Between about 9:30am and 1pm this afternoon, if you made use of one of Afrihost’s mobile data offerings (powered by the MTN network) and happened to be nearing the end of your data allocation (as was the case for two members of the htxt.africa team) you would have been able to go way beyond your cap.
That’s because (from what we can gather), during this time period no usage data was being reported from MTN’s back-end system to Afrihost’s back-end system, meaning that Afrihost’s back-end was seemingly prevented from notifying MTN’s back-end of a user being over their monthly data allowance of data and them needing to be capped. The reason we know this is, two htxt.africa staffers happened to be burning through the last of their monthly data allowance when the “incident” took place.
One of them (let’s call him team member A) happened to be updating his Battle.net client with the new content released earlier this week as part of the new Diablo III Expansion Pack. The other (team member B) was doing video research on YouTube at the time.
According to the Afrihost client zone interface, team member A managed to get through well in excess of 7GB of data between the time of the outage (and a total of 11GB of data for the month) while using a 2GB+3GB package, which as its name suggests, should cap out at 5GB of usage for the month.
Team member B doesn’t know how much data he made use of, just that he had about 180MB left of his allowance this morning when he fired up YouTube started streaming video in full HD. We’re pretty sure that a couple of hours’ worth of high definition video streaming far exceeds the couple of hundred megabytes he had on hand however.
While we’re still investigating the matter with MTN and Afrihost, we have managed to get somewhat of an explanation from the social media folks at the ISP.
Suvesh Arumugam, social samurai at Afrihost said that the problem could have been related to another issue the ISP was chatting to MTN about, and that the company was receiving its usage reports a little later than usual, which was causing the symptoms we describe.
“This is not generally the case and our team are busy resolving this,” he said.
The resolution arrived around 1PM when both of our team members were promptly capped. It’s unclear just how much data actually crept through during that time, or how widespread the glitch was. We can only assume that someone somewhere is going to have to pay for the additional data.
“We’ll review the issue as it unfolds and the potential impact, but we’re sure we’ll find the best solution for our clients,” Arumugam told us.
Let’s hope the bill doesn’t end up at the customer’s door, because let’s face it, you should be able to rely on your ISP to cut you off when you don’t have any data left. Expect more as the story develops…