By 7 January 2009 | Categories: netsmart


I freely admit to being a total geek, and if asked what I want for a New Year’s pressie I’ll probably tell you I want more bandwidth.

During the year I get many varied questions from TechSmart readers, and some of the most common ones I still get is for me to explain basic broadband concepts, mostly around the question of what is ADSL bandwidth? Or what are the differences between types of bandwidth, and what does each type mean?

With so many different ISPs in the market it can sometimes be a bit tricky comparing apples with apples when often, what you think are apples are actually oranges, or sometimes worse, rotten apples. The most important thing to understand about broadband, specifically ADSL, is what your data cap is.

With a broadband service you pay per megabyte of information you send and receive, and your data cap is the amount of data throughput you’re paying for, normally measured in gigabytes. That being said there are two kinds of Internet traffic. Local traffic, which is traffic to and from South African sites, and international traffic which is to non-local sites.

Why this is important to understand is because some ADSL packages will include an amount of free additional local traffic. This free additional local traffic is known as a soft cap, and its great, because once you hit your soft cap you can still receive your emails and browse to local sites, like your bank or So what you need to be sure of when choosing your ADSL option is to truly compare like with like.

Very often people are not told about the difference between a hard cap and a soft cap, or that a soft cap is available, and that with a hard cap you’re cut off and get no more email or ­browsing the rest of the month. Soft cap accounts will normally cost a few Rand more, but you cannot beat these for value for money. Before settling on your type of ADSL you should ­definitely check out your options. For (tech)smart consumers there are excellent ADSL deals to be had with really good value. Here are my picks for the best use for your bandwidth for the start of 2009.

  • netHACKZ –
    The Internet offers so much to do and so little time to do it in. This site is a place you can go to for down-to-earth tips and tricks on making your life online more productive.
  • Armor Games –
    This site can suck you in for hours. It features loads of free browser based games with everything from adventure to arcade to strategy. Lots of fun to be had here.
  • Evernote –
    I surf the web a lot and I’m always finding useful pieces of information all over the show. The problem is its difficult to keep track of what I saw, and where. Evernote is a tool designed to help with that, and it works really well. Definitely worth trying.
  • NerdTests –
    This site has a lot of fun, DIY personality tests on it. Everything from genuine personality tests right through to the less serious “Am I a geek?” tests.

Have a good, safe year, and of course, lots of fun online. As always, if you need advice on what would be the best broadband for you, I’ll gladly help, so please be in touch. Send your comments to


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