The Truth about Unlimited Usage Contracts
The word “unlimited” can be a very attractive word when purchasing a mobile phone contract, but does the word “Unlimited” really mean what it suggests?? A recent episode of BBCs Watchdog highlighted the issue that mobile phone companies are using the term, “fair usage policy” to limit their “Unlimited” contracts on calls, texts and internet usage. So is this Legal?? Well in fact it is. Phone companies are allowed to include the fair usage policies to protect their consumers form over use and fraudulent activities. However, surely if you say something is unlimited, it should be......... unlimited!!
Vodafone have announced that they no longer offer unlimited usage on their calls or internet tariffs, but when they say unlimited texts it means exactly that, as long as it´s not being used for unlawful practice.
Mobile phone company Three, say they believe that the use of the word “Unlimited” is misleading to customers and consumers, but they still keep using the word in their contracts! However, they have said they are making a clear explanation of their Fair Usage Policy on their website and fairly due warn people before they sign up to a contract.
O2 Fair Usage Policy
O2 say that their “Unlimited” usage tariffs are subject to a Fair Usage Policy, which says that as long as customers are using the phone for personal use and not fraudulent activity, they are free to talk for as long as they like.
Orange Fair Usage Policy
Orange say that they have now removed the use of the term “Unlimited” from their mobile data plans and that their texts now have a fair usage policy of 3000. But, they do say that they will not charge a customer unless they were acting fraudulently or, “abusing the network”.
T-mobile Fair Usage Policy
T-mobile stated that their text messages are “unlimited”, but they will monitor users that over exceed a number that may suggest they are spamming or using the offer for illegal reasons. They also say that they understand customers use their mobile internet for all types of media, but a customer should not exceed the 1GB or 3GB fair use limit (depending on tariff!).
Virgin Media Fair Usage Policy
Virgin Media say that their “Unlimited” offer comes with provisions to ensure the safety of their users and network from over abuse. They also state that their policy is subject to and adhering industry standards on the issue.
Tesco Mobile Fair Usage Policy
Tesco Mobile have been offering “unlimited” plans and have been charging people if they cross a threshold. Therefore, they´re not unlimited they are limited. But, they have issued this statement:
"Tesco Mobile offers great value and excellent service to all our customers, but to do this we have to discourage unusually demanding usage that could harm the network and the experience of all Tesco Mobile customers. Our fair usage policy means that almost all our customers on unlimited tariffs will have more than ample cover for their needs.” (Lance Batchelor, Chief Executive Officer of Tesco Telecoms and Tesco Mobile)
To conclude, the word “Unlimited” should be taken lightly when buying a mobile phone contract and you should read the fair usage policy attached to the contract. All mobile phone companies are offering different limits and boundaries on their “Unlimited” plans, so it is very important you understand it fully or other charges could be applied leaving you with a hefty lump on top of your bill!
Below is a table of the Fair Usage Policy boundaries for different phone providers. Some information we have found difficult to find, but we will try and fill it in ASAP. This information is also not set in stone and can be changed by the mobile phone provider so it is still important that you read the fair usage policy when purchasing any mobile phone.Data compiled on 17/09/2010
|Provider / Tariff||Minutes||Texts||Internet Data|
|Three Mobile||Not available||5000 texts per month||A fair use policy of 1GB per month applies for data on each mobile and 3GB per month for data on each Mobile Broadband modem.|
|O2||Not available||12000 texts per month||Pay Monthly: from 500MB a month
Unlimited Bolt On: 200MB per month
|Orange||3000 mins per month||3000 texts per month||Dolphin Tariff: evening and weekends 1GB per month.
Panther Tariff: 750MB
Mobile TV: 1GB per month(approx 2 hours)
|Orange Business Solo||5000 mins per month||3000 texts per month||Same as above|
|T-mobile||Not available||Pay Monthly: Unlimited but monitored for unlawful or fraudulent activity
Pay and Go: Texts to a maximum of 200 different numbers per month
|Pay Monthly: 1GB
Pay Monthly (Android Phone): 3GB
Pay and Go: 40MB per day
|T-mobile Business Unlimited||1800 mins per month per user||As above||1GB Blackberry e-mail|
|Virgin Media||3,000 mins to Virgin Mobile customers per month
Unlimited landline mins = 9,000 mins to landline numbers per quarter
Unlimited landline & other mobile mins = 3,000 mins per month Unlimited
|3000 texts per month||internet (Pay Monthly): 1GB per month
Pay as you go: 25MB a day (around 250 website downloads per day). It doesn't include making internet phone or video calls, peer to peer file sharing, using your phone as a modem, or using the Mobile Web or the Virgin Media site on your mobile while you're abroad. Extra will be charged.
|Tesco Mobile||3000 mins per month||3000 texts per month||On iPhone tariffs, customers have a fair usage limit of 3Gb
Customers on any other Tesco Mobile tariff, non-iPhone, the fair use limit is 500Mb