Are unlimited mobile data plans worth the hype?
02 May 2020
We’ve requested them for years in Australia, however, with the current limitations in place, are unlimited mobile data plans really worth the hype?
What are unlimited mobile data plans?
Unlimited mobile data plans are just what it states in the name, a plan with no caps or data allowance on the amount of mobile data you can use.
When looking for the perfect mobile plan, long expiry plan or data-only plan, unlimited data plans are worth considering. But it’s important to know that there are upsides and downsides to these plans.
What is mobile data?
Mobile data is content delivered to your phone via the internet. It’s used to load webpages, MMS messages, play online games, stream video content or music, or anything else that uses the internet.
Mobile data is transmitted by data towers directly to your phone. Every couple of years a new generation (3G, 4G, 5G, etc.) of wireless communication is introduced that can achieve new speeds and keep us even more connected.
What does unlimited data mean, and what's an unlimited data plan?
Unlimited mobile data means infinite internet access and use, so long as you’re within range of cell towers.
This means no worrying about extra costs at the end of the month or suddenly no longer being able to load a webpage because you’ve run out of data. Some even find themselves wondering what to do with unlimited data. Unlimited data mobile plans can feel very liberating and might help reduce worry in your life, but they’re not entirely problem-free.
What’s the catch with an unlimited data SIM plan?
If you’re thinking unlimited mobile data is too good to be true, you’re not entirely wrong. Unlimited data plans give you unlimited data. This is great if you’re the type to go over your limit accidentally and end up with a bigger bill than you had planned for.
The catch, however, is that you might face slower speeds. Most unlimited data plans in Australia will feature a data threshold, and when you exceed that threshold your download speed will decrease.
Some speeds are even 5% of the previous speeds. This might deter some people, so it’s important to check how big the data threshold is before signing up to a plan.
Speed caps? no thanks
As it stands, the unlimited data mobile plans available in the Australian market, give you a base data allowance (ranging between 15GB-150GB and starting at $50/month).
Once you exceed your base allowance, you can freely continue using data on your mobile device, the caveat is that download speeds will be slowed down significantly and capped at 1.5Mbps for the rest of your billing cycle.
With the average 4G download speed in Australia sitting around 37Mbps, it’s obviously a massive reduction (it's important to note the maximum obtainable download speeds of your 4G connection are hugely dependant on coverage and the device you're using).
Even if you’re someone who powers through data at a high rate, there are tremendous alternatives on the market that you should probably consider first, before diving into an unlimited mobile data plan that includes speed caps.
Now to be fair, if we were in the year 2000 (20 friggin years ago), download speeds of 1.5Mbps would have made us happy as Larry, however in this day and age, speeds this slow simply can’t handle the demands of modern content consumption and you’ll quickly find yourself in a non-stop buffering zone - no thanks!
So, are unlimited mobile plans worth it?
For some, unlimited mobile plans are essential. You get plenty of data and even if speeds get worse after a while, at least you can still send that important email, it might just take a little while.
For others, these plans aren’t worth it at all, the slow speeds can be too much of a hindrance. It’s important to research each plan available before signing a contract for any of them, with any provider, to be sure you have the right mobile plan for your lifestyle.
The final word
I’m a heavy mobile data user myself and chew through loads of online content (including heaps of Youtube, Sports Streaming and Spotify).
With that said, I’m smart with my connectivity and always latch on to Wi-Fi at work and home. Most months I find myself landing between 20-25GB worth of usage (this makes amaysim's 30GB mobile plan the perfect fit).
No one likes the thought of their download speeds being throttled, however, for some people, the safety net of unlimited mobile data plans is exactly what they've been longing to hear.