Let me get this out of the way right off the bat, true unlimited mobile data plan does not exist in America. Or anywhere else.
So you ask me, “What do you mean by true unlimited?”
I answer by asking you, “How do you define unlimited?”
I am using the USA as an example, because very often, people in other countries hear about “unlimited” data plans there and start clamouring for same in their own countries. So, let me help you understand what unlimited data is in practice.
Ordinarily, unlimited would mean, ‘without restriction’, ‘not confined’ and so on. But to the carriers, unlimited means, ‘as long as you don’t use too much data, you’re not restricted.’
You see, the way unlimited mobile data works is, if you’re a heavy user of data, the speed of your connection is slowed way down (throttled) after you reach what is called a “threshold” or “reasonable limit”. In some cases, the subscriber is cut off completely after crossing that mark.
For example, if you’re on a 4G or 3G unlimited data plan, your connection can slow to as low as 128kbps once you have crossed the threshold. I have to say here that the threshold is different depending on what data plan you’re on. A lot of the prepaid plans are usually upfront about the amount of bandwidth you enjoy at optimum speed before your connection slows down. This is not true unlimited data in my opinion.
True unlimited data for me would be to be able to use data the way I want without any form of restriction. That would be heaven for me really, but I’m not sure that it is realistic. The plans tend to have a severe impact on infrastructure. There are always a set of subscribers who download so much data (video, audio and games) at the expense of other subscribers.
It is worth noting by the way that in the USA, both AT&T and Verizon have long discontinued unlimited data plans.
As a Nigerian who has experienced the so-called unlimited data plans, I honestly must say that the slowing down of internet connection some way into my data plan subscription is always a bitter pill to swallow. As a matter of fact, it is always a very painful experience. I would rather buy an internet plan with a data cap that has the same speed all through my subscription period. That is my preference anytime any day.
But do stop dreaming about truly unlimited data plans. There is always one limit or the other. Those plans are only unlimited in name.