Do T-Mobile's unlimited plans go too far?

Francesco Radicati/Informa Telecoms & Media
10 Feb 2012

At the beginning of the month T-Mobile UK introduced a series of tariffs called “The Full Monty”, which allow unlimited calling, texting and data from £36 (£57) per month.

The operator has been promoting this pretty heavily, with a TV ad and quite a bit of press coverage. A key selling point they’re keen to get out is that there are no fair use limits at all – as long as the minutes/texts/data are used for personal purposes, a user could stream videos from YouTube for 24 hours straight.

This is an interesting move, for a couple of reasons. First, it shows that T-Mobile and Orange are finally settling on their own distinct identities within the Everything Everywhere umbrella brand. More important, it follows O2 scrapping its own unlimited data plans in June of 2010.

The operator, similarly to the Occupy Wall Street movement, noted at the time that the top 1% of data users was hogging 36% of total data traffic. O2’s move left Hutchison 3 as the only operator still offering unlimited data, both on prepaid and through its postpaid One Plan.

The assumption was that the time of unlimited data was over and the only reason 3 could justify it was because it was the scrappy challenger, and because its customer base is smaller than its rivals. A network-sharing deal with T-Mobile probably also helped.

T-Mobile, of course, has the advantage of another network-sharing deal, with Everything Everywhere stable-mate Orange. The question now is whether Everything Everywhere’s network will be able to handle the additional traffic.

The other question is whether the other networks will follow suit. My guess is that they won’t – the about-face would be a bit too quick for O2, and they’re likely enjoying the extra cash from customers who go over their allowances. That, and the fact that the data hogs have moved over to 3, thereby freeing up some of O2’s network resources.

In any case, it’s unlikely that every mobile user in the UK will immediately pile onto T-Mobile’s network – the tariffs are pretty expensive, and won’t necessarily appeal to lighter users. But it looks like reports of the demise of unlimited data plans were premature.

Francesco Radicati is a research analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media. For more information visit

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