Vodacom SA to throttle Blackberry speeds

South African cellular network Vodacom will now throttle the speeds of Blackberry users in a bid to curb the behaviour of those it claims “are abusing the service”.

According to Vodacom, such users will now face their connections being downgraded from 3G to 2G (GPRS or EDGE) once they hit 100MB or more. There is currently no known date of when the speed cap will come under effect. Users of Blackberry Enterprise Services will remain unaffected.

A statement from Vodacom’s official Facebook page explains the reasoning behind the decision: “Vodacom also studied usage patterns to better understand the causes of congestion at peak times and one surprising finding was that more than 95 percent of BlackBerry data usage was attributable to less than 5 percent of users”.

In a statement defending the decision, Vodacom’s chief technical office Andries Delport said, “We need to ensure that all BlackBerry users are able to enjoy the service that they pay for. When we realised that such a small minority was using the bulk of the capacity, we decided to implement measures that will ensure that Blackberry users will enjoy a better browsing experience overall”.

Steps have been taken to ensure that the 95 percent of BlackBerry users who are currently using the service fairly are not impacted by those who are abusing the service. The 5 percent of the base who are not using the service for what it was intended will have their connection speed reduced from 3G to 2G levels.

Vodacom has promised that all browsing and Blackberry services such as BBM will remain uncapped, but for the five percent of users who exceed the new limits, their speeds will be heavily affected. 3G speeds can edge over the 2MB mark, while 2G users will have to contend with GPRS/EDGE speeds, or 320KBS maximum.

To place it in perspective, 100MB gives the user the choice of “spending” their data on either:

  • 125000 tweets or Facebook status updates
  • Under an hour of streaming video
  • More than two hours of Skype at 40MBs per hour
  • 2720 emails with attachments

This is provided that 3G speeds are used, as 2G speeds would barely allow a user to consume any more than 20MB per day.

The move is similar to mobile data caps put in place in the UK and the US.

Vodacom promises that the speed cap will only affect abusers of the service, improving speeds of the regular users. The new Blackberry Usage Policy goes into further detail.



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