Operators rule out offering unlimited data plans on 4G

Written by: James Pearce
Operators rule out offering unlimited data plans on 4G

Vodafone, O2 and EE CEOs say services and customer experience would be compromised

O2, Vodafone and EE have all ruled out offering unlimited 4G data plans, calling them “unsustainable” and “unnecessary”.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, UK CEOs Ronan Dunne (O2), Olaf Swantee (EE) and Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said offering unlimited data packages would compromise the quality of service experienced by their customers.

At present, only Three and T-Mobile offer an unlimited data package on their 3G networks through the ‘One Plan’ and ‘Full Monty’ tariffs respectively.

Three confirmed last week it will offer unlimited 4G packages to its customers when it goes live later this year.

T-Mobile will not be updated to offer 4G services.

Colao described unlimited tariffs as “unsustainable” and said operators have a responsibility to prioritise their data networks to avoid issues such as slow-down or loss of service.

Colao said: “You can’t provide good quality and unlimited at the same time.

“Of course, I could give unlimited to everybody but that leads to a degradation of the service.

“If everyone has unlimited then you kill the performance of everybody else.

“I know some operators do it and I’m glad I am CEO of Vodafone and not them.”

Dunne, speaking about O2’s 4G launch preparations, agreed: “We’re not going to go unlimited. We simply can’t promise our customers a high quality of service if we’ve promised them an unlimited connection.”

Bill shock
EE CEO Olaf Swantee said although the operator offers an unlimited plan on its T-Mobile network, the same will not apply to its 4GEE tariffs.

During a keynote presentation at Mobile World Congress, Swantee told attendees that 4G customers are typically using double the data they did when on 3G, averaging 1.4GB per month – far less than the maximum 20GB packages which are available.

EE also sends its customers text messages to alert them of their usage and warns them when they are approaching their limit in order to help them avoid “bill shock”.

Swantee said: “Unlimited data plans are not really necessary. What customers want first and foremost is no bill shock.

“Obviously a lot of people like the idea of unlimited data because it does not cause bill shock. But if you have tariffs like we have in the UK then you solve the key problem for customers. With 1.4GB being the average usage, you can simply create the right packages that support that.”

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