Not all uncapped fair use policies are created equal
Whether over a DSL, fibre, or wireless network, uncapped packages from local ISPs are typically subject to a fair usage policy (FUP). Also referred to as an acceptable use policy, FUPs range from specific usage thresholds to more complex systems involving rolling windows and rating systems. Many ISPs also offer different tiers of uncapped products, with more expensive services – often called premium uncapped – enjoying more lenient FUPs.
To help you navigate the basic, or “home”, uncapped market, we have detailed the FUPs of South Africa’s top ISPs below.
The ISP may also shape peer-to-peer traffic and large download when its network is under strain. Customers who have exceeded their threshold will experience unthrottled speeds during off-peak hours, though.
Usage over seven days is projected to 30 days, and the result is compared to the thresholds in the table below. When you exceed the threshold with your 7-day projected usage, your line speed will be throttled by 50%. Should your usage drop to acceptable levels in the week that follows, however, your speed will return to normal – which can offer an advantage over 30-day monitoring thresholds.
Telkom’s FUP is dynamic and varies depending on the customer’s uncapped package and network traffic. Additionally, data used between midnight to 07:00 each day does not count toward the usage limit and is never throttled. The three FUP levels implemented on Telkom HOMEunlimited accounts are detailed below.
- FUP Level 1 (50% of quota value) – Throttled to approximately 50% of product speed for the 2 hours of highest demand daily.
- FUP Level 2 (75% of quota value) – Throttled to approximately 25% of product speed for the 4 hours of highest demand daily.
- FUP Level 3 (100% of quota value) – Throttled to an 8th of product speed or 384kbps (whichever is higher) until the following rollover date.
Telkom HOMEunlimited – FUP
Webafrica uses a 5-star threshold system to manage network traffic on its fibre and ADSL packages. Data used between midnight and 06:00 each day does not affect the customer’s threshold. Webafrica calculates the average usage in a customer’s area, which is monitored over a 10-day rolling period, and when the user’s data usage significantly exceeds that of the area average, their connection will be throttled.
The customer begins with a 5-star rating, which can decrease if their data usage is far greater than the average. The throttling levels for Home Uncapped packages are:
- 5 Star – Great usage on all services, torrents and news server downloads may be slightly slower dependent on network load.
- 4 Star – VoIP and gaming will be great, along with general browsing. Downloads will be slightly slower.
- 3 Star – VoIP and gaming will be good.
YouTube videos will take slightly longer to load, general browsing and mail will be quick.
- 2 Star – General browsing, mail, and online video will perform slightly slower. Voice and gaming services will be good, downloads will take some time.
- 1 Star – General browsing, mail, and online video will perform slightly slower. Voice and gaming services will be functional, downloads will take some time.
Vox’s FUP for Home Uncapped subscribers on ADSL and fibre is based on total data used during a calendar month.
1Mbps uncapped packages are FUP-exempt on Vox.
|2Mbps||40GB – 1Mbps||80GB – 1Mbps||160GB – 1Mbps|
|4Mbps||80GB – 2Mbps||160GB – 1Mbps||260GB – 1Mbps|
|8Mbps||160GB – 4Mbps||320GB – 2Mbps||520GB – 1Mbps|
|10Mbps||200GB – 5Mbps||400GB – 2Mbps||650GB – 1Mbps|
|20Mbps||500GB – 10Mbps||750GB – 5Mbps||1,000GB – 2Mbps|
|40Mbps||750GB – 20Mbps||1,000GB – 10Mbps||1,250GB – 5Mbps|
|100Mbps||1,000GB – 50Mbps||1,250GB – 25Mbps||1,500GB – 10Mbps|
Cybersmart’s Home Uncapped packages are not intended for heavy downloading, with P2P and automated downloads managed by the network. The provider recommends Home Uncapped customers schedule their downloads for after midnight for better performance.
Cybersmart said the FUP threshold differs between each product, based on factors like VoIP usage and how many months the customer has been a subscriber. Fialkov said data usage on Home Uncapped during work hours would count more towards the FUP threshold, and this fair usage policy is applicable to fibre and DSL packages. Cybersmart’s Lightspeed fibre products have a different fair usage policy, comparable to that of overseas providers.
MWEB compares subscriber usage against a 30-day rolling threshold. These thresholds depend on the product and can change. “Given how the thresholds vary and change, we prefer to not publish them, but rather discuss it with the customer at time of purchase,” said MWEB.
Data usage between midnight and 08:00 each day does not count towards the threshold.
- MTN One Day Uncapped bundle (R79) – FUP of 20MB, throttled to 128kbps.
- My MTN Sky Supreme (R1,999 per month) – FUP of 25GB, throttled to 384kbps.
Telkom uncapped LTE
Telkom also has an uncapped fixed LTE product which may be purchased in certain areas. After using 300GB, the LTE connection will be throttled to 4Mbps. When you exceed 350GB, it is throttled to 2Mbps.
Telkom’s uncapped LTE services have a separate threshold for peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent – 50GB.
Cool Ideas and RocketNet – No Limits
Several ISPs, especially those which focus on fibre services, do not have fair use thresholds.
Cool Ideas and RocketNet, both fibre-only ISPs, offer uncapped and unshaped accounts without any published FUP thresholds.
Bronberg Connect, a wireless ISP, offers Wi-Fi based connections which it advertises as “True Uncapped” – unshaped, unthrottled, and without a fair use policy.