Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Afrihost: uncapped ADSL – what an amazing email!

Yup, I’m a client of Afrihost – so now you know.  Great price for a great offering… If you haven’t heard yet, then, well, really – where have you been?  South Africa’s uncapped ADSL war is well under way with MWeb offering their uncapped ADSL @R219 per month, then Afrihost following soon after undercutting the MWeb price

Here’s the Afrihost offering: 

image image
Yes, starting from R197 per month (excluding ADSL line), no contract, month to month.
Read here for more about the Afrihost offering.

But that’s not what this article is about.  I wanted to publicly congratulate Afrihost’s CEO, Gian Visser for the excellent email that he sent to his clients about the uncapped ADSL offering.  As I read it I found myself saying to myself what a well written and attention grabbing email!  Hat-tip to you Gian and judging by your Tweet “Response to uncapped ADSL offerings has been epic. We're working flat out to deal with all enquiries #Afrihost”, the offering is being received extremely well.  It seems that it deserves it!

I really love the pizza metaphor/analogy.  Also, there are paragraphs explaining to the un-initiated where the pitfalls are, and even explain the cost cross-over points when it makes sense to go for UNcapped or not (nice, very nice).  All you marketing types out there – study this, and study it well!

To all that didn’t receive the email, here it is – enjoy!:

From: Gian -
Sent: 24 March 2010
To: HandyTechTipper
Subject: Is Uncapped ADSL right for you?

Hi HandyTechTipper

Today we're launching an exciting, 'top-secret' product that we have been testing over the past few months that we believe will change the face of the internet in South Africa.

Last week a similar product was launched to much fanfare by another ISP and to be honest it did surprise us that someone beat us to the punch - So massive kudos to them!

However, we take pride in being an ADSL market innovator so the good news is we are also ready to offer this to you now - And at the best price available in the market today!

There's a classic truth in business that in order to be successful, simply find out what clients crave, then create it and give it to them.

When we launched our R29 per GB offer almost 6 months ago to the day we knew that South African users craved more affordable ADSL.

At that time most ISP's charged around R70 per GB (and many still do!) so our revolutionary move really stunned and shook the ISP industry.

When we announced the offering we stated that one of the things we hoped would happen was that through that offer we would put pressure on the bigger incumbents and that they'd be forced to come to the party and reduce their prices.

We sincerely believed that we could be the catalyst that caused broadband prices to plummet in South Africa and that the internet would become more and more affordable for everyone.

Well the absolutely fantastic news is that 6 months later this has now become a reality in South Africa!

So it's my pleasure today to announce that we will be launching the first phase of Afrihost Uncapped ADSL!

And the great news is that our Uncapped packages will start from only R197 per month.

You pay a flat monthly fee and you can use the internet freely without having a cap or a set amount of GBs to use each month!

Please note though that Uncapped will not be the perfect solution for everyone - I'll go over some of the considerations you need to take when deciding between Uncapped and Capped later in this mail.

We will offer different uncapped packages based on the speed you wish to download at viz. 384 kbps, 512 kbps and 4096 kbps.

Here are the details of our new uncapped packages that we will be offering:
(The prices do not include the applicable line rental costs through Telkom - The costs are for the ADSL data only)

For Uncapped 386 kbps you'll pay R197 per month
For Uncapped 512 kbps you'll pay R297 per month
For Uncapped 4096 kbps you'll pay R497 per month

*Please Note*
The Uncapped 4096 is available for purchase right now through our website or via your Client Zone.

Initially we are only making the Uncapped 4096 kbps package available so that we can comprehensively test our Uncapped performance.

We pride ourselves in the service we deliver and we always want to give the absolute best to our clients - So we want to fully test these uncapped solutions before they become part of our standard product offering.
We want to ensure that any snags are ironed out before we make them globally available.
We value our reputation of providing great products and service too highly to risk rushing this offering.
As we originally planned to do with our R29/GB offering we are limiting the number of signups for now.

However, if you do signup for one of the available packages in the initial beta testing stage you will lock this package and price in for as long as you are with us (although we are not planning on increasing prices)
The Uncapped 512 and Uncapped 386 will be available for purchase as soon as we've finished monitoring the Uncapped 4096 performance.

You can leave your email with us on our site for any of the other options and we will keep you fully updated and let you know as soon as they are available.

Here are answers to some questions you may have: =========
Are there any contracts for our Uncapped service?
You can cancel before the 25th of any month in your Client Zone and your service will stop on the first of the next month. If you cancel after the 25th then you will be charged for the following month and your service will be cancelled on the 1st of the following month

Where do I sign up and if I get it today will I pay the full monthly amount?
You can upgrade to Uncapped (but only to Uncapped 4096 at the moment) in the 'My Connectivity' section in your Client Zone.
If you signup today you will be billed pro-rata for the remainder of the month. For example if it is a 30 day month and you signup with 10 days to go you will be billed for 1/3rd of the package price.
(Please note that if you want to upgrade to this before month end you need to do this today as from tomorrow until the 1st of next month you will be unable to as we will have already sent the payment details through to the bank
But don't worry - you will be able to upgrade from the 1st of next month if you miss today)

How can I pay for the Uncapped service?
You can pay monthly via either debit order or credit card.
Unfortunately at this time we do not accept EFT transfers or Bank deposit payments.

How do I know if Uncapped ADSL is for me? What's the difference between Capped and Uncapped?
The 3 things you need to take into account when deciding whether to go for an Uncapped solution are:
1. Overall Usage vs Overall Cost 2. Number of places you connect from 3. Capped vs Uncapped speed

1. Overall Usage vs Overall Cost:
If you are currently on a Capped package you need to look at how many GBs you use on average every month (or plan to use) and the speed of your Telkom line. You can then decide whether the Uncapped solution makes sense for you.
For a 384 kbps line if you move less than about 7 GBs a month it makes sense to stay on Capped.
For a 512 kbps line if you move less than about 11 GBs a month it makes sense to stay on Capped.
For a 4096 kbps line if you move less than about 17 GBs a month it makes sense to stay on Capped.

Please bear in mind that the above calculations use R29 per GB as a base average and do not take into account the R14,50 topup special we run - so if you take advantage of this then you need to take this into account for your costing.

2. Number of places you need to connect from:
The Uncapped packages allows only one connection for each account while the Capped packages allow many simultaneous connections from different locations for each account.
A Capped package is limited by the amount of GBs allowed but not by the number of locations or telephone numbers that can make use of it.
An Uncapped package is locked to one telephone number and is limited by the number of locations you can connect from but not by the number of GBs you can use. Only one user is allowed to use an Uncapped package.
This means that if you are accessing your ADSL account from several different locations (e.g. from home AND work) then this will work for a Capped account but not for an Uncapped one.
If you'd like Uncapped at both locations you'd need to buy a separate Uncapped package for each.

3. Capped vs Uncapped Speed:
The performance of Capped accounts and Uncapped accounts differ in subtle ways no matter the company you choose to use.
Generally Uncapped ADSL runs off a higher 'contention ratio' than Capped ADSL.
This means that generally more users are allowed for a certain chunk of bandwidth in Uncapped than in Capped.
This means that the number of users downloading at any one time affects Uncapped more than Capped. At any given moment if a ton of users are busy simultaneously then Uncapped will be slightly slower than Capped.

A very simplistic metaphor for this would be:
Uncapped is like eating at a Pizza place on 'All You Can Eat' night. The speed you get your separate single slices of pizza delivered to you is dependent on how busy the restaurant is at that moment. This means it may take slightly longer to eat a whole pizza but you can eat more over time.

Capped is like eating at that same Pizza place but ordering the pizza size you want off the menu - you'll get your full pizza quicker and can eat it faster but you have a set amount to enjoy.

In essence Capped is a slightly premium service if speed is a massive issue to you while Uncapped is the way to go if solid speed is good enough and you don't want to worry about getting capped at any time of the month.

You will find that the speed of Capped vs Uncapped most differs during office hours - Thus if speed is of primary importance to you during office hours then Capped may be the best solution for you.

Why are you only offering the 4096 kbps option now and why are you limiting the number of signups?
Quite simply we want to fully test these uncapped solutions before they become part of our standard product offering.
We pride ourselves in the service we deliver and we always want to give the absolute best to our clients - So we want to fully test these uncapped solutions before they become part of our standard product offering.
We want to ensure that any snags are ironed out before we make them globally available.
We value our reputation of providing great products and service too highly to risk rushing this offering.
The truth is we could probably launch all the packages now and open them up to all but we first want to test the performance and integrity of the offering and we believe the best way to do this is by testing the fastest possible uncapped solution first.
We are very confident that this product will stand up superbly and that we will be able to launch the other uncapped offerings very soon!

How many 4096kbps accounts are you going to sell during the 'testing' phase?
At the moment we are going to sell at least 1,000 of these accounts but it may be more depending on performance and uptake.

When will you launch the Uncapped 384 kbps and Uncapped 512kbps offerings?
We aim to offer them within the next few weeks (or sooner) depending on how the testing of the 4096 kbps accounts go. Our first priority is to ensure that we deliver a rock solid uncapped service that will be a pleasure for our clients to use. We promise not to compromise quality and as such we are going to test our system comprehensively before opening up all products.

Is this a truly uncapped service? Are there any catches? Can I really use as much as I want?
Unless you literally move hundreds of GBs per month this service will be uncapped for you with no catches for you
The vast majority of our Uncapped clients will be able to use as much as they want.
However, we will take action on the very small minority who through their usage start affecting all of our other clients' internet experience.
It is our duty to make sure that a very few will not ruin our Uncapped solutions for everyone.
Our primary concern is for the majority of our clients. If there are individuals that are putting strain on the network and affecting our other clients negatively we reserve the right to stop offering them the service.
Our uncapped service is designed for a real person sitting behind their computer who wants to be able to visit websites, download email, watch YouTube, use Skype and update Facebook as much as they want without worrying about the traffic they're using.

It is not designed for computer programs that are setup to continuously download 24/7, 30 days a month.
The honest truth is that if it is your intention to setup programs to download movies, music & whatever else every single hour of the day, every day of the month then these uncapped packages are not for you.
We want to make this clear upfront so that nobody is disappointed or surprised later.

But rest assured:
We will not even consider stopping your account unless you are moving literally hundreds of GBs per month.

What should I do if I'm torn between Capped and Uncapped?
My suggestion would be to try our Uncapped and see if it is for you.
You can simply go into your Client Zone and change to Uncapped from there. There are no contracts so if you find you prefer Capped for whatever reason then you can always return to Client Zone and go back to Capped from the following month.
You can see more details of our Uncapped packages here:

We have included all Frequently Asked Questions here (and we'll continually be updating this page as new questions come in)

As always if you are unsure about anything or have any other questions please let us know!

Warm regards

P: 011 612 7200
F: 086 561 0000


  1. Hi, I am thinking of downloading TV to PC software and watch TV via my PC on my TV. Please let me know what broadband speed will be required.

  2. Hi Jacques

    I did a bit of Googling.. and even with a 4MB ADSL line, I doubt whether the quality and convenience of DSTV would be met.. not with South Africa's Internet connectivity - I agree, the price for DSTV is high!
    Remember, you'll need a very large hard drive as well.

    See here for a discussion:

    And search for more like it using Google:
    DSTV +uncapped +4MB

    Have you looked at TopTV yet? - Much cheaper, but doesn't have the sports offering like DSTV.
    I suggest you look at their schedules below and see how they match your needs. If you're a sports lover, then I doubt whether you'll get a better offering than from DSTV :( (not in the short term anyway)

    From TopTV's home page:
    TopTV will offer different pay TV packages which have been created to meet the needs of subscribers with quality programming at affordable rates. For R99 per month, subscribers will have access to over 20 channels, providing comprehensive coverage of genres, including general entertainment, news, sport, movies and gospel, to name a few.

    TopTV will offer subscribers seven different pricing options ranging from R99 to R249 per month. Channels on offer include those created specifically by TopTV with content sourced both locally and internationally, including Top Movies, Top One, Top Gospel and Top Crime, as well as a range of highly sought-after international channels from outside suppliers. Nine locally developed channels will offer audiences a mix of local and international flavours.

    Here's the schedule:

  3. Looks like there is another free offering on it way, better hurry up to grab your free internet, check here for more info:


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