MWeb wins ADSL advertising standards battle

Two men lost a battle against internet service provider MWeb after claiming the company was misleading customers with its uncapped ADSL offering, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said this week.

According to the ASA's ruling on the matter, posted on its website, complainants Ryan Roxo and Joshua Gilbert were abusing the uncapped offering, which was affecting the data consumption of MWeb's other customers.

MWeb explained to the ASA that Roxo's internet usage for the month of January 2012 had amounted to about 818 gigabytes of data.

"This could be interpreted as downloading at near maximum speed [which is not likely] for at least 16 hours each day for the entire month, which is virtually impossible without making use of unattended, automated downloads," MWeb said.

Gilbert downloaded approximately 300GB worth of data.

"This would require an average of 15 hours a day spent downloading at near-maximum speed for the entire month."

'Continuous bulk downloads'
MWeb said this contravened the acceptable use policy (AUP), which was part of the contract and which both men agreed to.

The policy was put in place to ensure the sustained performance of the service for all its customers.

The men said they received letters from MWeb warning them they had " … repeated instances of continuous bulk downloads over prolonged periods", and that failure to address this would result in " … steps to cancel your service".

They argued that the product should not have been described as "uncapped" if MWeb was monitoring use and terminating connections based on volumes of data consumed.

MWeb said the word "capped" referred to packages that allowed a customer a predetermined amount of data, and terminated connection once the customer reached this predetermined limit.

"Uncapped" referred to packages where a customer connection was never terminated, irrespective of how much data they used.

However, it was accepted that instances of "throttling" or "shaping" – slowing or delaying service – might well occur at some threshold levels to ensure sustainability of the service for all customers.

Exploiting the system
"Unlimited" referred to instances where there were literally no limits, ie, no throttling or shaping and no restrictions on use.

MWeb said the abusive manner in which the men exploited the system related to consumer behaviour with regard to uploading and/or downloading, and not the amount of data consumed as such.

The case was dismissed on October 22.

"There is nothing before the directorate to suggest that customers who abide by the respondent's AUP would see their connection terminated for any reason, which in turn means that the references to offering 'Uncapped' internet are not misleading," the ASA ruled. – Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Guest Author

Related stories

Internet access has become a human right, data inquiry hears

Media Monitoring Africa suggested several solutions including free access to the internet at all government sites such as schools and libraries

Fibrehoods vs Futurehoods: A battle won by consumers

As fibre-to-the-home rolls out in earnest across suburban South Africa, the army with the most weapons is being left behind on the field of battle.

ASA rules against Sanral e-tag adverts

The Advertising Standards Authority says Sanral is unable to prove it had sold 1.2-million e-tags, despite claiming this in adverts.

Telkom’s apology: Too little, too late

The winds of change are sweeping through Telkom, or at least that's what its leadership would like us to believe. But it might already be too late.

New Age: Dawn of advertising riches with no circulation figures

Thousands of unsold copies of the New Age newspaper were returned to its offices daily, according to a former employee who spoke to the M&G.

Watchdog urged to sniff around secrecy Bill adverts again

The ASA has declined to probe the government's adverts about the secrecy Bill, but the DA's Lindiwe Mazibuko is trying to get it to change its mind.

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Vitamin therapy is for drips

It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say

Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced

Murder of anti-mining activist emboldens KZN community

Mam’Ntshangase was described as a fierce critic of mining and ambassador for land rights.

Unite with Nigeria’s ‘Speak Up’ generation protesting against police brutality

Photos of citizens draped in the bloodied flag have spread around the world in the month the country should be celebrating 60 years of independence

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday