An Afrihost customer recently contacted MyBroadband and explained that he was unable to use his full night-time data allocation, as it appeared that his connection speed was being limited.
The customer is subscribed to a 150GB + 150GB Pure MTN LTE package, which he purchased through Afrihost.
Each of Afrihost’s Pure LTE packages includes an anytime allocation, as well as an equal amount of Night Express data for exclusive use between the hours of midnight and 05:00.
The customer noted he had scheduled his peer-to-peer (P2P) downloads to run during this period.
However, instead of being able to download at the same rates as he would throughout the day, the download speed would drop substantially, to around 100Kbps.
“By each morning, I had only managed to download 2GB of data,” he said.
If this trend were to continue for a full month, he would theoretically only be able to use around 60GB of his 150GB allocation.
The customer claimed the issue was not related to network quality, as he was achieving nearly a 50Mbps download speed during the day.
He added that the slower download speeds were present whether he used a VPN or not.
When throttling is used
Mobile operators and Internet Service Providers may in certain instances throttle speeds on their customers’ connections.
This is to avoid a particular customer from degrading the overall network performance through excessive downloads or heavy use.
Additionally, it prevents customers from reselling their data connections en masse.
Shaping is typically also applied on certain non-real-time Internet traffic – such as HTTP or P2P (torrent) downloads, and NNTP (news) services.
An ISP would typically describe its throttling and shaping rules under a Fair Usage Policy (FUP), which is provided on its website.
Most of these policies are implemented on uncapped fibre or DSL packages, as these connections encourage heavy use of data.
For the most part, however, mobile LTE and other data packages are capped, which means customers are less inclined to run up their data usage and ISPs don’t need to implement FUPs.
This is not always the case, however. One example where a FUP is applicable to a mobile data connection is on Telkom’s 100GB Night Surfer bundle.
As explained in its FUP, between the hours of midnight and 01:00 and once again from 05:00 to 07;00, peer-to-peer and network news transfer protocol traffic is limited to 512Kbps, while all other traffic is throttled to 2Mbps.
Between 01:00 and 05:00, all traffic is limited to 10Mbps.
MTN and Afrihost’s terms and conditions
However, in this instance, MyBroadband was unable to locate any reference to an FUP, speed throttling or shaping under either MTN or Afrihost’s Terms and Conditions for capped LTE services.
Additionally, Afrihost’s network management page, which details its approach to throttling and shaping, states that Afrihost’s fixed broadband capped clients will never be shaped.
“As a Capped client you are unshaped no matter what services you use – regardless of the time of day and your usage total. This means that we will not slow down your connection speed (by shaping or throttling) no matter what you download or connect to.”
It’s not clear whether Afrihost includes fixed-LTE as a fixed broadband option.
MTN and Afrihost explain
MyBroadband asked MTN and Afrihost whether it was throttling speeds on its Night Express data.
MTN confirmed that it does not throttle any anytime or night time speeds itself, but that this would be determined by the particular service provider’s FUP.
“The data package fair usage policy and peer-to-peer traffic throttling is controlled by the service provider, which in this case is Afrihost.”
Afrihost CEO Gian Visser said they do not shape, throttle or slow down any of Pure LTE products at any time of the day or night for any type of traffic (peer to peer or otherwise).
“A client’s individual performance and speed on LTE are reliant on the areas they are in, the towers they connect to and the time they do so,” said Visser.
“We would love to try and help this client out however we can to solve their problem.”