One South African ISP has T&Cs that take 2 hours to read

It will take over 2 hours to read through all the terms and conditions related to buying a broadband service from Mweb.

It was one of the findings from a comparison of the length of the terms and conditions from prominent South African Internet service providers (ISPs).

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) demands that companies use plain and understandable language in contracts and documents like terms and conditions (T&Cs).

However, the CPA does not say how long contracts or terms and conditions documents can be.

Most companies, therefore, have terms and conditions of thousands of words to safeguard themselves. It means that consumers seldom read these documents.

Most people simply click “Accept” when terms and conditions are needed to start using a service.

It may seem silly to click accept without reading what you sign up for, but considering the length of these documents, it is no surprise.

The T&Cs of Microsoft’s Bing search engine, for example, is a 14,417-word document that will take nearly two hours to read.

The same goes for the terms and conditions of South African ISPs.

South African ISP T&C length

Every ISP structures its legal documents differently. The different structures make a single document length comparison difficult.

To compare ISPs, we divided the terms and conditions into four parts:

  1. General terms and conditions
  2. Terms and conditions relating to the use of the website
  3. Policies relating to the fair and acceptable use of their products
  4. Terms and conditions specifically relating to fibre products

Some ISPs group these terms together, while others have separate documents for each part.

For this comparison, MyBroadband combined the terms from the four parts and added the word count in each document for a final figure.

We then calculated how long it would take to read through them, at an average reading speed of 130 words per minute.

The reading speed is based on similar international research, which assumes a slow reading speed because of the technical nature of these documents.

We found that Supersonic had the shortest total document length, while Mweb had the lengthiest terms and conditions.

To read through all Mweb’s terms and conditions, which contain 21,743 words, would take almost three hours.

Although Supersonic’s was the shortest, it would still take nearly an hour to read through its agreements.

The table below provides an overview of the length of all the terms and conditions from prominent South African ISPs.

ISP Terms and Conditions
ISP Total words
Time to read
Supersonic 6 336 49 minutes
Cool Ideas 8 483 65 minutes
Webafrica 8 816 68 minutes
Vox 9 416 72 minutes
Home Connect 9 509 73 minutes
RSAWeb 11 765 90 minutes
Afrihost 13 385 103 minutes
Telkom 13 639 105 minutes
Axxess 14 423 111 minutes
Mweb 21 743 167 minutes

Now read: Beware buying a Telkom SIM from Takealot

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One South African ISP has T&Cs that take 2 hours to read