Fair Usage in an “unlimited” space
When you hear the word unlimited the words endless, infinite, inexhaustible automatically come to mind, something that has no limits.
When Bmobile launched its Unlimited Campaign on August 24th 2017 the public eagerly awaited this latest offering from the leading Telecommunications provider that promised a fast, hassle free Unlimited Voice, SMS and Data service for all local communications by its mobile and residential customers. It’s understandable that many breathed a sigh of relief that finally the service we needed was here! The packages remain quite attractive and very competitive for the lifespan of the plans (prepaid 1-day, 7-day, 30-day plans , a post paid monthly plan and a residential landline plan.
The offer is still so mind boggling, people believe there has to be a catch. Some thought they found one in a part of the Fair Usage Policy that said the mobile plans had data thresholds and that meant the plan was not really “Unlimited”. For example the 30-day prepaid Unlimited and the post paid Unlimited, both going for $349 had a threshold of 20MB. “How could a plan be unlimited if you could be blocked for exceeding the data usage threshold before the expiration of the lifespan of the particular plan?” Of course it didn’t help when customers got text messages warning of the same thing.
This confusion arose from a misinterpretation of the Fair Usage Policy so let’s set the record straight. The Fair Usage Policy, as the name implies, seeks to give EVERYONE unlimited fair use and has a caveat for people that attempt to abuse or exploit the offer for commercial benefit , profit or to compromise the stability of the network and cause other users to have poor service. Bmobile says if you are not in those categories then you won’t have a problem. To remove any doubt the reference to thresholds was removed however bmobile still makes use of usage indicators to serve as an alarm for bmobile to zoom in on suspicious use of the service.
The practice in other telecom operators.
As one of the largest wireless Telecom provider in the US, Verizon offers the Go Unlimited or Beyond Unlimited Plan with Unlimited Data at Fast LTE speeds, access to stream all the HD video you want, Mobile Hotspot on compatible devices, Unlimited Talk ,Text & Int’l Text however after 22GB, data usage will be prioritized, meaning someone hitting the 22GB mark wlll have lower priority (slower speeds) to access the network than people that have used less than this.
T mobile operates cellular networks in Europe, the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It’s unlimited offer, the One Plan has increased data from 32GB – 50 GB.T Mobile One Plan includes unlimited calling, texting and data with music and video streaming as well as mobile hotspot. Customers who use more than 50GB Data may face reduced speeds during times of network congestion. Data prioritisation is the term that the Company uses rather than throttling.
Video and Hotspot data rates may also be limited depending on the plan you choose.
AT&T offers the Unlimited Choice and Unlimited Plus. Unlimited Plus provides full speed data for 22 GB after which the speeds are throttled.
Even Skype has a Fair Usage Policy attached to its Subscription Plan which prevents the fraudulent usage of these plans. Basically the policy prohibits the reselling of subscription minutes, sharing of subscription between users, inconsistent calling patterns or use of the service to generate income.
Usage indicators have often been criticized by some as being unnecessary however service providers need a mechanism to monitor risks to their network. In this case the usage indicators help identify heavy users that may be unfairly exploiting the service at the expense of other users. The guidelines in the Fair Use policy help to establish a level field for everyone to enjoy the service.