Vodacom and MTN have said this year that they are battling to stop some BlackBerry subscribers from downloading large amounts of data every month, bypassing the usual restrictions on the BlackBerry service.
Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said that they have investigated the issue and found that schoolchildren are often to blame, with some of them using over 300GB per month.
These teenagers have found innovative ways to bypass the BlackBerry Internet access restrictions to download movies, TV series and other video content. Uys added that the downloaded content is often not even watched, and is merely downloaded to see who can push the most data per week.
This ‘abuse’ of the BlackBerry service started to influence the overall experience of other BlackBerry users, and Vodacom and MTN asked Research in Motion (RIM) for a solution to this growing problem.
The current stumbling block to identify certain network activity is that the data on the BlackBerry network is encrypted, making it impossible for MTN and Vodacom to filter or throttle certain activities.
It is believed that one possible solution will involve a network point in South Africa which will give the operators the ability to see what is happening in the BlackBerry network and impose rules on certain traffic types.
Vodacom’s Uys said that RIM promised them a solution by Christmas, and he is confident that they will implement a solution to stop abuse on the BlackBerry network by the end of 2011.
Uys however reassured ‘normal’ BlackBerry users (who do not download large media files) that the solution will not affect their services.
In the interim, Vodacom is monitoring the data usage of BlackBerry subscribers, and intervenes where necessary.
MTN was asked for comment about this issue, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.
MTN SA CTO Kanagaratnam Lambotharan previously said that they are currently exploring ways to minimise the negative impact this might have and will communicate to customers in due course.