Let’s Hope Indian Telcos don’t learn ‘slice and dice’ tricks from their US Counterparts

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A few weeks ago, US Carrier T-Mobile launched their 'unlimited' plan called T-Mobile ONE. Like any other unlimited plan, even this came up with lots of terms and conditions. The first thing which comes to our mind is the 'Fair Usage Policy' or FUP which would mean after using up some 'big' amount of data, speeds go down to 2G speeds. But T-Mobile took things to a different level altogether. For that matter, offerings of foreign carriers generally have a term or two for tethering. Now let's take a look at the ONE offerings -


As you can see everything is reportedly unlimited - talk, SMS, data and more like unlimited international roaming. The plan costs $70 per month for individuals.

For a limited time, a family of four can sign up for just $35 per line. The 1st line is $70 per month; the 2nd line is $50 per month; the third line is $20, and the fourth line is free!

However, after one goes through the small text there's a lot more to this unlimited. In the sub-bullets, we explore how things would change if Indian operators decide to come up with such 'innovative' plans -

  1. Pulse Rate: Partial minutes/megabytes rounded up.
    • We Indians are used to 'partial minutes' thing i.e., for 30 seconds call, we pay for a full minute but we also have per second plans. Per second plans are a huge success in India and these days, it has become harder to find per minute plans from operators.
    • Data usage rounding off to the next MB is something new. If you are on a 2G connectivity and use few KBs of data, you pay per MB. This might not matter much for an unlimited plan but if the data billing pulse is changed to /MB then customers will have to face the music.
  2. Tethering: T?Mobile ONE comes with unlimited Mobile HotSpot Service speeds at 3G (512Kbps). For full speed tethering, one will have to get unlimited high-speed 4G LTE Mobile HotSpot at an additional $25/month.
    • We often use our mobile data as a backup connection when our primary wired broadband goes down. But with T-Mobile ONE like plans, a plan meant for a phone is for phone; no using it as a hotspot to connect to a PC or a tablet. The FAQ simply says, Hotspot, data sticks, and netbooks are not eligible for T-Mobile ONE.
  3. Video streams at up to 1.5 Mbps unless you have an HD Day Pass. The resolution is reportedly 480p, which T-Mobile notes as suitable to smartphone screens. HD video passes cost $3 for 24 hours. HD Video streaming and tethering can be combined for $25 per month. selection_030
  4. Additional devices: To use an unlimited plan on a tablet, one will have to pay an additional $20 (note that it's additional to this ONE plan, not available separately at that price). For wearables, like your fitness tracker, it would cost another $5 per month.
  5. The FUP Part: Now comes the important thing, which we are used to looking up to in every internet plan we come across. T-Mobile notes that high usage customers (those who use >26 GB/month which they peg at 3% of the customer base) might notice lower speeds depending on network conditions. So the FUP is 26 GB!

Since then, another major carrier, Sprint has come up with a plan called 'Unlimited Freedom'. The terms are more or less similar even there -

Mobile optimized: video streams at up to 480p+ resolution, music at up to 500kbps, streaming cloud gaming at up to 2mbps. Premium resolution: video streams at up to 1080p+, music at up to 1.5mbps, gaming streams at up to 8mbps. Data deprioritization applies during times of congestion.

As we mentioned in the title, let's hope our Indian operators do not learn such 'innovative' slice and dice approaches for things which we take for granted - like tethering, video at the resolution of choice (at same speeds as other content). What do you think about US Carriers way of charging for plans? Let us know via comments.

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