Uncapped ADSL – The Facts

2 April 2010 by , 14 Comments
Uncapped ADSL – The Facts

Recently, a spate of ISP’s launched their own Uncapped ADSL offerings throughout the country. While this was welcomed by many consumers, it has left a “bad taste” with many as Uncapped as it turns out, really isn’t uncapped after all.

Explain it to me

So let’s begin by trying understand the definition of Uncapped Internet. Simply put, it means you do not have any limits to the amount of data you can download. This makes it a great option for people using data to download torrents, movies, music and other types of applications or programs that require fair amounts of Gigabyte usage. In theory, it’s a great idea and it really opens up the internet within South Africa to a vast array of activities. However, the problems associated with these Uncapped Internet Offerings are many.

Think of the internet within South Africa as a sprinkler system with a tap at the start (Your ISP) and all the sprinkler outlets connected to the main line (That’s you and you friends.)  Common logic would assume that any setup like this require a certain amount water pressure in order for the sprinkler system to be effective and used to it’s full potential. If you have too much water pressure, the sprinklers connected to the tap line will work great – the pressure will be powerful, the sprinklers would disperse the water exactly the way you envisage it would. Add another 60 or 70 sprinklers to the same system – all of a sudden, the water pressure drops and your not receiving the same quality you were before. The sprinklers (That’s your internet connection at home) don’t have enough supply to do the job correctly. The solution is two fold, either lower the amount of sprinklers in the garden, or get a bigger tap!

The above analogy is theoretically the state of Uncapped ADSL in South Africa. The tap just aint big enough to feed all the sprinklers. Today, South Africa has two distinguished undersea cables namely, SAT 3 and Seacom. Most ISP’s still rely on the SAT 3 which carries the majority of SA’s internet and data traffic out the country. The problem lies within the infrastructure and not the offering itself.

Tell me more

While Gridhost has the ability to offer uncapped solutions at these low prices, we’ve decided to wait until things get better. This should happen with the arrival of the WACS cable, due to land in June/July 2010.

Further complicating things are the restrictions that ISP’s are putting in place on your usage. Some do this by way of lowering or more commonly known, “throttling” your line speed after you reach a certain amount of data downloaded. This causes a retardation of the service your paying for. For example, if you have 4 Megabyte line with Telkom, your ISP can throttle your line speed back to 512k and in some cases (depending on the amount the data you’ve downloaded) 348K. The point of doing this is to limit the amount of data you can download in a certain time frame. So even though your paying a premium for having a quick line, your at the mercy of your ISP’s acceptable usage policy or AUP.

Some ISP’s will actually stop you at around +-200 Gigabytes of data, effectively rendering your service unusable. While the controls mentioned in the paragraph above are meant to prevent this, unfortunately, there is still a CAP system in place.

The main problem with the uncapped model is business school 101 – Supply and Demand. Currently, the demand for uncapped ADSL is stagerring. Everyone wants to get online and surf till the sun comes up while paying a flat fee. The supply (Let’s go back to the water tap train of thought here) is simply not enough. The main ISP providing this service to it’s resellers only has a certain line speed out of the country, which means it can only send so much data out at one time. The cause and effect syndrome come in to play where there are just too many sprinklers and not enough water power to fuel the system itself. Uncapped users are likely to see huge degradation of service while playing online games, downloading and general surfing. Much like our beloved Eskom, the ADSL “Grid” is at capacity. Luckily enough, we have a couple of ADSL Grids in South Africa and users on the SAIX network (That’s what Gridhost run’s off) are not going to see any degradation in service at all.


There is also an argument that sustainability is a factor with offering an Uncapped service. We stand firmly behind this – It’s simply not sustainable, here’s why:

Any individual doing business with a company generally wants three things. Good Service, a promise on delivery of that service and the peace of mind that the business is not going under anytime soon. The facts of life are, that simply put, a business must generate a proffit in order to be successful unless you have a way of winning Government Tenders… In order to generate a proffit, any business must make sure it’s offerings are in fact, profitable. It’s not hard to understand that if a company makes a proffit of R5.00 on a product and all of a sudden see’s it’s profit dipping to R2.50 alarm bells should start ringing. Remember, the consumer wants the service, the promise of the service delivery and assurance. If your proffits are slashed by 50% (Maybe more.. hint hint..), all of a sudden, you might see one of two scenarios. Other product offerings from the company jump in cost to justify the other products price cuts or, staff get laid off. Either way, you as the consumer as going to feel the effects of this somewhere down the line and this sadly, effects the entire country. With price jumps, your going to find yourself paying more for services you already might have with the company. With staff cuts, your going to find yourself sitting on the support line for hours talking to poorly trained staff who think that an IP Address is actually your billing address. The greater effects on the skilled labor economy can be easy to see.

In Summary

We believe that South Africa is simply not ready for uncapped solutions at this stage. Gridhost is a profitable company who employs the finest staff for your support pleasure. We make use of the best technology to ensure your surfing and hosting experience is a great one, not an average one. We make decisions on our product offerings by studying the results of them first before we commit to anything because we’re forced to. By taking these steps, we protect our biggest asset – You, the consumer.

14 Responses to “Uncapped ADSL – The Facts”

  1. Schalk 3 April 2010 at 12:29 am #

    Really nice article thanks for the helpful info.

  2. Gridhost 3 April 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    Hi Schalk – thanks for the kind words – Are you a client of ours? We’d like to throw you a credit for your account.

  3. Coach Designer Handbags 8 April 2010 at 9:56 am #

    Every time I come to blog.gridhost.co.za there is another exciting post to read. A friend of mine was talking to me about this topic several weeks ago. I think I will e-mail my friend the url here and see what they say.

  4. WebStuff 12 April 2010 at 10:40 am #

    It is all very well explaining why you are not offering it, but in the mean time you are missing an opportunity. Most people do not understand any of this and just want DSL always connected at a controllable cost –> Uncapped.

  5. Gridhost 12 April 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    Hi There,

    Thanks for the feedback!

    We’d rather offer a stable service than provide a service that is not fluent.
    We certainly don’t consider ourselves to be missing opportunities as our research has shown more people migrating back to other providers rather than hanging around on an uncapped solution that does not work very well.

  6. DesignerWall 14 April 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    The worst thing is that the uncapped packages these days block any sort of peer to peer downloads. I might as well delete all my bookmarks then. I cannot wait for you guys to get your uncapped package up and ready. ill be the first customer!

  7. Mitesh 23 April 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Thanks for the informative write up!Having been connected to the internet since 2000 when I first had a dial up connection, then upgrading to IDSL then to ADSL and now currently uncapped ADSL, its really disappointing that South Africa is still facing throttling problems, and to think that we are still far behind other countries in terms of broadband communication. I eagerly await the launch of the new WACS cable and will definately be the first to try out your new ADSL uncapped offering. Lets hope you guys can make the difference and change broadband in SA for good…Good Luck!!!

  8. Gridhost 23 April 2010 at 9:39 am #

    Hi Mitesh,

    Glad you found our article informative – Uncapped at the moment brings back those great memories of the dialup days. We look forward to having you on board!

    The Gridhost Team

  9. Jobe 18 August 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Da first internet provider 2 tel me da truth about da uncapped. Thanks for the info, looking forward to the Uncapped internet.

  10. Raashid 23 August 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    Seems people fail to read the terms and conditions of their ISP’s and get surprised when they find their service is in actual fact shaped.
    To be honest, South Africa is very slow when it comes to technology, out of my years of studying in the IT field, research and business planning for IT, i have come to realize that other countries such as uk, japan, us etc. Had uncapped a very long time before we had. To top it off, countries like Japan actually have standard internet lines such as T1. Whether this is true or not is debatable
    In if any South African where to pay for such fast lines, we would need to be really rich and i mean really rich to get these speeds. South African ISP’s is therefore overpricing it’s customers in not only internet but other technological services as well.
    However, we will definitely be seeing a significant drop in prices across all ISP’s when the new cables arrive which promise to provide speeds of roughly 1.4 Tbps
    Another thing that South Africa lacks is choice. ISP’s give broadband to it’s clients but it is only ADSL, if i was an ISP i would start looking into providing not only ADSL but SDSL or for larger companies that could afford it, VDSL.
    Hint hint gridhost, if you can implement this, you’d be the first, and ONLY company in SA to provide this.

  11. Gridhost 24 August 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Hi Raashid,

    Great comment! The problem within this service is laying your own cable would be a pre-requesit in order to supply such services.

    We do however have some exciting new products up our sleeves which should come online later in the year.


    The Gridhost Team

  12. Qyrone 2 November 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Hey guys,
    I’m looking into getting a nice uncapped line, mostly for online gaming.. Just curious, i know alot of people are limited because it’s shaped,
    I want to download a few things aswell, Is there anyway of getting an unshaped-uncapped?

  13. Gridhost 22 November 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Hi Qyronne,

    Currently we don’t offer Uncapped ADSL or Unshaped.

    I’m sure a quick Google will turn something up for you.

    The Gridhost Team

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