Uncapped ADSL fair use policies compared

The FUPs of newly launched Nashua Mobile and WebAfrica uncapped do battle with Mweb, Afrihost, Axxess, and Telkom

November 16, 2011
ADSL

Nashua Mobile and WebAfrica recently announced that they would begin selling uncapped ADSL accounts. They also revealed that as with other uncapped offerings in SA, theirs would also be subject to an acceptable use policy (AUP).

An AUP, also sometimes referred to as a fair use policy (FUP), often allows the Internet service provider (ISP) to throttle or shape traffic on its network, usually with the stated aim to supply bandwidth fairly among its users.

Some of these policies explicitly define the thresholds a user has to reach before being throttled, while others are vague.

To see how the FUPs of various uncapped ADSL ISPs compare, we’ve reproduced the relevant sections from each below.

Mweb uncapped ADSL acceptable use policy

We will manage bandwidth usage to the best of our ability during peak periods, however, it remains a best effort service.

We reserve the right to manage our network in order to optimize its efficiency for the benefit of all our subscribers, including, without limitation, by way of the following:

  • rate limiting (speed)
  • rejection or removal of spam or otherwise unsolicited bulk e-mail
  • anti-virus mechanisms
  • protocol filtering and imposing restrictions on your use.

We may take any other action we deem appropriate in order to help ensure the integrity of the network experience for all subscribers, including limiting your data traffic by controlling your network and/or bandwidth usage.

Afrihost acceptable use policy

We manage all of our uncapped accounts on an hour to hour basis depending on the performance of our network at that time.

  • If our capacity is stretched we dynamically shape and throttle certain clients’ uncapped accounts to relieve congestion.
  • These uncapped clients will be chosen based on their historic bandwidth usage. The uncapped users who have used the most bandwidth will be throttled first if there is network congestion.
  • If capacity opens up we will un-throttle uncapped users who may have been throttled until such a time that the capacity is used up again.

It is our goal to ensure the best possible experience for both the biggest and smallest of our clients given the parameters we have and as such we reserve the right to manage Uncapped ADSL accounts as we deem necessary to ensure optimal performance across our network for all of our clients.

Axxess (and Internet Solutions) uncapped ADSL acceptable use policy

justSurf / yourSurf

This uncapped account is for web-based e-mail and browsing. It is not suitable for application-to-application and/or application-to-server services and downloading is restricted.

justUncapped / Uncapped

This account is governed by a priority system.

Internet Solutions will calculate your usage on an hourly basis against the average usage across all Uncapped users. If you fall within the top 20% of users (384k, 512k & 1024k accounts) or top 50% (4096k account), your traffic priority will be lessened by lowering your star rating on the network.

Users with a higher star rating will have a better experience.

Axxess says that if there’s no congestion (mostly after hours), even a 1-star account can have a good experience. This is because the network is designed to make all available bandwidth accessible to its users.

justUncapped Express+ / ADSL Uncapped Fibre

Daytime Policy

Should a product threshold be exceeded during any 10 consecutive calendar day period, the speed for the respective service will be halved between 08:00 and 20:00 during weekdays.

Connection speed 10 day rolling window Lowered to
384kbps (192kbps upload) 5GB 192kbps
512kbps (256kbps upload) 10GB 256kbps
1024kbps (384kbps upload) 20GB 512kbps

After Hours Policy

Between 8pm and 8am the account speed will be restored to full line speed up to 10Mbps (not account speed).

Similar to normal uncapped account, this account is governed by a priority system, but only throttles if you fall within the top 20% of users.

Telkom uncapped ADSL fair use policy

Telkom has explicitly defined daytime throttling policies for their “up to” 384kbps and 1024kbps accounts.

However, Telkom also has a FUP in place in the event that they need further control over network capacity when there is “excessive usage”.

When asked what “excessive” means, Telkom’s Steven White said that it is difficult to put a number on it, as it’s not about the usage necessarily but about the effect that usage has on other subscribers.

“500GB is probably excessive, but if the rest of the pool allows it to happen, then it will happen,” White said.

Uncapped Internet Products Daytime Restrictions Internet Uncapped Price ADSL Line Price Combined Price
Do Uncapped 384kbps
  • 6AM to 6PM: Up to 295kbps
  • 6AM to 10PM: Up to 354kbps
  • 10PM to 6AM: Up to 384kbps
  • No restriction on local traffic
R219 R152 R371
Do Uncapped 1Mbps
  • 6AM to 6PM: Up to 472kbps
  • 6AM to 10PM: Up to 767kbps
  • 10PM to 6AM: Up to 1Mbps
  • No restriction on local traffic
R369 R289 R658
Do Uncapped 4/10Mbps None R2,097 R413 R2,510

Nashua Mobile “fair service for all policy”

Nashua Mobile calls their AUP a “fair service for all policy” and it looks exactly like the Internet Solutions AUP.

Usage is monitored on a rolling 10 day period and does not reset at the beginning of each month, Nashua Mobile said. Should usage remain less than 80% of the average user for each product, the service will remain unaffected.

If your usage exceeds 80% of the average user, then the following levels of moderation start kicking in:

  1. Move the service to a Shaped service.  Shaping is implemented via download throttling and user relative priority control will first be applied to all file sharing protocols.
  2. Should usage remain above the 80% average threshold, additional shaping will be managed via manipulation of throttling and priority control.

WebAfrica acceptable use policy

WebAfrica also has an AUP that is based on a rolling window, similar to that of IS.

Where it differs from Internet Solutions, however, is that there are two windows and data limits are explicitly defined.

Package 6 hour limit in GB 7 day limit in GB
Home Uncapped 384kbps 0.305 4.25
Home Uncapped 1Mbps 0.79 11.07
Home Uncapped 4Mbps 3.165 44.3
Home Uncapped 10Mbps 7.91 110.74

Usage between 00:00 and 07:00 doesn’t contribute to overall usage.

Conclusion

WebAfrica and Telkom, two of the newer entrants into the uncapped ADSL market, have the most straight-forward AUPs with well defined throttling conditions.

Mweb and Afrihost continue to have vague policies, while Internet Solutions offers some idea of how they calculate throttling thresholds but with no way for users to know when their rating will be reduced.

It is encouraging to see so many players in the market offering a variety of consumer uncapped products. Subscribers that wanted a more clearly defined AUP for uncapped ADSL can now choose an ISP that has one.

Web Africa unveils home uncapped ADSL service

Nashua Mobile launches unshaped, uncapped ADSL

Telkom uncapped ADSL: All the details

MWEB Legal Notices – Acceptable Use Policy

Tags: Afrihost, Axxess, Headline, MWEB, Nashua Mobile, Telkom, Uncapped ADSL, WebAfrica

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