How much uncapped ADSL data you must use to cost your ISP money

Broadband data use is increasing rapidly in South Africa, which is fuelled by, among other things, the growth in video streaming services like Netflix and ShowMax.

According to Telkom’s latest figures, it pushed 472 Petabytes of traffic on its fixed broadband network last year – up 39% from the year before.

This increased use comes at a cost to ISPs. While wholesale bandwidth prices have declined in recent years, they have not kept track with the growth in data use.

The total cost of providing a gigabyte of data sits at around R2 per GB, where the price of wholesale IP Connect bandwidth is the biggest contributor to this cost.

This means that a person who pays R165 for a 2Mbps uncapped account and uses more than 83GB is costing their ISP money.

The table below shows how much money Afrihost loses through its biggest uncapped data users.

Afrihost Uncapped ADSL Accounts
Service Top User Account Price Loss
10Mbps Home Uncapped 1,857GB R367 R3,347
8Mbps Home Uncapped 871GB R327 R1,415
4Mbps Home Uncapped 870GB R237 R1,503
2Mbps Home Uncapped 539GB R167 R911
1Mbps Home Uncapped 305GB R97 R513
10Mbps Premium Uncapped 2,268GB R797 R3,739
8Mbps Premium Uncapped 1,639GB R597 R2,681
4Mbps Premium Uncapped 1,265GB R397 R2,133
2Mbps Premium Uncapped 586GB R297 R875
1Mbps Premium Uncapped 349GB R197 R501

When an ISP starts to lose money

MyBroadband asked prominent South African ISPs what the amount of data is where their uncapped ADSL accounts become unprofitable.

Here are the averages of the feedback received from the service providers. It should be noted that the actual thresholds will differ per ISP and account type.

Uncapped ADSL Account Loss-Making Threshold
2Mbps Uncapped 70GB
4Mbps Uncapped 130GB
8Mbps Uncapped 240GB
10Mbps Uncapped 330GB

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How much uncapped ADSL data you must use to cost your ISP money