IS UNLIMITED REALLY UNLIMITED?
June 2021

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Gregg Knowles

By Gregg Knowles

  |  

2 June 2021

Is there really any such thing as an unlimited mobile package?

Look behind the definition to see what’s actually on offer and compare it your business’ specific needs, says Gregg Knowles

When is unlimited not really unlimited? It sounds like the start of a bad joke – and in some ways it is because the answer is: all the time when it comes to mobile packages. Providers that offer businesses unlimited calls, texts and data are not promising that no hidden extras will ever be charged, and companies will want to ask themselves whether an unlimited plan is really the best option for their needs. There is much more to it than first meets the eye.

Defining what unlimited means

For a start, it matters how you and your business use mobiles and what sort of “unlimited” plan you are signed up to. Typically, unlimited plans don’t include international calls or calls or texts to premium rate numbers. If you are using mobiles abroad in the EU, for example (and surely those days will return), an unlimited plan may actually give you less data for “free” roaming than a fixed tariff.

Some plans will give you unlimited data for certain purposes, but not for others. Clearly, a plan that offers unlimited data for streaming only is unlikely to be fit-for-purpose for business use. Employers will not want to pay for data that encourages staff not to work, and then have to pay extra for the type of data they do need!

Restrictions may be enforced via the back door by dictating in what sorts of devices unlimited SIM cards can be used. For example, if an unlimited SIM can be used in a router, it could give boundless data access to countless devices, so providers often stipulate the SIM must be used in a mobile phone or tablet that can only be used by one user at a time. That may be fair enough, but even without such a clause, providers will have a fair use policy of some sort and impose (admittedly high) caps on usage in the small print.

What’s more, as 5G finally comes over the horizon, there is the question of whether providers will even be able to continue to support unlimited plans on the 5G network. Experience has shown that unlimited tariffs originally offered on 3G were then pulled from the market when 4G arrived, and a similar pattern may well emerge again.

Finding a package that fits

There is one important consideration overarching all this – and that is: do you even need an unlimited package? Analysis of our customer base which ranges from small to large businesses shows that very few use more than 80 gigabytes of data per month and almost none use more than 150 gigs. Unlimited calls and texts are almost redundant as most people now use services like WhatsApp or Teams instead. What most customers really want is not an unlimited package but certainty that they won’t end up with an unforeseen overspend.

But with an unlimited package, there’s a risk that you could end up overpaying for capacity you simply don’t need and that is not cost-effective. It’s usually cheaper (often far more so) to buy a package that fits your business. At plan.com, we can help you work out what your requirements are to find the most suitable solution, and our platform gives you the visibility and the controls you need to make sure that mobile spending always remains within set limits.

Unlimited packages are a misnomer. Just like a free lunch, there is no such thing. The reality is that they are fixed value packages like any other – it’s just that the fixed value is higher, and customers pay a premium accordingly. If you want a package that give you all the calls and data you need, with no nasty surprises, look beyond the lure of unlimited. It could end up being a false economy.


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