When is uncapped not uncapped?

The answer to the above depends entirely on your idea of what uncapped is, but for the sake of transparency let’s all agree that uncapped (read: unlimited) means that a user has unlimited bandwidth, and can download as much as he/she wants. Are we on the same page here? Good.

However, the current uncapped accounts are not uncapped, at least not in the sense that we have just settled on. Somewhat justifiably so, people are complaining about this, but I don’t think this is the underlying issue. Personally, I think people are missing the point here.

When MWEB first announced their uncapped offers they specified that according to their Acceptable Usage Policy, the new accounts are not for heavy downloaders. These are for the users that previously found themselves topping up their cap every month, and wanted a flat rate that would accommodate their usage — not the guys who sit on torrents all weekend. Those users are already accommodated for by current uncapped packages provided by ISPs such as Axxess, MWEB, and Webafrica, and they continually download large amounts of data each month. It’s completely acceptable, therefore, that they pay ± R1,000 for downloading the equivalent of my entire hard drive in a week.

Downloading the internet? Stay on your expensive accounts.
Downloading the internet? Stay on your expensive accounts.

Let’s take a step back and think about this: those same people are the ones who have now recently subscribed to the new uncapped accounts, and still expect the same level of service. Oh, gee, you wonder why you are now throttled because you downloaded 40GB over the weekend? Let’s do some maths then…

The average Axxess Uncapped Express+ user on a 4Mb/s line downloads 400GB a month. Those people pay R2,699 for that privilege. So…

R2,699/400GB  =  R6.75/GB

At close on R7 per gigabyte, that’s a pretty good deal, as currently the cheapest per-GB deal is sitting at R29. But try download that amount of data on the new Axxess uncapped account for R496.

R496/400GB = R1.24/GB

Has anyone been laughing at Webafrica’s “unsustainable” comments? Well, they’re right. There’s almost zero money being made here on this account with that kind of usage. There’s no way any business will survive running on less than R1.50 per GB. Naturally, all of the ISPs have forseen this, and have adjusted their AUPs accordingy.

The internet landscape is now a melting pot of wordplay, bad ideas and greedy users - yup, its still the same!
The internet landscape is now a melting pot of wordplay, bad ideas and greedy users - yup, its still the same!

Previously Afrihost specified 200GB as a threshold, after which your account will be subject to scrutiny and throttling.

R497/200GB = R2.49/GB

They immediately saw how people used their lines for heavy downloading. They charged pro-rata for users who signed up before April, and some got up to 120GB in two weeks.

R147/120GB = R1.23/GB

After a few changes to their AUP, they’ve come clean and decided on 60GB as the new threshold, after which you will be heavily throttled.

R497/60GB = R8.28/GB

You may want to complain about it, chuck your toys out the cot and move elsewhere, but you’re complaining about absolutely nothing… because nothing has changed.


In fact, very little at all could have changed.

All that these companies are doing is selling you the same package from their premium uncapped accounts, but they’re charging you more for it. MWEB was the first to realize this, and others quickly followed suit.  None of you heavies will realize this until it’s too late, but for those of us who download less than 60GB a month, this is perfect.

If you want to complain, it will get you <-this-> far, I can guarantee you. Now will you people please rejoice for internet that costs less than R10 a GB?