Its a weird title, I know (when Telkom does anything good, its generally weird or unexpected), but those were my first thoughts when I opened my news feeds last week in preparation to begin writing again for 2013. I’ll get straight to the point – capped Telkom accounts once again have a soft cap, except this time its not limited to local-only data. Once your cap runs out from February the 1st, you’ll still be able to access Facebook, Twitter and most other websites that you use. We’re still a ways away from the network change, so hit the button to find out what’s known so far.
Waking up on the 4th of January, I had a PM from a friend who works for Telkom, telling me to check the news that morning. Lo and behold, Telkom announced that it was doing away with hard caps. I checked my mails and there the press release was, waiting to be scrutinised:
“Telkom Internet will be upgrading our internet network from 1 February 2013 as we continue our efforts to improve your internet experience. This upgrade will enable us to improve our value proposition to you in the form of product updates designed to enhance the quality of experience. Both residential and business customers will benefit from these improvements. The following changes will take effect on 1st of February 2013:
The Free local data promotion will be discontinued and replaced by a “soft cap”. This means that upon reaching your internet cap, you will no longer be limited to local data only instead you will now be able to access international sites on a soft cap.
Telkom Internet will remove the current daytime speed limitations on its do Uncapped service. It’s important to note that do Uncapped packages data will remain shaped.
TBiz Uncapped will evolve into a superior performance uncapped product, with greater prioritisation of business traffic.
This gives businesses customers an edge as we prioritise business applications such as banking, email, VPN traffic, voice and browsing, any time of the day.
It’s important to note that, after you have reached your cap, day to day activities such as e-mail, banking, and browsing will be given priority whilst lower priority will be given to high usage applications such as file sharing (P2P etc.) and streaming services. You will no longer be limited once you have reached your cap.
However, your internet speed may be slowed down and shaped for some international activities. In essence, the change will offer all our capped customers a shaped uncapped experience. Most importantly, all data consumed on the soft-cap will not be charged for.”
First things first, comparisons between this and Axxess’ existing justSurf accounts are justified. The justSurf accounts are for browsing only and heavily shape P2P connections, downloads on services like Steam/Youtube and block large downloads of any sort. Its an account normally for low-use surfers, the people who use social networking and e-mail to keep up with what’s happening, but don’t do much otherwise. However, those accounts are also kept to super-low speeds, creating a grating experience even when you’re on locally-hosted websites like NAG, so there’s certainly room for improvement in that area and I expect many justSurf users will be enticed by Telkom’s offer.
Telkom hasn’t detailed to what extent services will be affected on capped clients that dig into the soft cap will be like. Considering that it costs the company little money to provide local-only data on its network, it would make sense to expect that downloads from servers locally mirrored for Linux distributions, Youtube and Telkom’s own News/Do Gaming League server would be running at full speed. Websites hosted locally, including banking and news sites, could probably also be at full speed, although this may incur costs in the end for Telkom if there’s a hand-over of data from other ISPs. Peering between ISPs is free, but that doesn’t mean there’s no cost associated with it.
In any case, once you hit your cap on Feb the 1st, you’ll be able to continue browsing the net. Downloads may be shaped and gaming may not be as prioritised, but I’m sure it’ll go through just fine. You may even be able to use proxy servers to view Youtube videos, although you’d be circumventing Telkom’s restrictions and giving them reason to cancel your service. This looks like something to entice more users to subscribe to higher-bitrate ADSL services – the more people on higher-speed services, the more money Telkom earns from its aging last-mile copper network. It also benefits the consumers because you’d be able to subscribe to a higher speed service with a lower cap if all you do is browse the net anyway. Win-win and it doesn’t cost you anything more.
In the coming weeks I expect Telkom to detail more about their changes to capped services and I hope to have some questions answered before the release date of the new soft cap. Those of you NAGlings who have questions you’d like answered, post them in the comments below or forums and we’ll see if Telkom’s finally listening to us.