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Uncapped ADSL – No Saviour – What they are not telling us.

Mar27

Written by:
2010/03/27 05:50 PM RssIcon

Uncapped ADSL only a decade late, but there are still are some hidden agendas.

Internet Recently in South Africa we have been hit by some price wars by various ISP’s. Starting off with MWeb who shocked the market making an announcement of uncapped ADSL. Soon to be followed by the likes of Afrihost and Axsess.

In South Africa many people went gaga over this and rushed off to purchase their new ADSL packages.

But beware not all is as it seems.

So far I have not heard any raving reviews and news about this uncapped ADSL. What I have heard is that some are complaining that their uncapped connection is now somewhat slower than what it originally was.

Why is this? Well it’s because of a thing called “Content Ratio”. MWeb and other ISP’s have alluded to the fact that their uncapped packages are real, no limits, no day/night splitting. But no word on Content Ratio.

What is contention ratio?

Basically contention ratio is the amount of people sharing the same line as you. The international norm is 20:1 even 50:1. This means that you could share your line with 50 other users. This is ok, because the likely how that you all will be downloading data at the exact same moment is unlikely. But the higher the ratio the more likely that scenario becomes.

So if an ISP has a 20:1 ratio, you could end up only using 1/20th of your initial line speed. You could end up with an actual 200k line. But keep in mind that this does not happen often.

Uncapped ADSL makes use of high content ratios that allow ISP’s to give it to the users at cheaper costs, although capped ADSL also makes use of this content ratio the uncapped ratios is significantly higher than that of capped.

I had to ask the question, how come MWeb all of a sudden could afford to make uncapped available. Surely they are not going to do so at a loss. They only way they will do it, and still make a profit, is to increase their contention ratios

No ISPs including MWEB have published (as far as I am aware) their contention ratios. All they have published is the international norm. That means squat. But I have heard figures of a 200:1 ratio. Which means that uncapped you could be sharing your line with 199 other users.

At that ratio, uncapped means absolutely nothing because you wont even be able to download any significant amount in any period of time. You probably wont be able to reach what you would normally reach on a capped line.

If, as we expect, there is a flood to use uncapped bandwidth, users are going to download as much as they can. This could mean that the likelihood of your contention ratio being used is very high.

So a 4096 line with a 200:1 Content Ratio will effectively be a 20k line. Heck, my 56k modem is faster than that.

But realistically speaking ISP do not only have one 4096 line. They might have a 100mb line section. Which they will break up further still. Then the result will have a determined contention ratio. Still at 200:1 you are holding the wrong end of the stick.

Uncapped may not be worth it

Based on this, uncapped might not be worth it. You might actually be getting less. Will the ISP’s actually do this. Well the question you have to ask is, when has any ISP done anything that does not benefit them financially. ISP’, Telkom, etc in South Africa are here to milk the user dry. They will not do anything that will outright benefit us. If it were so, then we would see true connection speeds, true broadband, and true savings.

So for the time being I am staying with my capped ADSL, and will wait and see other people’s experiences.

Before you go and jump on the uncapped bandwidth bandwagon, make sure that you understand all the facts. Difficult I admit, because not all the facts are presented.

Conclusion

Are we as internet uses once again been abused, lied to and just completely taken advantage of? Are we really getting worthwhile uncapped ADSL or is it just candy coated sales talk with no real substance involved? We wait and see.

Have you bought any of the uncapped packages? What have you experienced as far as actual bandwidth speed is concerned? Please let me know in the comments below.

Update: Changed Content to Contention gramatical error thank for the heads up Wogan

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