The latest Tariff Trend Report called 'Move Towards Unlimited Mobile Tariff' establishes that MNOs increasingly launch 'unlimited' mobile tariff plans, it covers over 50 operators' unlimited offerings.
This report examines the types of unlimited mobile data plans that are being introduced and the differences between plans. Not all MNO plans offer just unlimited mobile data but provide varied speeds for data or instead offer unlimited data usage for particular Apps.
A further trend shows that MNOs are also combining different pricing models in their plans. These include a standard per GB cap (as an entry level plan) unlimited data for social media use only and then an unlimited mobile data plan (as a premium product plan). Other MNOs, such as Vodafone, have introduced unlimited data plans which differ according to download speed, typically up to 2 Mbps, up to 10 Mbps and up to 1 Gbps.
The analyst looks at MNO strategies in markets including Finland (where all MNOs have adopted pricing based on access speed with unlimited data), the USA where MNOs have introduced unlimited mobile data plans as a standard offering and South America, where a number of MNOs have introduced unlimited data confined to a specific suite of Apps.
The report also gives insight into why operators launch unlimited plans, Virgin Media in the UK on launching its truly unlimited plan in 2018 said Virgin Mobile is giving its customers peace of mind by eliminating the fear of running out of data.
The report provides plenty of examples of what unlimited means to telcos.
Key findings are:
- The use of unlimited mobile data plans is not new. Unlimited mobile data plans have been adopted either as a short-term promotion to accompany a new product launch or as a long-term strategy by a disruptive MNO (such as Free Mobile (France) or 3 (UK) entering the market as a fourth MNO aiming to gain subscriber share.
- More recently unlimited mobile data has been introduced in markets to encourage the uptake of mobile data services (to avoid bill shock). The impact of the new plans has been to maintain ARPU levels and encourage customer loyalty (particularly by MNOs in the USA, including T-Mobile, Verizon & AT&T). The aim has been to encourage additional smartphone data usage without penalty for “coverages”. Australian and Canadian operators fall into this category.
- With the launch of 5G services, there has been an adoption of unlimited mobile data plans as part of a premium plan to support a high price point with 5G. Some MNOs, such as Vodafone, have taken advantage of 5G to revamp their plans and offer unlimited mobile data as a standard offer. The result has been some simplification of plans, but also a need to provide other forms of differentiation (such as content).
- But in a number of markets, MNOs are still being selective about how they introduce unlimited services. Unlimited call minutes and SMS are provided, but not always mobile data. Instead, there is the use of unlimited (or zero-rated) data for particular social networks or content streaming services, but not yet for all types of mobile da
- In short, although the use of unlimited mobile data plans is growing, MNOs appear still cautious about their introduction. Unlimited mobile data plans are instead being used as a premium product. MNOs fear that unlimited mobile data across all plans may reduce the opportunity to up-sell more services and gain more revenue. On April 14th, 2020 Reuters reported the CEO of German telco 1&1 Drillisch AG as saying: “Because of flat-rate deals, we hardly get any extra revenue if people spend more time surfing or talking on the phone,” - Ralph Dommermuth, CEO, 1&1 Drillisch.
- Average data consumption is increasing and according to an Ericsson report published in November 2020, the global average was 9.6 GB in 2020 and increases to 34 GB by 2026, a CAGR of 24 percent. In Western Europe, the increase will be from 11.3 percent to 46 GB by 2026, shown as the second highest increase.
"Not every operator will go down the line of offering unlimited." Congstar CEO Peter Opeman, Telekom Germany’s sub-brand which launched in 2007 view on unlimited; "The unlimited use of a network is a premium offer. This may be reserved for colleagues at our parent company. However, it is also clear that we always adapt our offerings to the needs of data usage. We want to remain flexible. For the time being, however, it remains at the 200 GB limit."
A pricing analysis of selective operators shows that moving to an unlimited price plan can cost up to Euro 30 per month more or even be cheaper than the top inclusive x GB plan, though it would offer a far lower speed.
- The Main Points - New Types of Unlimited Mobile Data Plans
- New Types of Unlimited Mobile Data plans with the impact of 5G Services
- Finland - MNO plans off unlimited mobile data with differentiation based on download speeds
- Telenor Norway - Case Study
- Vodafone Group - Move to Unlimited Mobile Data Plans
- MNOs Unlimited Plans Differentiated by Download Speed
- MNOs with Unlimited Mobile Data for Specific Applications only
- South America Case Study - No Unlimited Mobile Data but Unlimited Social Media Use Instead
- USA Case Study - Examples of Unlimited Mobile Data Plans - Focus on the US Market
- Unlimited Mobile data for Prepaid Customers
- Unlimited Mobile for Convergent Customers
- Conclusions - The new types of unlimited mobile data plan
- Appendix I Details of Vodafone subsidiaries’ unlimited tariff plans
- Appendix II - List of operators covered
List of Figures - The new types of unlimited mobile data plans worldwide
Figure 1 - The SFR free promotion of YouTube, linked to the launch of 4G with SFR RED 5 GB plans
Figure 2 - The T-Mobile USA video streaming promotion called Binge On
Figure 3 - The graphic showing the 3 UK Go Binge Promotion launched in 2017
Figure 4 - The Orange 5G plans including the unlimited mobile data plan
Figure 5 - Movistar’s infinite mobile plan
Figure 6 - Vodafone’s unlimited 5G mobile plan
Figure 7 - Vodafone’s Netherlands Red Unlimited plan
Figure 8 - Elisa’s Data Bundles Subscription Split - usage-based versus speed-dependent
Figure 9 - Telenor Norway’s speed-dependent postpaid plans
Figure 10 - Telenor Sweden’s postpaid subscriptions from 4 GB up to unlimited
Figure 11 - Vodafone UK’s five unlimited offers o including the offers that come with Entertainment
Figure 12 - A table showing the types of unlimited mobile data plans provided by Vodafone in each country market
Figure 13 - O2 Germany’s New Unlimited speed-dependent plans
Figure 14 - A1 Austria’s 5G speed-dependent tariff portfolio
Figure 15 - Magenta Austria’s unlimited portfolio
Figure 16 - Sunrise Switzerland’s unlimited tariff portfolio
Figure 17 - A graphic from AT&T showing the unlimited mobile data plans launched in January 2016
Figure 18 - A chart showing the entry point in USD per month for the 4 US MNOs from 2014 to 2019
Figure 19 - A picture showing Roger (Canada’s) Infinite plans
Figure 20 - A picture showing giffgaffs new golden goodybag
Figure 21 - A picture of Virgin Media UK’s converged bundles including mobile data
Figure 22 - Pricing for unlimited versus data inclusive GB tariff plans
Figure 23 - Chart showing Smartphone postpaid plan - lowest unlimited priced plan on offer(T&Cs vary, see figure above) - February 2021
Figure 24 - Chart showing Smartphone postpaid plan - Selected highest data allowance after unlimited(T&Cs vary, see figure above) - February 2021
Figure 25 - Price difference between lowest priced unlimited plans and highest priced plan with a GB data allowance - February 2021
A selection of companies mentioned in this report includes:
- 1&1 Drillisch AG
- A1 Austria
- Free Mobile (France)
- Magenta Austria
- O2 Germany
- Sunrise Switzerland
- Telekom Germany
- Telenor Norway
- Telenor Sweden
- Virgin Media
The analyst researches its reports typically within a three-month period. All of its reports are based on primary and secondary research including interviews with relevant companies/operators covered in the report. The analyst also draws on its extensive in-house database and its contacts in the field of telecommunications it has established since the company was launched in 2006.
The analyst has 26-years of experience in the field of telecoms pricing both mobile and fixed. They have a network of consultants as well as a multi-lingual research team, with languages spoken French, German, Polish and Spanish.