Axxess/Afrihost Throttling Connections by 90%???

** Please also see the updated Afrihost ISP Review Here **

<rant>The ISP market in South Africa is understandably a cut-throat business with each ISP trying to outdo the other whilst at the the same time attempting to squeeze as many consumers as possible onto their network.

MWeb rocked the boat a few years ago by introducing the first affordable uncapped ADSL products. ISP after ISP followed suite. I myself have an uncapped account with Axxess (now owned by Afrihost). Why not with MWeb you ask? Well there are certain things in their terms and conditions that certainly do not suit me (I mean really, I am forbidden to FTP something to my home computer???). Anyway, back to the point. I have never had many issues with Axxess/Afrihost – that is until they spontaneously decided to move all their customers from the age-old-proven IS network to some newly “custom-built” network by MTN. Now I understand that such things may incur some teething problems, which they had and have said to be sorted out. Besides the issues I have with my physical ADSL line (which is neither owned nor the responsibility of Axxess/Afrihost) I had a few days of glorious speeds in which I could finally download myself a new game or two on Steam …. or so I thought. Three days and 5.5GB later, I notice that my Steam downloads seem to be a bit slow…but maybe that is just a line issue again I thought.

Days went by and I noticed that browsing was as quick as ever, but Steam downloads were sitting at 15KB/s … I have 1Mbps line which should give me speeds in excess of 100KB/s. Another peculiar fact was that whenever I started the download, the speeds would jump around a bit near 80KB/s and then after a while drop to 15KB/s. At first it seemed a little random, however it would do this consistently whenever I stopped and restarted the download or whenever Steam would give up and suspend the download for a while (due to slow speeds) and resume it. I then decided to do a little experiment. Start the download and time it until the speed drops to a consistent 15KB/s. Imagine the surprise when I discovered time and time again that after almost exactly 1 minute and 30 seconds the speed would drop. It never took longer than that but sometimes did so after a mere minute. The final test was to quickly do the same tests on a prepaid capped (guaranteed unshaped/unthrottled) account. Result? Pure bandwidth joy…return to uncapped…throttled hell.

Now why not complain? Well because I know the response I am going to get: “We reserve the right as according to our Acceptable Use Policy to prioritise/throttle our uncapped users based on network congestion bla bla bla…..” …  please explain this to me: When Axxess/Afrihost were making use of IS backbone, then I could easily transfer 100GB in a month with barely an issue. Now after a mere 30GB  they are throttling like hell on a new network that they boast far outstrips the old one in terms of capacity. If this were true then I would not be receiving only 11% of my theoretical speed on a weekend when business traffic is at an all time low! Come on Axxess/Afrihost … (un)shape up or ship out. I think I shall simply execute my right to move to another ISP … I hear IS has some nice consumer offerings these days….<rant/>