There are two types of broadband services offered by internet service providers in South Africa, and around the world – capped or uncapped. In the case of uncapped, there is often advertisements by service providers stating that their uncapped lines are also “unshaped”, offering unrestricted internet at any time of day.

An uncapped account may offer flexibility but in terms of the actual connection, it does not offer you unlimited bandwidth and often it does not offer you unlimited data either. In most cases, an uncapped connection means that you aren’t getting the full throughput on the line that you have. In many cases an uncapped 4mbps for example, would run at well under 4mbps when the line is uncapped but run very close to the 4mbps line when running a capped connection. In addition, all uncapped internet packages have a fair usage policy at which time the service provider cuts your bandwidth down to half of your current speed and when you consider that you weren’t using the full speed initially on the line with an uncapped connection, the throttling on the bandwidth makes your connection debilitatingly slow.

On the shaping side, shaped connections are generally contented at a much higher ratio (meaning there are more subscribers sharing specific bandwidth) whereas the contention on unshaped links are generally less contended, making them appear faster. Shaping generally means that there is prioritisation taking place on the line whereas, an unshaped link does not put in place any prioritisation.