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Vodacom throttles BlackBerry users

BlackBerry’s management restructure has seen the hiring of four former SAP staff

Vodacom, the pan-African subsidiary of Vodafone, is reducing connection speeds for some of its BlackBerry users in South Africa “from 3G to 2G levels”.

The company said that it studied the usage patterns of its customers to better understand the causes of congestion at peak times and found that more than 95 per cent of BlackBerry data usage was attributable to less than 5 per cent of users.

“We need to ensure that all BlackBerry users are able to enjoy the service that they pay for.  When we realised that such a small minority was using the bulk of the capacity, we decided to implement measures that will ensure that Blackberry users will enjoy a better browsing experience overall,” said chief technology officer Andries Delport.

The operator explained that it has taken steps to ensure that the 95 per cent of the BlackBerry users who are currently using moderate amounts of data are not impacted by those who are responsible for high levels of data usage. Therefore, the five per cent of the customer base who accountable for the highest data usage will have their connection speed reduced from 3G to 2G levels. 

Vodacom’s CEO Pieter Uys added that the BlackBerry service was designed to enable customers to use a BlackBerry smartphone for internet browsing and sending and receiving e-mails and messages on the handset itself, but not to link to computers and be used as a modem, which is called ‘tethering’.

“I’m very concerned that the steps we were planning to put in place were interpreted as punishing normal users.  This is not at all our intention and no changes have been implemented to slow down any customer’s BlackBerry service,” he said.

“We are instead working with the makers of BlackBerry, Research In Motion, to find a solution to manage the bulk movie and file downloads, since these are responsible for degrading the service for all other users. By managing this issue we’ll improve the service for all of our BlackBerry customers.”

The company has also announced that it has added over 250 new 3G base stations across South Africa since the beginning of the year and had added additional capacity by upgrading 2335 base stations to more efficient double-speed 43.2Mbps technology.


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