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Are You Falling Into The Trap Of Unlimited Data Plans?


There is a challenge these days: UNLIMITED DATA. Tackling the myth of unlimited data is now more difficult than ever because – Marketing.

A Little History – Unlimited Data


In 2015, Wired.Com published a report addressing the matter of unlimited data. The first thing they did was to clarify – don’t believe it when carriers tell you they offer you unlimited data.

They addressed the matter of Comcast billing users when they used extra bandwidth, and the case of Sprint throttling their data speed after users exceed certain volume of data.

Before 2010, many carriers in the US offered unlimited data plans, which made a business sense at the time. But, these companies soon discovered that user behavior was changing dramatically.

Back then (how funny 2010 is back then), mobile phones were primarily used for emails and web surfing for the most part. But then, users began (to use their words) “watching crazy amount of YouTube on their phones.” This was the major blow that led companies to practice throttling (Reducing internet speed after using a specific data limit).

Miscalculation – Maybe Cynical – But definitely a miscalculation


According to industry analysts, companies were trying to be sincere with this offering. They also viewed this as a great opportunity to actually begin marketing these services and sell more and then make more money and… so on.

Cynical marketing schemes or not, companies found themselves in a tough spots. They made claims that couldn’t be backed-up. Customers are savvy enough to realize what these companies were trying to do – so they used these plans to the best of their understanding.

So many companies started blaming users for abusing the services they are offering.

The simple case was: Customers didn’t really abuse the service. Customers where told – It is unlimited. So, they used these services in ways that made sense for their point of view as consumers.

Reality Is Tough Pill To Swallow


Companies found themselves in a losing position. Customers are using a lot more data than these companies anticipated or even calculated for.

Now, they began setting limits and introduce new ways to make the customer pay for the data they use. Throttling was also proven to be an effective method to save the company from what they perceived as “Data Abuse”.

But, hold just a minute before you take a side.

Was that action something that cost these companies lots of money or was that something that opened the door for companies to grow their revenue – especially after they discovered that their customers are hungry for data?

Or was this simply a matter of overly ambitious advertising?

It is unclear.

The Myth Continues in 2017


Moving on from 2010 and jump to 2017.

Yahoo, Business Insider and other media and technology outlets reported on the matter of how unlimited are unlimited data plans.

As of February 2017, all four major players in the US announced their Unlimited Data Plans (Again). AT&T was the last to join the hype. So now, marketing wise, anyone can “get unlimited data nationwide” in the US.

Similar cases in the EU, Southeast Asia, Middle East and other countries.

BUT the question again remains, how unlimited are these unlimited data?

It Is All In The Caveats


Let’s first answer the mother lode of all questions: SIMPLEY PUT: Unlimited Data is a MYTH.

Companies can advertise this all they want. They will give you a lot of data. But, as soon as you get to a certain point of usage, you will no longer enjoy the same things you usually do.

These are some of the caveats:

1. Limited use

Operators put a limit on how much data you tend to use.

Say, you subscribe to the unlimited data plan with a specific career. That plan says you can use “Unlimited YouTube Streaming, and maybe Unlimited Netflix, maybe Unlimited Spotify.”

Now, keep in mind that streaming services like YouTube and Netflix use lots and lots of data. You will go through 20GB of data in just couple of days.

We did an experiment – for legal purposes, we cannot say which carrier, but here is the finding:

We subscribed for an unlimited data plan, costing $30/monthly.

The plan says unlimited (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, Basic Browsing Services).

We started using YouTube around 6 hours daily for a week – Before the week ended, we got a message: “you have utilized 75% of your data.”

We contacted the carrier – and asked what’s actually happening. They answered that “you have utilized the maximum amount of data at the speed specified”. Now, they will reduce the speed, and not allow us to use YouTube.

2. Throttling


After you use the limit of data, the company will reduce your speed, massively. This is known as throttling.

Now, we couldn’t browse easily, we couldn’t use Facebook properly.

A week after that, even our WhatsApp didn’t work.

Now we are 14 days in – We got the message “please buy more data – here are the prices for these data packs.”

Bottom-line, this was too expensive to maintain. We ended unsubscribing and getting our normal limited data plan back.

3. It wasn’t the end to unsubscribe

We actually had to pay extra to unsubscribe. Why? Here is the answer we got:

  • You guys used more data than you’re allowed in the T&C
  • Your extra charges are $10 – on top of the 30 we already paid
  • We have violated the terms of services and need to pay compensation (16%)



The Moral Of The Story?

Tip: Why Your Data Drains Fast?

Data Drain Image From WJLA

Data Drain Image From WJLA

Please keep in mind that your phone is using data without you noticing. So, please check your app settings and data settings for these things:

  • Your apps are allowed to access mobile data all the time – change certain apps to use with WiFi only
  • Your cloud synchronization is on with your mobile data
  • Streaming apps (podcast or music) do consume data in the background
  • You might have allowed automatic app updates on mobile data

Avoid those because they might not cost you as much on your local data, they will cost you A LOT if you.

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