How the modern smartphone killed off unlimited mobile data

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I remember how a number of Nigerians have been calling for unlimited data plans from network operators for years ago. I remember telling them that unlimited data plans were going to die off – and it was going to happen because of our modern smartphones. Many times, the complainers pointed at US network operators who provided unlimited data plans as examples fforr Nigerian networks to follow. Back in 2009, I asked the rhetorical question, Unlimited Data Plans on the way out. In that article, I hinted at the effect that smartphones are having on network resources. I am happy to announce to you that unlimited data plans are all but dead in that country.

Here are excerpts from a BGR article titled, Brace yourself: The death of unlimited mobile data is coming:

The two leading wireless carriers in the United States built up huge smartphone user bases while luring customers in with unlimited data plans. The writing was on the wall years ago, however, and as mobile data usage exploded, Verizon Wireless and AT&T both dumped their unlimited plans in favor of tiered data offerings that slam users with overage charges if they use too much data in a billing period. Sprint and T-Mobile continue to use unlimited data plans as a point of differentiation with their larger rivals but as one analysis pointed out this week, the days of unlimited data at Sprint and T-Mobile are numbered.

Writing at PCMag, longtime wireless industry reporter Sascha Segan has penned a piece that sheds light on a simple truth U.S. wireless subscribers will all soon have to face: Unlimited mobile data plans are dying and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Modern smartphones are horrible data guzzlers compared to the older and now retired first generation of smartphones. The huge difference in data consumption is the deluge of apps that are available for the new platforms. Setting up the Motorola Moto G yesterday, before I started using the phone at all, I was notified of over ten app updates waiting, as well as an available Android kitkat update. I must mention too that none of my essential apps were pre-installed on the phone: BBM, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote and a host of others. After installing all those, in everyday use, more updates will surely pop up, and each of those apps will result in more data consumption. All of these multiplied across users on each network has a huge impact on network integrity.

Now, consider that bandwidth is even more expensive here in Nigeria, and our networks not as robust as what obtains in developed markets. Get the picture? If unlimited mobile data plans are dying off on the US of A, there is no chance in hell that they will thrive here. As such, if you are still hoping for unlimited mobile internet plans here, you need to drop that dream now and wake up. It isn’t going to happen. And it is your love of apps and media that pulled the trigger and now nails the coffin shut.

Actually, it would be wrong to say that unlimited mobile data is dead here in Nigeria. It never existed in the first place.


  1. Modern smartphones are horrible data guzzlers compared to the older and now retired first generation of smartphones

    The smartphones and their OS are to blame. Yes.

    Human nature also comes into play, here.

    Humans consume more data because the conditions are apposite for them to do so.

    If data becomes more expensive, the networks slower or the devices have slower processing speeds, data consumption rate would plummet.

    Parkinson Law.

  2. Blackberry then RIM forsaw this trend but market forces push it down the ladder of demand. My htc 1, galaxy y pro duos aNd galaxy core can go To hell for all I care, my blackberry curve 9360 then 9300 have been reliably serving and still doing a marvellous job, I wonder why when I get my mails on the go, my essential IMs, social network are on, I wonder what I would still be looKing for. Switch my data off…………… No way that’s why I will still stick to my bb(legacy OS) till a better alternative available, tired of been a geek.

  3. I don’t know whether it has to do with modern smartphones or how people are using their phones. In fact, the “modern” smartphone has actually opened a world of mobile internet in a way that it hadn’t before.

    My non-techy brother a few years ago signed up to an unlimited plan, which is actually unlimited. This is a guy switching from a feature phone to a smartphone, and that opened a whole new world to him – like Youtube on demand! He’s not the only one, as many other people I know who transitioned from feature phones were suddenly doing things online I had been doing years before with their shiny new smartphones.

    Not long ago I signed up to a 3GB monthly plan. When I sent a text to check my balance it said my data plan was “unlimited”. So in 2014, 3GB is considered “unlimited” (subject to t&c and fair use policy).

    Modern smartphones are convenient. Need to check something on the go? Go online. So naturally with more people doing that, unlimited appeals to the consumer but not to the networks. They want to generate more money so naturally, limited data plans will do just that.

  4. …As such, if you are still hoping for unlimited mobile internet plans here, you need to drop that dream now and wake up. It isn’t going to happen. And it is your love of apps and media that pulled the trigger and now nails the coffin shut.

    I don’t know if anyone is clamouring for unlimited data but I’m sure there could be something like that for those willing to foot the bill. My own is more like equity in data pricing among smartphone users. What’s the benefit of an unlimited data plan if you don’t have access to your data or if the data is not serving you any real purpose?

    I remember once subscribing to MTN 3GB all night plan that costs N2500 some three years ago that I couldn’t exhaust within the 30 days window. In fact I couldn’t even use up to 1GB out of the plan and that simply market the end of my romance with MTN data services.

    Noni captured the picture perfectly. Yes, apps must have contributed to high demand in data but never before has there been this huge number of the human population on smartphones and the corresponding services that are data intensive that sprang out with the smartphone growth.

    YouTube application is not something that you are going to find in most Symbian devices if at all and Facebook is relatively new as well as Twitter, Instagram etc. I certainly want unlimited data but I don’t need it. My basic data needs are already taken care of while I can still indulge myself a bit sometimes on YouTube too. My main concerns are more reasonable pricing and equity too. I’m still enjoying Airtel’s BB Social plan that’s only manageable because of Airtel network instability but if the 1GB plan at N1200 for 30 days is standardised for all smartphones officially, there’s just very little I can complain about. My other other data need for laptop is now being taken care of by Swift.

  5. u must belong to class of old school. I can’t believe someone can still be proud of bb, not even bb10. When the world is far ahead of time, u re here praising dead os. my dear, forget data consumption, though it worth it. Android and ios re the best. compare apps, the difference re so clear. If bb really believed in their data compression policy, they won’t have produce the z &q series of bb.

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