Limitation impaired internet use
The government started to consider the internet connection as an essential service since 2020, and the speed limitation by Claro harmed both respondents.
Leonardo comments that he had to buy an extra cell phone chip to perform some tasks: “My daughters attend classes through Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. There was a moment when one of them participated in the Mathematics Olympics and the internet was oscillating, I had to put Vivo’s 4G for it to use”.
In the end, the lawyer hired another broadband connection while trying to solve the problems: “I signed up for Vivo Fibra around here. The upload is even better, but the service is more unstable than Claro’s”, he says.
Jairo says he would change operator if he had another option. He reports that in his region there are only local providers with plans for lower speeds, and Claro is the only company that sells internet with more than 100 Mb/s download.
Claro’s broadband plans have a franchise
When searching for Claro’s broadband plans, there is no mention of the usage allowance on the sales website. However, the service regulation clarifies that there are limits – in the case of the 250 Mb/s plan, they are up to 1,000 GB per month, and whoever exceeds the package will be reduced to “the lowest speed offered by the operator”, which is currently 50 Mb /s.
Even so, there is an injunction in force at Anatel since 2016 that prohibits reduction of speed, disconnection or additional charges for fixed internet accesses. In other words: contracts may even have the stipulated deductible, but it cannot be applied to customers.
The injunction is from 2016, but Claro has not forgotten this matter: in 2019, it asked Anatel to release the franchises in fixed broadband so that telecoms can exercise “freedom in business models”.
Thankfully Anatel didn’t give in to these limits (at least for now?): the pandemic started in 2020 and the use of broadband has grown exponentially with remote work, online classes and greater demand for entertainment due to social isolation measures.
Operators were taken by surprise with the higher occupation of networks, and Claro had a 98.9% increase in complaints to Anatel about fixed internet – the main complaints involved slowness or reduced speed in the connection.
The use of data has grown, and the operators themselves advertise their broadband services as a means of access to online games, video streaming and work.
Speaking specifically of Claro, it is worth noting that the operator has launched Claro Box TV, an alternative to pay TV that does not require coaxial cables and satellite dishes in favor of the internet, via IPTV. A 4K stream on the service consumes 4.1 GB per hour.
After all, does Claro limit internet speed?
O Techblog contacted Claro and sent the following questions:
- Why did Claro reduce the speed of broadband customers?
- What are the criteria for reducing the speed of Claro NET Virtua broadband?
- Why isn’t Claro following Anatel’s caution on broadband limitations?
- Why doesn’t the operator inform aggrieved customers about the broadband limitation?
- What should a client with reduced speed with Claro do?
- Will Claro apply speed limitations or charge for excess traffic if there is permission from Anatel to sell plans with a franchise for use?
Claro sent the following note:
Claro, the leading fixed broadband operator in Brazil, informs that it does not practice speed reduction or interruption of service navigation for its customers.
The operator points out that with the emergence of the pandemic in Brazil and the measures of social isolation, Brazilians have spent even more time in front of the screens, with an increase of more than four hours a day, twice as much as observed globally. And, therefore, it has recently adapted its fixed broadband plans to offer even more quality connectivity to meet different consumption profiles.
Claro also reinforces that the performance of connections depends on several factors, such as the quality and configuration of equipment that are connected to broadband; sharing network access with many devices; interference on Wi-Fi, among many others. If the customer is having problems with their connection or has questions regarding the contracted service, it is possible to contact the operator through the Call Center (10621) and the Minha Claro Residencial application.
Sources of Techblog linked to Claro that prefer not to be identified informed that there is a standard for limitation due to high use of broadband, but this information cannot be passed on to the operator’s customers who were affected by the measure.
Even claiming not to reduce speed, Claro’s customers interviewed by Techblog continue with their limited access. Jairo says: “It’s a generic answer and the service received at 10621 is limited to resetting the modem or scheduling a technical visit, which doesn’t solve anything”.
Leonardo complains that Anatel does not fulfill its role in inspecting the operator: “It is really worrying that Anatel, as a government agency that should exercise the role of inspection and control agent of products and services of public interest, remains inert, leaving the consumer end at the mercy of large corporations such as Claro, which use their great economic power to subjugate us, the contractors, to abusive and illegal unilateral rules and procedures”.
TIM Live also has problems with internet franchise
Claro is not the only operator that harms customers who consume their broadband connection: in 2020, TIM Live changed some contracts and unilaterally canceled the access of some customers due to excessive use.
At the time, TIM defended itself and stated that “there are objective and transparent parameters to characterize a traffic as industrial and non-residential”. The operator recommended the contracting of a TIM Live Empresas plan, but users found restrictions on joining as individuals.