Last week, the MVNO US Mobile announced that it would no longer offer truly unlimited data on its unlimited plans. Going forward, the small fraction of US Mobile customers that use over 75GB of data in a month will experience limitations.
A US Mobile employee I interacted with on Reddit was hesitant to confirm exactly what the limitations will be. Stetson Doggett reported that a US Mobile rep said ultra-heavy data users will be throttled to max speeds of 1Mbps.
I’ve been regularly critical of wireless carriers selling “unlimited” plans with hidden limits. I think the trend towards “unlimited” plans may eventually lead to a wireless marketplace that’s more confusing and less consumer-friendly. That said, US Mobile’s limits aren’t bad. 75GB is a hell of a lot of data. Further, a 1Mbps throttle isn’t terrible. While service throttled to 128Kbps (sometimes called 2G speeds) can be almost unusable, you might still be able to surf the internet passably with 1Mbps. US Mobile also did a good job disclosing its new limits with a post on Reddit, an email to customers, and a new disclosure:
The disclosure is technically accurate, but I think it should be rephrased. “May notice reduced speeds” has become the industry-standard phrasing for situations where customers are deprioritized. With US Mobile, it looks like we’re dealing with throttling.1
In the past, only network operators and flanker brands owned by the operators could offer truly unlimited data.
In March, US Mobile shared a blog post titled: We’re going all in! Uncapped, unthrottled, unlimited. The post made a fuss about the carrier’s launch of a truly unlimited plan. It’s full of phrases like these:
- “Truly unlimited plans”
- “All-in Limitless”
- “Uncapped. Unthrottled.”
- “Unlimited will be unlimited again”
- “Shed this limitation”
In the end, I guess US Mobile succumbed to the economic forces that make truly unlimited plans impractical for MVNOs.