Mweb has sent warning letters to a portion of its user base in which the Internet service provider (ISP) told subscribers that it would slow down their ADSL speeds if they do not change their usage patterns.
Irate users took to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and the MyBroadband forums to voice their displeasure, to which Mweb responded with the reasoning behind their decision.
According to a spokesperson for the ISP, the measures they previously used to enforce their acceptable use policy (AUP) have proved to be ineffective in managing excessive usage patterns.
For this reason, Mweb said it would be automating enforcement of its AUP by applying temporary speed limits to users with excessive behaviour based on a rolling 30 day window.
Only 3% of its users have received warning letters, Mweb said.
Mweb later emphasised that users that did not receive a letter will not be affected by the changes.
According to Mweb, users who were issued a letter, received one based on their usage trend over the past few months and not their current usage.
Mweb said that it believes those that have have received a letter exhibit usage patterns that would most likely be deemed excessive by any of the uncapped providers in the market.
“As is the case with all networks, you have a mix of users, and at the very top-end you have a small group who consume a significant and disproportionate amount of your capacity,” CEO of Mweb ISP, Derek Hershaw told MyBroadband in response to questions.
“When that starts to have a negative impact on the experience of the rest of your customers, you have to intervene,” he added.
“We’ve always managed abusive behaviour in the past and, even though we’re enforcing our fair-use policy a little bit more strictly now, it’s still a very small portion of customers who are affected.”
What behaviour must change?
Users have expressed concern at being told to adjust their behaviour without being informed what exactly they need to change.
A spokesperson for Mweb said that they could unfortunately not provide users with a numeric limit on the amount of data they may use before it is considered a violation of the AUP.
“Please understand that this was the first question we anticipated when deciding on this change and its probably the one question that we can’t answer,” Mweb said, adding that no ISP publishes a fixed limit for their uncapped fair usage policies.
“The manner in which we apply the policy is based on a combination of network performance factors coupled with a 30 day rolling usage window for the individual user,” the ISP said.
Instead the ISP provided general guidelines, such as not running unattended bulk downloads and rather spreading downloads out.
Asked if they could offer more guidelines to affected users, Hershaw said that one thing they could do is know exactly who has access to their network.
“We come across cases where customers have set up unprotected Wi-Fi networks and half the neighbourhood is sharing their line,” Hershaw said.
“Other than that we’re just asking customers to be a bit more discriminate and discerning about what they download,” he added. “Downloading every bit of content you can find when you probably have no intention of watching even half of it, will see you run into problems.”
Responding to a specific query from a forum member that we put to him, Hershaw said that streaming movies on a regular basis “is not going to be a problem.”
The text from Mweb’s email is reproduced below:
We want to ensure the best possible experience for our customers by managing the quality of our network. We monitor the usage on our network and make sure that customers are not abusing certain defined parameters. This is in line with our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
Your usage is close to exceeding these parameters. We will enforce our AUP from 1 September, and should you continue to show excessive usage patterns, and therefore exceed these parameters, you will experience slower connection speeds (while we manage your bandwidth usage). As soon as your usage patterns stabilise your connection speeds will return to normal.
Here are some tips to avoid excessive usage:
- Don’t leave your connection running all day (downloading heavy content);
- Know who is using your Internet connection and make sure it’s secure;
- Or, upgrade to another MWEB package to accommodate your higher data usage.
MWEB Uncapped ADSL Feedback thread on MyBroadband