Thursday, 18 March 2010

MWeb announce cheap uncapped broadband

MWeb significantly cut broadband prices today with a new full range of uncapped packages. This is truly fantastic news to South Africans since these sort of prices have been long overdue. South Africa is now slowly but surely getting in line with the rest of the world as far as broadband prices go.

South Africans are used to data caps where you have to constantly monitor your bandwidth usage every month to ensure you don't go over your data limit. When you do go over the monthly limit you are either cut off completely or you have to top-up your data (Gb's) at additional costs. Usually an expensive exercise.

However, with MWeb's new uncapped ADSL packages, those days are over. Now you can download as much as you want for a fixed price, the way it should be! There were other uncapped products in the market before this but they were quite expensive. MWeb's new packages are quite affordable.

MWeb's new uncapped packages
(Can sign up from 22 March, available from 1 April)

CONSUMER products: Shaped, month-to-month)

Data only (therefore excluding line rental from Telkom)
  • Uncapped ADSL 384Kbps: R219
  • Uncapped ADSL 512Kbps: R299
  • Uncapped ADSL 4096Kbps: R539

All inclusive (data and line rental)
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 384Kbps: R349
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 512Kbps: R599
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 4096Kbps: R899

BUSINESS products: Unshaped, 12 month contract)

Data only (therefore excluding line rental from Telkom)
  • Uncapped ADSL 384Kbps: R499
  • Uncapped ADSL 512Kbps: R699
  • Uncapped ADSL 4096Kbps: R1 999

All inclusive (data and line rental)
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 384Kbps: R629
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 512Kbps: R999
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 4096Kbps: R2 259
Shaped - Web browsing and emails get priority on the network
Unshaped - All protocols on the network have the same priority, so whether you're browsing the web or downloading on a peer-to-network, you should get similar download speeds

Cheap, cheaper, cheapest

These are the cheapest uncapped broadband packages currently available in South Africa and will surely start a real price war amongst Internet Service Providers. MWeb is a big player and they have the ability to shake up the market. They're getting their international bandwidth from both the SAT-3 and SEACOM undersea cables. With the arrival of more undersea cables to South Africa, like WACS and EASSy during the next two years, wholesale prices for international bandwidth are expected to fall dramatically which in turn will lead to even cheaper packages for consumers of broadband in this country.

Terms and Conditions strongly worded - could put of power users!

MWeb's ADSL Terms and Conditions page (as on 18 March 2010) made me frown, especially paragraph 5.6 and 5.10:

5.6 You may not restrict, inhibit or interfere with the ability of any person to access, use or enjoy the Internet or the ADSL Services, or create an unusually large burden on our network, including, without limitation, continuously uploading or downloading streaming video or audio; continuous FTP uploading or downloading

Well, with an uncapped product I definitely expect to be allowed to listen to online radio streaming all day long if I wanted to, same goes for video streaming! Also, no continuous downloads allowed? That would effectively eliminate all power users. It will therefore be interesting to see how seriously MWeb enforces these conditions because if they do, I for one can't sign up with MWeb.

5.10 You may not use the ADSL Service for unattended automated operation, unless otherwise agreed. You may stay connected as long as you are actively using that connection. You further agree not to use Internet applications for the purpose of simulating network activity to avoid session inactivity disconnection.

Par 5.10 is simply ridiculous and hails from the days of dialup connections. The whole point of using ADSL is to be connected 24/7 in the first place.

Proof is in the pudding

One concern is that MWeb is not exactly renowned for their support levels if compared to other medium-sized ISP's and considering that they will get an influx of people signing up for these new packages, they will have to up their service levels considerably.

Network stability and contention ratios are also very important factors. Cheap broadband means nothing if your online experience suffers due to constant irregular browsing/download speeds. Hopefully MWeb won't have these issues because with these low prices MWeb is clearly vying for the position as market leader in the consumer broadband space in South Africa. It will be interesting to see what the rival ISP's come up with during the next few months!

The only other drawback is that Telkom owns the 'local loop' (lines from exchanges to your residence) and they charge a hefty line rental fee for it. It would be great if Telkom could lower (or drop!) the line rental in future because then South Africans will end up paying broadband prices that are truly in line with first world countries.

Related links
MWeb scraps data caps - Gadget
MWeb throws down gauntlet to rivals - TechCentral
MWeb's uncapped packages - MWeb

1 comment:

  1. Yes, great by MWeb to start the whole uncapped price war. Now VoxPro/lantic, Openweb has followed as well and released their reduced prices within 24 hours.

    Another smaller but popular ISP, Afrihost, announced they will release their new uncapped prices next week as well which should be in line with MWeb's prices.

    Yes, now Telkom just has to wake up and lower those high line rental prices!


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