Broadband services in South Africa normally come as either a capped or uncapped product.
Many ADSL and fibre Internet service providers offer “uncapped, unshaped” accounts, promising unfettered connectivity any time of the day.
However, not all uncapped, unshaped accounts are equal.
Unshaped means there is no prioritisation on any of the traffic on that account. The Internet activity that is started first will be served first
Contention vs throttling vs shaping
While an unshaped connection offers flexibility, it does not have unlimited bandwidth.
If your account is uncapped and unshaped, you won’t always get the maximum speed your line and account allow.
There is a lot of confusion between shaping and contention
Contention is a measure of how many subscribers are using a service.
Giving each subscriber their own 4Mbps or 10Mbps, for example, of bandwidth would be prohibitively expensive.
If a few subscribers share that bandwidth, however, an ISP can make its ADSL and fibre accounts more affordable.
Throttling is not the same as shaping. If everything is slowed down without discriminating, the service is throttled. If you slow some things down, you shaping.”
With shaping ISPs increase contention without the majority of users noticing.
Generally, shaped services are more contended, which creates the impressions that unshaped services are faster.
In this case the unshaped services are faster because they have lower contention [and tend to be less congested] not because they are actually faster.
The graphic below details the differences.