Smartphones and contract limits

October 20, 2010

Mobile phone operators frequently advertise unlimited data usage as part of their contracts with a clause regarding ‘fair usage’. What do they mean by fair usage? Contract deals that advertise unlimited data usage appear to give the mobile phone consumers a great deal -don’t they? Well, yes – unless you have a smartphone like the iPhone.

Smartphones are so smart that they can multi-task and are great for downloading emails, songs, videos, TV shows and website pages using large amounts of MB’s.  For example, streaming video to your mobile could burn through 500MB of data per hour. In the past, before smartphones, consumers were unlikely to use anywhere near the download limits but the fair usage contract clause is now limiting free downloading as avid mobile users have found to their cost.

Orange charges users £3 per MB for exceeding ‘fair usage’ they typically restrict unlimited downloads to between 250MB and 750MB on monthly contracts. Vodafone, 3 and O2 limit customers to 500MB-1GB; Vodafone charges £5 per 500MB over the limit costs and 3 costs 10p per MB. Virgin and T-Mobile offer 1GB as standard although if you have a smartphone you are given a generous 3GB a month limit by T-Mobile.

All the major mobile networks have a fair use policy. Be aware that these policies give the network concerned the right to terminate your contract or tariff if they believe you are utilising too many network resources. As described above each network sets explicit limits on data usage and these can varybetween tariffs on the same network. The limits are often hidden in the small print – although your tariff may advertise ‘unlimited’ data usage – they are not actually delivering this. For more information please check out our network links on the site.



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