MTN SA receives substantial number of complaints over data throttling
In an effort to curb excessive use of the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) on its network, mobile operator MTN SA changed its policies for the service, angering customers in the process.
BIS offers unlimited on-device Web browsing and other data services for a low and fixed monthly fee.
MTN introduced new policies for BIS last week that limit what type of content users can download or stream. It says this was necessary to improve customer experience.
Many MTN customers, however, have now slated the move and expressed their displeasure on social media.
The operator says it implemented new measures to monitor BIS users who “download and stream large [amounts of] content to ensure that all users have an improved and always-on Internet experience”.
Devan Chetty, GM of core and Internet protocol planning at MTN SA, says the move is intended to ensure high usage from a small group of heavy users does not negatively affect the Internet experience of the majority of users.
He says this is line with the terms and conditions customers agree to when purchasing BIS offerings.
“Prior to implementation, MTN reminded customers through text messages,” he says. “Naturally, MTN has received substantial number of complaints from customers but we’re on an education drive to create awareness of the reasons of the move to manage BIS traffic.”
In effect, the company is throttling or blocking certain types of data. This includes streaming, downloading of files, watching videos on YouTube or using voice-over-Internet protocol services like Skype, which MTN says:
“are not meant to done on the BlackBerry network”.
Other services that it says don’t form part of a BlackBerry service plan include e-mails with attachments larger than 3MB, music or video streaming, using a BlackBerry device to tether to a computer for Internet connectivity, peer-to-peer file sharing, and “cloud-based services”.
MTN says that, depending on the BlackBerry operating system installed on users’ handsets, services including video streaming and downloads will be routed to the MTN public APN and customers may or may not be informed that these type of downloads will be billed for.
BIS continues to offer support for social networks and instant-messaging services, but only those endorsed by Research in Motion.
This includes Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and AIM.
This means social networks like Google+, instant messenger WhatsApp and calling service Viber are not supported and will not be covered by a BIS bundle.
On Friday, customers posted a variety of negative comments to MTN’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, asking why downloads weren’t working, complaining about the 3MB limit on e-mail attachments, and asking whether MTN was within its rights to change its BIS policy unilaterally.
Unfortunately for these consumers, it appears MTN is acting within its rights. The first clause under its terms and conditions for its BlackBerry usage policy states that the company:
“reserves the right to establish policies, rules and limitations which govern the usage of the BlackBerry Internet Service … in order to manage the quality of its network and to optimise network efficiency for the benefit of all subscribers”.