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

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Guest Author

Tension over who’s boss of courts

In a letter, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questions whether Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has acted constitutionally

SABC sued over ‘bad’ clip of Ramaphosa

A senior employee at the public broadcaster wants compensation for claims of ‘sabotage’

Soundtrack to a pandemic: Africa’s best coronavirus songs

Drawing on lessons from Ebola, African artists are using music to convey public health messaging. And they are doing it in style

In East Africa, the locusts are coming back for more

In February the devastating locust swarms were the biggest seen in East Africa for 70 years. Now they’re even bigger

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories