A couple of telcos are claiming to offer unlimited data plans and subscribers are giving them kudos. Often, the claim is a focus of intense campaign blitz targeted at winning customer loyalty. The question to ask is – are these telcos really offering unlimited data plans? If they are, what are the definite benefits to the subscriber? This is important because subscribers must get value for their money and seen as such.
In the early days of telecom revolution in the early 2000, some telcos brazenly exploited Nigerians in a manner that made informed observers cringe. A particular telco was said to have boasted that what they raked in within six months in Nigeria exceeded what they earned in a particular African country in three years! Today, this same telco claims to be offering unlimited data plan, and innocent subscribers are falling for it. Is this thriving in anomaly?
In these hard times, telcos are expected to show demonstrable empathy towards their subscribers. It is part of their corporate social responsibility to offer service commensurate with what the consumer pays for. It therefore suffices that unlimited data plan is not a rhyme that everyone must join in reciting. Unlimited data plan must have something significantly beneficial to the subscriber. Yes, nothing with value is free; but consumers’ needs and expectations should be met in a manner that gives value for the money spent.
As an avid user of data and determined to know which unlimited data plan would best suit my purpose, I sought to shop around in the major retail outlets in metropolitan Lagos. High on my ranking were the major telcos; Airtel, MTN, Glo, 9mobile, Swift, Smile, Spectranet and ntel. These operators are offering unlimited data plans but most are limited in many ways thereby detracting from the true meaning of unlimited.
Buoyed up by the findings of my limited exercise, a more elaborate survey was conducted in which people who use data plans were surveyed. The outcome was a further affirmation that Smile’s unlimited data plans are about the only genuine unlimited data plans, which offer value for money, unlike what obtains with other telcos because of the unique ingredient. The findings also indicated that Smile’s unlimited data plans are affordable relative to what other telcos offer.
According to our findings, Smile unlimited data plans provide uninterrupted data connectivity, although they do comply with a Fair Usage Policy as per NCC regulation but there is no data cap and customers can use as much data as they want until the unlimited data plan validity expires. In comparison to that, Airtel claims to offer unlimited data plans. However, their unlimited data plans have a data cap. Other telcos lay claims to offering unlimited data plans but to varying degree as our findings show that as at today, the only true unlimited data plan in Nigeria is that currently offered by Smile.
Pros and Cons of Telco Unlimited Plans
Top 30-day Unlimited plan Comparison by Operator
One important note about Airtel Ultra Platinum is when customers exhaust the 550GB before 30 days, they will get 3GB daily bonus.
For instance, if the customer finishes the 550GB on the same day of purchase, they get 3GB daily for next 30 days, which sums up to 90GB. Hence the total value provided is 640GB for N60,000. Herein lies the deficiency of this Ultra Platinum and a clear indication that it is not “Unlimited” because an unlimited plan should not require daily bonus if it’s really unlimited.
This is the same for Airtel’s other Ultra offerings
The above table compares the mid-range Unlimited 30 day plans from various operators.
Airtel’s Ultra Diamond plan cost N30,000 and has an FUP of 210GB, 3GB daily bonus with a validity period of 30 days. The 3GB daily bonus sums up to 90GB over a 30 day period making a total of 300GB data available for use on that plan after which customers will no longer have Internet access.
The Unlimited Family from Ntel, their only option for subscribers with validity of 30 days having 150GB FUP; despite being the cheapest unlimited plan at the cost of N18, 500 gives the customer about 8.1GB per N1, 000 cost as against the 12GB per N1, 000 cost on related Freedom3Mbps plan from Smile. So, the subscriber gets more data for going with Freedom3Mbps plan from Smile. The customer also gets more speed up to 3Mbps on the Smile’s option than on the Ntel’s Unlimited Family whose FUP speed is just 512kbps.
The Freedom3Mbps plan from Smile with speed up to 3mbps and no data cap when put side by side with the Spectranet Always On 100 at the cost of N19,960, shows a more data offering of 140GB on the N40 extra cost from Smile, not minding the unlimited night browsing from Spectranet. This is additional benefit to the customer in terms of data value.
Apparently, Smile’s unlimited data plan products are designed to serve the purpose of cost effectiveness, speed and affordability. With the Smile’s Freedom plans revolution, the customer enjoys seamless internetInternet for 30 days and remains always connected.
It is therefore safe to conclude that Smile offers Unlimited plans that are truly unlimited. That cannot be said for Airtel Unlimited plans for instance. Evidently, only Smile is actually offering unlimited plans via its Freedom plans. A notable drawback is just that Smile’s Freedom plans are available in the 8 major cities in which Smile operates (Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kaduna, Benin, Port-Harcourt, Asaba and Onitsha).
Overall, it became apparent from the survey and direct customers’ experience that the most pocket friendly unlimited data plans in the Nigerian market are those offered by Smile Communications. Also, in terms of utilitarian value, the Smile unlimited data plans offer the most and therefore the best value to the customer. Next in the pecking order in terms of price is Ntel, which offers the cheapest unlimited plan while Airtel is the first runner up in terms of value to the customer. The other networks, in spite of their respective strong showing bring up the rear both in terms of price and value.