Uncapped Wordsmiths

There have been major developments in the broadband internet space in South Africa in 2010. Several major ISPs have started offering so-called “uncapped broadband” at surprisingly affordable rates.

The immediate astonishment and disbelief at the low prices was soon replaced by sulking and disbelief at the application of “fair usage policies” that restricts the speed at which certain ports run, and the speed at which the entire service runs after a certain (sometimes specified sometimes not) amount of data has been downloaded for the month.

I blogged a few weeks ago about the fundamental economic problems of shared, uncapped (or “common”) broadband access. This hasn’t changed the conversations happening in the wider world.  Maybe next time.

I thought I’d approach this from a completely different angle. Moneyweb has an article today “Is MTN’s uncapped broadband a con?” In reality, the article is taking a fair swing at most so-called cheap uncapped broadband, claiming that it isn’t really uncapped.

Which is ridiculous.

Of course it’s uncapped. You are never capped. You can download throughout the month and never be capped. The complainers are whinging about the wrong word.

What these services are not is broadband. They are uncapped, but the speed at which they are uncapped is too slow to be called broadband. MTN’s product could better be described as 128kbps uncapped, with a speed boost for the first 3GB (or 10GB depending on package). This is an uncapped account but it is not broadband.

The ASA has already had success in the past in preventing some companies from advertising internet services as broadband if they are not fast enough. This should be the angle taken to prevent misleading advertising.

Published by David Kirk

The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and other commenters and are not necessarily those of his employer or any other organisation. David Kirk runs Milliman’s actuarial consulting practice in Africa. He is an actuary and is the creator of New Business Margin on Revenue. He specialises in risk and capital management, regulatory change and insurance strategy . He also has extensive experience in embedded value reporting, insurance-related IFRS and share option valuation.