Webafrica explains incorrect data billing — Terabytes consumed every day

Many Webafrica DSL and fibre customers have complained of excessive data consumption on their accounts during September and October 2022.

MyBroadband has received numerous emails about the issue from frustrated customers.

Several of the company’s customers also reported their experience with the apparent incorrect consumption on the MyBroadband Forum.

One user explained the usage report on his Webafrica dashboard showed he consumed roughly 50–60GB of data every hour on his 300GB capped VDSL package.

Given that his line could only download at 40Mbps or 5MB/s, the maximum theoretical amount of data downloadable within an hour would be 18GB.

In addition, he was also seeing the same amount of consumption during load-shedding, when his connection was offline.

The subscriber said he ensured no additional lines were connected to his account and confirmed no unknown devices were connected to his router pulling the additional data.

He also compared his router’s usage statistics with the figure reported by Webafrica and found it was around 1% of the ISP’s amount.

Webafrica uncapped fibre data usage reports also strange

Several uncapped fibre users reported similar anomalies on their accounts, with one saying Webafrica reported he used 1TB in one day when he only used between 20-30GB.

Another found his usage was around 143-145GB per hour for every hour of the day, including during those when he was asleep, and no devices were active.

That level of consumption worked out to over 3.4TB in a day.

The screenshot below shows the customers’ hourly data usage figures between midnight and 22:00 on one recent day.

The excessive consumption reporting seemed to continue into October, with one capped user’s data allocation for the month running out in less than two days.

Several customers tried to rectify the issue with Webafrica’s customer support, but the ISP’s agents seemed unwilling or unable to assist.

However, following numerous complaints, one user said Webafrica had reset their October usage to zero.

Webafrica chief technology officer Alan Kirton told MyBroadband the issue was caused by a clean-up of one of the ISP’s radius databases on 25 September 2022.

“It caused our accounting process to sum usage packets rather than allocate the difference into a period for PPPoE [Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet] sessions, causing significantly increased usage to be logged against the accounts erroneously,” Kirton explained.

“We have cleared the impacted usage from September and are rerunning the usage through our accounting process, and we expect this to be complete over the next few hours.”

Kirton said Webafrica would correct the October usage after amending September’s figures.

He acknowledged the issue had cut off some capped users from accessing their packages for a “short time”, while certain uncapped mobile data users were also affected by throttling.

“From our records, we can see at peak 30 users [were] impacted by this across the base,” Kirton said.

“There were also up to 100 MTN uncapped customers that were also rate limited for a short period of time but would not have lost access.”

Webafrica has since removed all data caps to minimise the impact on customers.

“We do apologise for any inconvenience caused and assure you we are working hard to ensure our systems are rock solid and don’t have any repeats,” Kirton said.

Now read: Webafrica slapped with R30,000 fine

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Webafrica explains incorrect data billing — Terabytes consumed every day