Mobile caps and fair use not good enough

On Friday I was taken into hospital with chronic stomach pains. Four days, many tests and some strong drugs later I still don’t really know what’s wrong.

But that isn’t the point of this post. The point of this post is to point out the ridiculousness of data caps and fair use policies.

I have my mobile from Sure and pay £45 per month. As part of that I get “unlimited data” with a daily fair use policy of 500mb per day. No charge for going over – which is good – but the speed is crippled until midnight.

That price includes unlimited texts – of which I use about ten per month, a few thousand minutes (who makes calls on a phone) and the handset cost spread over two years.

If you look elsewhere, say the major carrier JT, for roughly the same price I could get the same phone, 10,000 texts and 10,000mb per month of data – which is just under 10gb.

So while at face value “unlimited data” sounds good, with a fair use policy of 500mb per day followed by speed limiting – that really works out at a monthly data allowance of 2gb – 8 less than the JT standard.

So the real decision is – do I opt for a lower overall allowance but without the risk of any additional charges, or do I take the higher figure but risk charges if I don’t keep track of my usage.

On day three in hospital I watched a one hour tv show on my phone on the BBC iPlayer – not an unrealistic use case for a smartphone, especially when the phone company uses video services in marketing. By the end of the video I had a text saying I had used 100% of my fair use policy.

So while sat in hospital without a properly working television and only my phone for entertainment – my “unlimited data” let me watch one video before the speed was throttled to make it impossible to watch another or FaceTime my family.

I don’t like data caps but understand their need, I don’t like fair use policies, but understand their need – in fact they are the same thing and serve the same purpose.

The solution though, if your network can’t support heavy usage – is to make sure you limits keep up with regular use. One video on the iplayer I would argue is far below regular use.

Also, is you have caps and charge – you have to give the option of a hard cut off. No unexpected charges.