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Vodacom Group

Vodacom CEO clarifies position on BlackBerry

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

On 12 September, Vodacom announced a series of steps to improve the customer experience by increasing network capacity and reducing congestion.

An increase in complaints from BlackBerry users in recent months had been investigated, and it was found that the service was being negatively affected by a very small number of customers downloading vast amounts of data. 

The BlackBerry service was designed to enable customers to use a BlackBerry smartphone for internet browsing as well as sending and receiving e-mails and messages on the handset itself.  This on-device experience is provided for a fixed fee, made possible by the use of the BlackBerry service which compresses data.  The device can also be linked to computers and used as a modem, which is called ‘tethering'.  Since tethered data does not run via the BlackBerry service, it is charged at normal data rates. The same is also true for video.

By using special software and websites to circumvent the BlackBerry service and by downloading huge files for use off the handset itself, a very small number of customers are abusing the service.  This can amount to hundreds of gigabytes of data per user each month.  By doing this, this small group has negatively affected the network experience of all Vodacom's BlackBerry customers.

Speaking about this, Pieter Uys, Vodacom's CEO said:

"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.  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."

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