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Sat Jan 31 05:50:53 CAT 2015

Uncapped ADSL? Not really

LEONIE WAGNER | 24 October, 2013 00:36

In a David-versus-Goliath battle, two Internet users have unsuccessfully taken on MWEB after discovering its "uncapped" ADSL is, in fact, capped.

But, instead of the justice the two sought, in a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority this week, Joshua Gilbert and Ryan Roxo were found to have abused their Internet usage by regularly spending more than 15 hours a day downloading content.

Gilbert and Roxo independently lodged complaints against MWEB after receiving several letters warning that if they continued their "repeated instances of continuous bulk downloads over prolonged periods", their services would be cancelled.

Over one month, Roxo downloaded the equivalent of 174 DVDs' worth of content and Gilbert 64 DVDs' worth.

But, the two argued that the promise of "uncapped" usage was the reason they signed up.

Roxo was attracted to it by an online advertisement promising "1Mbps Uncapped ADSL from R199p/m", and Gilbert relied on information on MWEB's website, under "frequently asked questions".

In this section, MWEB stated: "There is NO base cap. This applies only to our CAPPED products", and "Uncapped = uncapped, no less than that."

Yesterday, Gilbert, 66, a retired Durban high school teacher, denied abusing the system.

"I used their definition of 'uncapped'. [It's like] a buffet restaurant saying: 'Eat as much as you like' and then saying 'You've had two plates, now go'," he said.

But MWEB argued that it was fully entitled to terminate customers' uncapped services if they continued to abuse the system after receiving sufficient warning.

"If one or a few customers abuse the service and effectively consume so much data that others are prejudiced as a result, such measures are necessary and reasonable," it argued.

The authority agreed, finding there was nothing misleading about MWEB's advertising.

It said it was "faced with a conundrum" as the amount of data used by the two appeared to be "excessive".

When they signed up, they accepted MWEB's acceptable usage policy, which included agreeing "not to abuse the system in a manner that would prejudice other customers", the authority found.

"Persisting with impermissible actions despite being warned is not indicative of reasonable behaviour," the authority found.

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