So when is ‘unlimited’ really unlimited

One of the confusing areas for anyone is what 'unlimited' data tarrifs really mean.  I'm in the industry and it's confusing for me let alone any consumer or corporate who wants to minimise their risk and exposure to massive data bills through the use of unlimited tarrifs. 

Now every operator protects the use of the term 'unlimited' by assigning a fair use policy.  What is interesting is that different operators have different fair use policies.  This is highlighted in an article on ZDNet where they compare the iPhone O2 tarrif and the T-Mobile Web 'n' Walk Tarrif.

O2's fair use policy allows the download of 1400 Internet pages where they claim an Internet page is 4-5kb.  In fact the O2 Homepage is 33kb.

So for 1400x5kb you actually get 200MB per month of data.

T-Mobile on the other hand state fair use to be 1GB per month.

If Operators are really serious about driving the uptake of mobile data they really need to make it clear that unlimited really means 200MB or 1GB respectively.  Similarly operators need to report to customers how much they are using proactively so you can monitor it.

My car has an unlimited use capability where the fair use is set to 400 miles. 

The ZDNet article goes into a lot more detail around this HERE

Comments (5)
  1. Guy Gregory says:

    Orange cap their ‘anytime unmetered data access’  at 30Mb… All seems a bit pointless to me.

  2. Alex Taylor says:

    See, this is one of the barriers that the mobile industry need to wake up to.  I’m going through this exact issue with Vodafone – they have unlimited tarriff’s on their data cards, which is approx 1gig.  £25 a month.  Not too bad I hear you say.

    You try getting that added onto a voice sim and they say nooooooo.  They’re trying to tie us down to a new "MS Mail" tarriff that has been "created especially for Windows Mobile devices", where by you pay an extra £35 a month for 200mb! I said no thanks.  That only gives you access to your exchange server and no internet access, setting you up a new APN – whats the point in that? Why can’t they just add the £25 unlimited to each sim card and we’d be happy?  Can’t do that.  So all the meanwhile we’re paying around £2.70 a MB.

    I carry an unlimited sim which I pop in on the way to/from work so I can use the internet/MSN without fear of racking up a huge bill.  Not all of us have that option (hey there’s gotta be some perks of being Head of IT, right?)

  3. Alex says:

    So is this something that is localized to the UK or is it a global practice?

  4. MSDN Archive says:

    Alex – unfortunately it’s pretty much a global challenge.  

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