This is why we cannot have nice things

MTN recently stopped offering customers free Twitter data, explaining that it is no longer feasible to offer the service due to the cost and demand it places on the network.

MTN launched its free Twitter promotion in May 2014, offering subscribers who loaded any of its MTN Internet Services free access to Twitter.

The cancellation of the free Twitter service followed MTN placing a 500MB daily usage cap on the offering.

A big reason for the fair use policy (FUP), and MTN ultimately stopping its free Twitter service, was abuse by a small group of users.

Certain subscribers exploited a weakness in the system to share and download video content, with some users consuming well over 1TB of data per month using free Twitter.

“We capped usage of the free Twitter service at 500MB because of the exploitation by a handful of users,” Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for corporate affairs at MTN SA said.

These users were using the unlimited free data on downloads and other platforms.

This meant huge files and videos were being transferred via “tunnelling”, which was never the intention behind the free Twitter service.

Why free and flat-rated services get canned

This scenario is not unique to MTN, and many mobile operators have faced the same challenge when they launch free or flat-rated services.

Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy told MyBroadband that there are generally two factors that will result in a change in fair usage terms on flat-rated or free data products.

  • When certain users are recording extraordinary usage outside of the solution that a product or service was intended to provide.
  • When extraordinary usage by certain users significantly deteriorates the experience enjoyed by the vast majority of customers.

This was seen over and over again in the local telecoms market, and ultimately killed many free or flat-rated offerings by mobile operators.

Now read: MTN stops free Twitter, changes WhatsApp bundle prices

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This is why we cannot have nice things