MTN uncapped throttling fiasco


MTN has angered several of its uncapped fixed-LTE and fixed-5G customers by making two sudden changes to the fair usage policy (FUP) of its MyMTN Home Wi-Fi plans within two months.

The MyMTN Home Wi-Fi plans offer uncapped mobile data on month-to-month or contract packages that support fixed-LTE on the entry-level options and fixed-5G on the mid-level to top-end plans.

Prices vary between R269 and R999 for speeds ranging from 10Mbps to around 500Mbps, making the offering fairly competitive with fixed-5G from Rain and uncapped fibre-to-the-home (FTTH).

However, MTN applies an FUP that throttles speeds to its Home Wi-Fi plans, which neither of the other two options has.

For a long time after MTN launched the packages, the FUP was arguably quite reasonable.

Even on the entry-level, the minimum throttled speed of 2Mbps was 20% of the maximum 10Mbps speed before the FUP kicked in. Following MTN’s changes, it has been reduced to 512kbps, 5% of the maximum speed.

One MyBroadband reader who complained about the adjustments explained he signed up for the Premium package in early March 2024.

This plan provides speeds of up to 35Mbps for the first 500GB of consumption in the month.

When the reader took out the plan, the speeds would be throttled to 10Mbps after consuming 500GB.

Less than a month after he signed up, MTN notified all MyMTN Home Wi-Fi customers that it was reducing the throttled speeds on all packages, starting 1 May 2024.

MTN reduced the reader’s speed after hitting their FUP threshold from 10Mbps to 2Mbps.

At the end of May 2024, MTN again notified subscribers that it was restricting speeds further, dropping the reader’s throttled speed from 2Mbps to 1Mbps.

Overall, his throttled speed was reduced by 90% from the throttled speed he had signed up for.

It also is just around 2.9% of the 35Mbps speed he gets before reaching the FUP threshold, compared to 29% when he took out the package.

The table below summarises how the MyMTN Home Wi-Fi FUP changes impacted each package’s throttled speeds after hitting their respective FUP thresholds.

MyMTN Home Wi-Fi fixed-lte FUP changes
Plan and regular speeds FUP threshold Original throttled speeds Throttled speeds from 1 May 2024 Throttled speeds from 1 July 2024 Throtted speed relative to max speed
Old vs new 
Starter 10Mbps 100GB 2Mbps 1Mbps 512kbps 20% vs 5%
Pro 20Mbps 300GB 5Mbps 1Mbps 512kbps 25% vs 2.5%
Premium 35Mbps 500GB 10Mbps 2Mbps 1Mbps 29% vs 2.9%
Ultra 60Mbps 800GB 10Mbps 5Mbps 2Mbps 17% vs 3.3%
Infinite Best-effort (as high as 500Mbps) 1.5TB 15Mbps 5Mbps 2Mbps 3% vs 0.4%

An FUP is typically part of the terms of service that allows a broadband service provider to impose certain specified limits on a connection to manage network stability.

FUPs are common on uncapped mobile data packages in South Africa and help ensure that all subscribers on the network receive the best experience possible.

Cellular networks in South Africa are generally congested due to the limited mobile frequency spectrum available to operators and the fact that most people access the Internet through their phones.

Throttling for substantial usage is often a necessary compromise on affordable packages that could be in higher demand.

While FUPs were previously common for fixed-line broadband, the greater capacity provided by fibre networks has seen them all but disappear.

What makes MTN’s changes unusual is that it implemented two adjustments over a short period.

Fortunately, all the plans are month-to-month packages, so unsatisfied customers can cancel and switch to other providers without penalties.

MTN told MyBroadband that the changes were necessary to maintain high service quality and protect the integrity of its network.

“There are some instances where high data usage customers do impact the network and the experience of other customers,” it stated.

The  operator said it was in the process of offering selected customers alternative options for their Home Internet needs as well as adjusting and implementing its FUP across all plans.

“The selected customers typically have high data usage on their current Home Internet packages,” MTN said.

“Alternative options, including MTN Fibre, may be better suited to their needs, and may even reduce their current monthly fees.”

MTN said those customers with access to fibre have the option to migrate to a higher-end Home Internet plan that includes a bigger FUP and download speeds.

“They may also opt to purchase a Speed Recovery or Speed Booster Bundle,” MTN said.

“These bundles provide the flexibility to restore your original download speed or upgrade to a higher download speed for a limited period of time.”


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