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EE: unlimited data tariffs are "unnecessary"

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By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 26 Feb 2013 at 10:06

Unlimited data plans are unnecessary since 4G users are averaging only 1.4GB a month, according to EE's CEO Olaf Swantee.

EE is the first mobile operator in the UK to offer 4G services. When it launched last October, it was criticised for imposing tight data caps - including a 500MB plan that could be chewed through in five minutes at the network's maximum speed.

Speaking at MWC 2013, Swantee said that on average users are actually getting through only 1.4GB a month. "It shows that the instinct for unlimited data plans is unnecessary," he said.

Comment

Lies, damned lies and statistics. If EE imposes strict data caps on its customers, it's hardly surprising that the average usage figure isn't exactly sky-high. People will stay within the bounds of their data cap because they don't want to incur extra charges. Run a pilot test with customers who aren't hampered by a data cap and let's see what that does to the average, Mr Swantee.

Barry Collins, Editor

PC Pro's own survey revealed that most users stay below 1GB a month, but EE's numbers suggest users still don't download very much on a mobile connection, raising the question of why they're paying extra for a 4G network, as the plans include the most expensive contract in the UK.

Swantee said the 4G network speeds were averaging about 16Mbits/sec, and topped out at 50Mbits/sec, adding that a quarter of traffic on the network is used to watch videos. "Beyond video, maps, mobile banking and video-calling in particular have seen the biggest uplift in use compared to 3G," he said.

EE's recent quarterly results showed the arrival of 4G hadn't immediately boosted customer numbers, but Swantee said EE had seen sales growth of 10% every week, and had signed up 1,000 business customers.

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User comments

Barry - you're spot on with your comment. I am on a 3 Unlimited data tariff and now I just dont think about what I use my phone for, I just do it.

Previously on a metered account, I would either use the phone sparingly, leave it until later or just not bother.

By Fraz_pro on 26 Feb 2013

If unlimited data packages are unnecessary, why does EE (under its T-Mobile brand) make such a big fuss about the unlimited (and no fair usage policy) Full Monty tariff?

By PaulOckenden on 26 Feb 2013

Cuts both ways ...

... that argument. If the unlimited plans are unnecessary because few users hit the limit then equally the limit is unnecessary!

By JohnAHind on 26 Feb 2013

Morons

Barry, spot on. If you don't have unlimited data then obviously you try and use as little as possible.

If EE were correct then it still makes no sense, if people "only" use 1.5GB then why not make an unlimited package anyway. According to EE they will still only use 1.5GB so what difference would it make? Ohh, I get it. Their lying.

By JStairmand on 26 Feb 2013

Did somebody give the CEO a shovel?

This makes no sense, they should just offer an unlimited package and charge money for it if people use so little data anyway.

Personally I only use 500mb a month tops, but that's only because I have a 1GB limit on O2 (only decent network where I live even for calls), if they offered unlimited I'd take it for the comfort....But I'd also use more data.

The latter is why I think they won't offer it as they fear people using it more as streaming services pick up, at least until their monopoly ends and rivals start offering it.

By tech3475 on 26 Feb 2013

Exactly

Barry, I just logged on to make exactly the same comment. He're hoping some more sense arrives once EE aren't a monopoly on the technology.

By piphil on 26 Feb 2013

Unlimited tetherable data :)

Unlimited tetherable data is the way to go. I use The One Plan on Three & since my rural landline broadband ticks along at 700kbps compared with 5-7Mbps on Three, my mobile broadband takes a battering... 40GB so far this month & no complaints from Three, who are going to run their 4G in with their standard tariffs. :) Winner!

By apemonkeyman on 26 Feb 2013

Unlimited tetherable data :)

Unlimited tetherable data is the way to go. I use The One Plan on Three & since my rural landline broadband ticks along at 700kbps compared with 5-7Mbps on Three, my mobile broadband takes a battering... 40GB so far this month & no complaints from Three, who are going to run their 4G in with their standard tariffs. :) Winner!

By apemonkeyman on 26 Feb 2013

I assume he's being ironic?

As everyone else has pointed-out, the proof of Mr Swantee's pudding would be in its eating!

Mr Swantee's irrational oxymoronic outburst shows why EE is shaping-up to be the worst-run least popular network.

That's quite an achievement in an industry already characterised by greed, incompetence and arrogance.

By wittgenfrog on 26 Feb 2013

Proof that monkeys get to the top of any management tree fastest

"Most of the people using our vastly overpriced and tightly limited data tariffs don't use much data, therefore our conclusion is, nobody wants an unlimited data package"

Try asking all the people with smart phones what they want.

By cheysuli on 26 Feb 2013

Mr Average barely uses data

As most people barely use data it's not surprising the average is low. They're going to suffer when they realise that their lack of investment means they can't handle the extra traffic from people dropping their home broadband connections. If it wasn't for gaming I'd be connecting the home PC to the net by tethering (and 3's service is just fast enough for fps gaming)

I much prefer 3's attitude to limits: "if you used your phone [to download] for every minute of every day you could only possibly use ... up to 1000GB each month. So in a sense, there is a data limit of up to 1000GB".

By Mark_Thompson on 26 Feb 2013

WOW!

In South Africa 1GB is how much we get for a PC data plan!

By Icantgetascreenname on 26 Feb 2013

further fuel for stoking..

Since coming off Orange, with WP7 and never going over 1Gb, typically been under 750Mb, I have been stung and stung again by EE. I signed up for 1Gb with a Lumia 920 and had used that within 1 week. total for the month over 4Gb. Using exactly the same Apps in the same way. No movie downloads, no music streaming, WiFi where ever possible.
I was told that 4g would download more Data than 3g for a given web page (still not convinced, but anyway) so I turned the 4g off by limiting data speeds to 3g. Nevermind that I was rarely in a 4g area anyway.
Now typically using 2-3 GB a month, a 4 fold increase.
"customers aren't using as much data"? I beg to differ.

By nickallison on 26 Feb 2013

Also have to agree with Barry that people are probably being cautious with their usage to avoid being stung for going over the cap.

My contract ran out this month and not having as much budget as I would have liked for putting towards the handset I agonised long and hard about whether to go with the phone I wanted (Note 2) with a 1GB cap or go with my second choice (S3) with unlimited data.

In the end I decided that there's no point having a high end smart phone if I was constantly watching my data usage and so went with the unlimited data plan on 3

By cerebros on 26 Feb 2013

Here in HK I am upgrading my phone, and to get it for free I need to change plans. PCCW have thrown out unlmited data plans so I need to go onto a cap for the first time in my life.

They offered me the choice of a 10GB 4G plan for more than I'm currently paying, or a 5GB plan for a bit less. They looked at my data usage on 3G and claimed that 5GB would be plenty.

I then argued that if I would never use 5GB then I would never use 10GB and asked them to put their money where their mouth was and give me the 10GB plan at the 5GB price.

Painted into a corner by their own claims they relented and gave me the higher cap at the lower price.

I feel a bit smug about it, but annoyed that they took away the unlimited if they claim that nobody's using it, and then charging people pretty much the same for data capped plans.

By Phoomeister on 27 Feb 2013

Also have to agree with Barry that people are probably being cautious with their usage to avoid being stung for going over the cap.

My contract ran out this month and not having as much budget as I would have liked for putting towards the handset I agonised long and hard about whether to go with the phone I wanted (Note 2) with a 1GB cap or go with my second choice (S3) with unlimited data.

In the end I decided that there's no point having a high end smart phone if I was constantly watching my data usage and so went with the unlimited data plan on 3

By cerebros on 27 Feb 2013

Nope, this doesn't make sense.

I have an office in a business centre, which is great except that their broadband connections are ridiculously expensive, and get even higher with usage (and we can't have our own phone lines etc installed).

So when we found out that we now have "very good" 4G coverage with EE a couple of weeks ago, we rushed out to buy a 4G dongle (well, we actually went for a MiFi router for only £10 more).

It actually turned out to be great, far faster than the business centre's connection (around 20mbit up and down most of the time, whereas our connection via the centre's broadband is limited to around 5mbit).

So we thought that was great, as even at EE's prices it still worked out cheaper and faster. But the problem is EE's mobile broadband tariffs currently only go up to 8gb per month, and we normally use around 20-25gb. So (being on the 8gb tariff), we've had to abandon the 4G and switch back to the centre's broadband after only a matter of days, as we were quickly running out of data. Additional data seems to be charged at £15 per 2gb(!), so at that rate it would quickly add up to way more than we were paying before. It would actually be cheaper for us to get 3 or 4 8gb SIM cards, but that would just get silly with having to swap them round every week or so.

For some reason EE are offering a 20gb tariff with phones and SIM only, but not for mobile broadband. Why?! It makes no sense! We were going to try to switch to that now that we have the dongle, even though we'd have no use for the unlimited minutes and texts, but we'd have to commit to 12 (or is it 24?) months for that one - and their tariffs just seem to make no sense at the moment. Although the 20gb SIM only would still work out cheaper for us (at £46 a month), the 8gb SIM only tariff is actually a lot more expensive than the mobile broadband version we're on now (£41 a month vs £26 a month). So it stands to reason that a 20gb mobile broadband tariff should surely cost less, so I'm just going to wait and see if they sort things out.

Why on earth would you use only 8gb for full mobile broadband but 20gb on a phone?!

By EddyM on 28 Feb 2013

1.4GB really? On 3 i max that easily

ok look i'm not switching to EE because 3 offers me something that EE doesn't thats unlimited data and i use it LIKE it's ment to be used.
Wi-fi hotspot to my kindle & laptop to watch porn!

just kiddin, no i use it for videogames at times to splashtop to my home PC and basicly maintain mobility, i'm what you would deem a Data whore and i use my phone as a personal computer not a phone per say.

the fact i can download and install steam games to my laptop at avg speeds of 12mb in some areas means it makes me happy. i've exceeded 1.4GB easily in the space of 48 hours.

By tuggray0 on 21 Sep 2013

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