Review of South African Capped ADSL Services

My goal in reviewing the capped ADSL services in South Africa is to find the best, affordable ADSL solution available in the country.

It will be the first time I’ll be back on to using a capped ADSL service in a number of years. I started out with WebAfrica over 5 years ago before leaving them for Afrihost and then later, for MWeb.

I’ve always believed in MWeb’s service delivery and their support and still rate them quite highly. MWeb’s uncapped products seem to differ to other ISPs products, in that MWeb don’t heavily shape their accounts, but instead apply throttling at realtively acceptable usage-level.

While this frustrates heavy users (i.e those doing +100GB/m), moderate users will not find this a problem.

Now let's look at the various uncapped ADSL services and how they performed.

WebAfrica - 15GB + 15GB Capped

Service Link: WebAfrica 15GB + 15GB Capped ADSL

WebAfrica - 15GB + 15GB Capped

The WebAfrica Capped ADSL service I chose allowed for 15GB anytime plus an additional 15GB off-peak (23:00-06:00).

Keeping in mind that I also have an Incredible Connection 2Mb Uncapped account available as a backup ADSL line.

During my review month, I found this service to serve it’s purpose very well as follows:

  • Service: [7/10]
    WebAfrica’s service has generally been very good. They have a good portal. My only complaint is that their account portal and their DSL portal are separate, accepting different login credentials. I’ve also experienced billing issues when switching bank account details.
    (Note: They have a 1 month cancellation notice period.)

  • ADSL Speed: [9/10]
    Whilst using their service, I was very happy with the speed, getting full linespeed (4Mbps) with low latency (<30ms).

  • Price: [7/10]
    They aren’t the cheapest in market, nor are they the most expensive. With Afrihost and Axxess having similar products at slightly lower rates, It’ll be WebAfrica's service and uptime that will determine their value at ZAR79 per month (approximately $7.40).

  • Verdict: Recommended

P.S.: I discovered WebAfrica attach a service called FreeZone, that has it’s own metered usage. This gave me great pleasure as I have been installing/updating Ubuntu on my home machines and Linux distros mirrored with WebAfrica are counted as FreeZone usage. More details here.

Afrihost - 20GB + 20GB Capped

Service Link: Afrihost 20GB + 20GB Capped ADSL

Afrihost - 20GB + 20GB Capped

I tested Afrihost's service in April 2014 and what a way to start on it!.

On the first day of testing I was not sure if this was Afrihost’s idea of an April fool’s joke, but look at the Ookla Speed Test difference below (Afrihost vs Web Africa respecitvely).

Afrihost Speed Test Afrihost Speed Test

WebAfrica Speed Test WebAfrica Speed Test

During my review month, I found this service to serve it’s purpose very well as follows:

  • Service: [8/10]
    Afrihost’s service has generally been very good. My only complaint was that support tickets go days without being answered. (Note: Their cancellation process is very easy via the console. Afrihost also send you a confirmation email!)

  • ADSL Speed: [9/10]
    Despite the first few days of dismal line speeds, Afrihost performed exceptionally well. All the South African holidays in April meant lots of day-time video streaming for the kids :-). With regards to throttling, it's "full steam ahead".

  • Price: [10/10] At the time of my trial, Afrihost were doubling up on their capped packages. Unlike Web Africa’s extra data that could only be used off-peak, Afrihost’s offering could be used at any time. It costs ZAR89 per month (approximately $8.30)

  • Verdict: Highly Recommended

P.S.: All Capped DSL Packages (excluding 1 GB) get FREE Double Anytime data on top of the normal monthly data allocation until 30 September 2014 at which point the offer will be revised or extended.

Axxess - 20GB + 20GB Capped

Service Link: Axxess 20GB + 20GB Capped

Axxess - 20GB + 20GB Capped

I have fond memories of Axxess, the days when 1 GB of data is all you really needed and you had separate ADSL accounts for international and local traffic.

During my review month, I found this product to serve it’s purpose very well as follows:

  • Service: [8/10]
    Axxess service has generally been very goodwith regards to service. (Note: Their cancellation process is very easy via their console.)

  • ADSL Speed: [9/10] I learned that Axxess is a sister company of Afrihost and hence they share the same MTN fibre network. So they throttle in the same manner as Afrihost does.

  • Price: [8/10]
    At the time of my trial, I felt that R89 (approximately $8.30) for 20 GB as getting expensive compared to what is available from Afrihost and Web Africa for similar price. As it turned out, as of 01 June 2014, Axxess are following Afrihost’s lead to offering double-data promotions on their capped accounts. Now we’re talking!

Feel free to share your experiences with various ADSL services, this report will be updated as I test more services in South Africa.

Cover Image Credit: Angus Fraser