Safaricom last week announced that its home fibre double speeds were permanent. On the same breath, the company announced that its home internet is no longer unlimited and introduced a “fair usage policy” (FUP) that will cap usage to a certain volume.
Safaricom explains in its terms and conditions that “Customers will be given a bundle to browse at either 3Mbps or 5Mbps. Once you hit the threshold, the speeds will be throttled to 1 mbps for the validity period of the bundle. The 4G for home plans are subject to a Fair Usage Policy.”
The telco further breaks it down as follows:
|Package||Speeds (Mbps)||Price||Fair usage limit||Speeds after FUP (Mbps)|
What this means is users who exhaust the allocated FUP threshold will have their speeds reduced to either 1Mbps or 3Mbps depending on their package. For instance, a user on the Bronze package will have 500GB of data to use, upon reaching this limit, speeds will reduce to 1Mbps.
A number of users have taken to the interwebs to complain about the changes with some claiming that the company doubled the speeds to hide the fact that the internet is now limited. Below are some reactions.
Safaricom doubled internet speeds to hide that their fibre internet is now LIMITED!!!
— mavavya (@dexxe) February 14, 2021
I think if you have two heavy users in the house (mostly gamers), you may reach that limit but yeah, it's on the higher side.
— SARUNI ᴼᴳ (@SaruniBM) February 14, 2021
Although a few people have panicked over the news, Safaricom has actually confirmed that 90 percent of its market does not hit the 500GB or 1TB threshold. The company analyzed customers’ usage habits and then developed the policy around them.
“To put it into perspective, we checked with Safaricom to see how much we spent and neither of us passed the 400GB mark. Safaricom notes the average usage is capped at 120GB. Mine reached highs of 387 GB but that is because I game for at least 3-4 hrs a day on XBOX and have five phones and two laptops connected to the network. Not to mention having a family with members acting like they are paid to finish every Netflix series.” A user wrote on Gadgets Africa.
The move is mainly meant to deter resellers, who illegally sell bandwidth to third parties and thus hit or exceed the limits in the process. Resellers mainly subscribe to one of the packages and then get an industrial router which they use to distribute bandwidth to more people at a fee. This means that if Safaricom does not cap the limit, resellers will illegally profit from the Telco’s business.
Fair Usage Policy is not a new thing. In fact, it is fairly common with internet providers. Some Safaricom users unknowingly believe that Zuku does not have a similar policy, however, the company has an existing FUP. During peak usage hours the Fair Use Policy system reduces the speed for those customers who have already consumed large volumes (in Megabytes) during the respective day and month. In their FUP, the company says it reserves the right to keep the bandwidth limit at their discretion and will apply certain measures to ensure fairness.
“Depending on individual service package, we will apply a Fair Use limit on a customer’s download volume. Users downloading an amount of data in excess of this limit will trigger the “Fair Usage Policy”. We may manage the application of the Fair Use Policy in our absolute discretion, including the setting of the appropriate data limit. Examples of the measures that we may take to apply the Fair Use Policy include bandwidth throttling, metering or even disconnection of the service.” Zuku says in its FUP.
the issue causing the uproar could very well be Safaricom’s transparency.
Safaricom commands the majority of the Home fibre with 33.5 percent of the market share. The company overtook Zuku to be the No.1 provider for home fibre services during the Covid-19 pandemic. Safaricom offered double speeds for customers who were mostly working and studying from home.