Something magical happened in the US last week – Verizon, one of the biggest telcos in the United States and a the chief proponent of capped mobile internet plans, brought back “unlimited” data plans for customers. As a response, it’s biggest rival AT&T outed its own “unlimited” internet plan while smaller players like Sprint and T-Mobile tweaked their “unlimited” plan to combat Verizon’s offering.
It harkens to a return to the years before 2015 when all local telcos were still offering unlimited internet plans to boost adoption of LTE. Back then our local telcos were still offering unlimited internet plans with LTE speeds, and things the fair use policy was a theoretical concept and not a draconian limitation. In fact, we still use our old Galaxy S4 unlimited LTE plan from Smart, and since we’ve never opted to move on because of the plan’s grandfathered status (telco’s can’t force you to move to a plan by force) we still enjoy unlimited LTE.
Obviously this isn’t true anymore, and the industry as a whole has moved away from unlimited internet plans, much to the chagrin of customers. Even Verizon’s new unlimited plans has a theoretical limit of 22GB but as their about-face shows, there’s still a massive market for people who want to use their data connection without getting hit with an email or text that they’re about to be throttled down to 3G speeds because of their consumption habits. Customers nowadays use more data than ever before, and have largely abandoned traditional ways of communication like voice calls and SMS. That’s mirrored by our use – we seldom, if ever dial up a number on our phones – we rely heavily on Facebook messenger, email, Viber and other internet messaging services to talk to co-workers, family and friends.
And only one telco needs to offer an unlimited internet data plan before the other follows suit. Verizon’s decision to start offering unlimited data plans came from the pressure of smaller players like Sprint and T-Mobile, and AT&T had no choice but to follow suit. And if there’s a local telco that’s up to the task, it’s Smart – it’s no secret that they need to step up their game, and this is the perfect way to do it. Offer an unlimited internet plan and customers will come back, in droves. Data use has never been higher, and if we weren’t on their grandfathered plan till now, we’d probably spring for an unlimited data option.