Optus has been secretly trialing a number of unlimited data plans in Australia, in what appears – to us, at least – to be the first example of unlimited mobile data plans in Australia. Relatively common in the USA and in other markets worldwide, unlimited mobile data plans aren’t something we’ve really seen here before. Optus probably came closest with its $2 Days plans, which offered (effectively) unlimited data, though the services were later capped when – perhaps – the carrier realised how popular they were (and perhaps how readily that could be abused).
This shows the danger of marketing anything in Australia as “unlimited” – not only will the consumer watchdog come down like a tonne of bricks on anything that isn’t truly unlimited, but anything that is actually unlimited is likely to be abused in some way.
Enter Optus’ Unleashed plans.
From the outset, it was made abundantly clear what was on offer, but before you get too excited, it’s worth noting that these plans were invite only, and after the media caught wind of what was happening, Optus quickly removed every mention of these plans from their website – but not before people grabbed the information to share.
Starting at $60 a month, and reducing to $50 a month for a second service, and $40 for any additional services beyond that, the plans were remarkably simple in their offering:
- Unlimited Talk & Text to Standard Australian mobiles and landlines, 13/1300 numbers and voicemail. Standard national SMS and MMS.
- Unlimited Mobile Data for use in Smartphones and some tablet devices only. Music and Video streaming, downloads and tethering at 1.5Mbps. During congestion, heavy data users may be de-prioritised and experience slower speeds. Fair Go Policy applies.
In Optus’ terms and conditions document for these plans, the carrier notes the parameters for the unlimited mobile data. While it isn’t limited by volume (or, necessarily, by speed), usage may be slowed in some circumstances – namely, music and video streaming, and tethering. The full text reads:
Music and Video downloads and streaming will be limited to 1.5Mbps which delivers Standard Definition video streaming. Tethering from your mobile phone or tablet connected to this plan will be limited to 1.5Mbps, resulting in slower downloads and uploads. For use in eligible smartphone and tablet devices only. Other devices may be blocked.
During peak and congested periods, we may manage network congestion by deprioritising the heaviest data users on the network. Heavy data users may experience slower download speeds to ensure overall network experience is maintained for all customers.
If at any time we have not enforced network management controls, we may later enforce them without notice to you.
It’s pretty simple, and dare I say, a fairly generous offering. It is worth noting, though, that this change has been a long time coming. Vodafone’s equivalent priced plan, for example, offers 52GB of data for use in Australia which is – for the vast majority of users – effectively “unlimited”, as very, very few users could expect to chew through that much mobile data in a single month.
However, for a carrier come out with the U word is a big, bold step. For the majority of users, these plans will offer no discernable limits or restrictions, and will free heavy data users from having to concern themselves with data limits, or overage charges. Knowing that your mobile bill will be $60 per month, whether you use 10GB or 100GB, is an incredibly powerful thing.
Bravo, Optus, for leading the charge for unlimited mobile data plans in Australia. We hope – and trust – that these plans will eventually be available again, this time to the public, and better, that it drives renewed price competition in the market.