/ Technology

Do you really need unlimited mobile internet…

…unless you’re up to no good? With many companies jumping on the ‘truly unlimited internet’ bandwagon, does anyone really need access to never-ending data on-the-go?

Why am I talking about this now? There are two reasons.

Firstly, T-Mobile recently launched its ‘Full Monty’ tariff offering unlimited internet, supposedly without caveats.

Secondly, the mobile network GiffGaff, which has been offering truly unlimited internet since its inception, is weighing up its options.

Before I explore this in detail, I must first set one thing straight – I’m not going to moan about companies using the word unlimited, at least in these cases. I think it’s great that networks are finally getting to grips with the fact that the word ‘unlimited’ should mean what it says. In my view, there should be no data caps if you want to advertise your service as ‘unlimited’.

Anyway, this is all by-the-by – mobile companies have cottoned on to the fact that we love it when they tell the truth, and if they can offer truly unlimited internet, good on them. However, my question is – does anyone really need it?

Who needs unlimited internet?

I’m with GiffGaff, which runs on O2’s network, and I benefit from its truly unlimited internet at £10 a month. In an attempt to steer away from promoting the service, I’ll stop at saying that I think it’s a bargain and enjoy using the net without fear of a big bill at the end of the month.

However, despite months upon months of trying to use as the internet as much as I can (watching YouTube videos, downloading apps etc), I can’t seem to use more than 1GB of data. And I’m surprised, especially after reading stories of mobile internet bill shock.

This has led me to the conclusion that no one could possibly need more than 3GB of internet a month on their mobile.

Abusing the limits

This brings me to GiffGaff’s problem. Less than 1% of its users consume more than 30% of all the data used by its customers. This, GiffGaff argues, is distorting their data costs and making its business unsustainable.

This minority group are apparently using their data for things like downloading high-def movies (unnecessary for a small mobile screen), iTunes track lists larger than a phone could hold, and streaming video content for eight hours a day by tethering their mobile to their PC or TV.

GiffGaff is taking action by disconnecting these users. However, much of its community doesn’t think the network can call its offering ‘unlimited’ if there are such restrictions.

So, should GiffGaff simply be allowed to remove the 1% who are abusing the system and continue to offer unlimited internet? The Advertising Standards Authority allows networks to use the word ‘unlimited’ even if they take action against up to 2% of their users.

Or should GiffGaff just bite the bullet and add a fair usage policy to its internet offering, say a 3GB limit, and revoke its use of the word ‘unlimited’? At the end of the day, what’s the point of offering unlimited internet if 99% of its users aren’t really stretching the system?

rukidding says:
23 May 2012

Not everyone has access to wifi.. Hence using their very capable phones for the above mentioned reasons

rukidding says:
23 May 2012

Mate its a mobile..

..for when you’re not AT home

Garry says:
16 June 2012

We have had 1 month with Giffgaff and are going to renew for another month.

I reckon we’ve used about 10-15 Gig in that month. Both my wife and I have a laptop and Galaxy phones we set up a Mobile AP and all our devices use the Giffgaff Sim.

We get the occasional bottleneck but overall it’s a very good service.

we are in temporary accommodation and as soon as we get a proper home will get BT Infinity. But Giffgaff fills a hole perfectly whilst in temporary.

yorick says:
9 July 2012

obviously, nothing ever is *unlimited*.

you might say companies are being foolish in using ‘unlimited’ in their advertising,

but whining that its ‘not actually unlimited’ is as ignorant as believing it can be.

and since you read the contract, you know that you can be warned/limited/bared etc if you adversely impact the company’s operations in certain ways.

there always will be the 1% of users that causes trouble (more or less legitimate) – in any business.
its pays to be prepared for that.

DanielM says:
9 July 2012

“and since you read the contract, you know that you can be warned/limited/bared etc if you adversely impact the company’s operations in certain ways. ”

Its also worth noteing that they carnt bar or place unfair policies anymore in accordance with the new ASA rules

yorick says:
9 July 2012

hi garry,
I’m afraid that using giffgaff goodybags (£10, £15 etc) as APN is NOT allowed (=tethering). you might get bared.

giffgaff provides GigaBags for this, starting at £5/500mb.

I reckon we’ve used about 10-15 Gig in that month. Both my wife and I have a laptop and Galaxy phones we set up a Mobile AP and all our devices use the Giffgaff Sim.

DanielM says:
9 July 2012

It sounds like garry has been listening to the Giffgaff-Fanboys

Tethering works perfectly fine on giffgaff and they have no way of telling this

Not just because its not possible but because they are a MNVO and have no network to detect this.

@DanielM, they can look at the HTTP headers identifying your browser, which will show that you’re using a PC rather than a laptop browser. This is not absolute proof, as headers can be spoofed quite easily, but it could be enough to make them suspicious. Also, although they operate as an MNVO, they are wholly owned by O2, the network they operate on, so they may be able to ask their parent company to supply them the information. More to the point, however, it doesn’t matter whether they can proove you’re tethering, you’re still breaching their T&Cs.

Having said that, I’m not implying that I’m in favour of these T&C’s; in fact, I wish the networks simply told you that you can have X gigabytes per month and how you use the allowance is nobody’s business but yours.

DanielM says:
9 July 2012

I think header inspection is something thats on the legal barrier. And o2 have no method to perform this due to there network configuration. And as you said header spoofing is very easy and is often used in browsers such as opera etc. they accuse people of tethering who use alot of data. yet netflix uses alot of data as does iplayer etc

Matt Kaye says:
22 August 2012

You ask, ‘How can anyone need Unlimited Internet’

Well that’s simple, I originally went for the T Mobile Full Monty package as it was truly unlimited because I use an application called Spotify where I pay and extra £10 a month to Spotify so I can use their application on my smart phone. Spotify streams music to your device at an optional high bit rate. Each song therefore that you stream would be eating up your usage of mobile internet a fast pace. Also I have an AUX port in my car so I simply put on some music I want for a long drive or commute to work and hey presto, I get any music I want when I want in my car.

This is one of the reasons, that i, and many others want unlimited Internet.

Another reason could be downloading movies to watch on the screen, OK its small but so what,t hats what people might want.

It seems to me that your stuck in a bubble, there’s a world of other things you can do with Smart Phones and unlimited Internet which is why there is such a demand

On another note – What is the usage cap on GiffGaff? is it uncapped? I read that someone did get barred for using 7GB, which I agree, is quite a lot.


DanielM says:
22 August 2012

Well. The GiffGaff “Cap” is 1GB An hour or 3GB a day. And 7GB is hardly alot with the mobile internet speeds these days (Providing you have a good device)

People are not moaning because they use hundreds of GB a month its how its used in a paticular session. Nothing else.

Matt Kaye says:
22 August 2012

Just seen this so that answers my question

“According to the ASA’s adjudication giffgaff explained that they would suspend customers using over 1GB an hour and contact them to ensure they were using the service legitimately. If they were, service would be restored”

I think Internet should be unlimited because it is the hardest thing to monitor. I often get charged for calls I haven’t made but I can check that. Can I prove I only used 1gb of Internet. There is no way of checking. I got charged an extra £50 on a recent bill for going over my 1gb and I do not believe I could possibly have done this but how can I prove it. I would change to any company genuinely offering unlimited Internet just for piece of mind because it is difficult to monitor. I think that offering unlimited Internet is a good competitive selling point for mobile phone companies. Only thing is I just cannot work out what companies are actually offering this.

Eddy says:
23 October 2012

hi deb, t-mobile offers unlimited internet. (not really unlimited they have a fair usage policy) however when u exceed that they tell u and block ur internet for u, but they silll allow u to use internet and email etc only thing they block is watching videos on youtube ntill next month.

another thing just answering the article frm patrick. u said who could possibly use 3gb on mobile phone. i dont know how but my wife lat month used 3.5gb on her vodaphobne phone. she had unlimited or 2 months and she used so much watchin movies everyday and downloading apps, thats nice
i also use about gb every month with this tmobile like i said hey usually block my phone to watch videoswhen i exceed 1gb but im still able to use and i tether it to my pc and nice. always watch things and do loads.
so answering ur question. people o use more than 3gb and i need and would love it.

punk says:
9 December 2012

i tried giffgaff so called unlimited internet, worked fine for 2weeks, but i was using a lot so now they slowing me down i cant even check emails. You probably working there if you say you watching a lot youtube videos and you are fine.

Hello Punk,

How long have You been with GiffGaff.Co.Uk ?.

Have You been buying 30 day goody bags that offer unlimited internet/data/gps packages?.

I’ve been with GiffGaff.Co.Uk for 2 years now, In that time I have recruited My Boyfriend, My Mum, My Mum’s Boyfriend, & 1 Which.Co.Uk Member, Plus many strangers through My personal GiffGaff.Co.Uk website referral page,

During in this time, I have been able to access My Yahoo.Co.Uk, GoogleMail.Com, E-Mail Accounts, YouTube.Com Account & Videos, Twitter, FaceBook.Com, & More,

I can access all of the above easily on My HTC EVO 3D Smartphone Mobile ,Without any trouble & Nor am I employed by GiffGaff.Co.Uk, Nor those I’ve got to join, & Most of the time they seem able to cover accessing website’s on there smartphone mobile’s without trouble 🙂

Maybe report the problem to GiffGaff.Co.Uk online, Or to the CEO of GiffGaff.Co.Uk , O2, & Telefonica 🙂

i just found out – there is NO SIGNAL in welsh valleys for data.
they confessed endly.
when i lived in cardiff i had some sort of data signal, but last week i moved to valleys and 02 apparently doesn’t have data signal here at all. that is really unprofessional.
I am glad that my main contract is Orange, which works with T-Mobile network as well and data always perfect everywhere. I had giffgaff as a spare for this month as we moving and another s**t company SKY cant provide internet straight away(as we all know!).
I wont be sticking to it, as without data its useless.
be careful before ordering! check your area first on 02 coverage!

bmxbandit523 says:
23 August 2014

Looks like Giffgaff have stopped unlimited internet, got my email saying that the £12 deal is now limited to 3g and there’s a £15 unlimited but you had to sign up by 21/08/2014 I got my email about this on the 23/08/2014 …..sneaky and going down hill sadly

There are a lot more people using large amounts of data these days, which is why companies have cut back on packages offering unlimited data. What’s wrong with paying for what you use?

If they are changing your allowance mid-contract then that is wrong.

And of course anyone who uses facebook on their mobile isn’t helped by facebook automating setting the default to play any video that appears on your wall. People will chew up their allocation very rapidly. It’s almost like the phone companies asked facebook to do this.

DanielM says:
23 August 2014

It’s nothing to do with how many GB people use at all. networks do not have GB limits. the only limits they have is network capacity and transit etc. am guessing most o2 towers use microwave (so 80Mb/156Mb) per tower. which is not alot.

the affect is when people use it for tethering and constant streaming etc.

So essentially

someone using 100GB a month could be less of a problem than someone using 20GB a month. that 20GB could be using alot of streaming etc during peak time

Most people will use tethering and streaming mainly during the day. You might find a service that offers unlimited data at off-peak times. My home broadband/phone package does, though I don’t take advantage of it.

DanielM says:
23 August 2014

Whatever the case articles need to be corrected. and people need to understand what is causing these problems. and its nothing to do with how many GB someone uses.

peter green says:
5 January 2015

What do you meanno one could possibly need unlimited unless they were up to no good? It’s a f*****g stupid ridiculous thing to say. Oh porn, you mean? Sorry but its more a case of something wrong with you if you are a man that doesn’t watch or download porn. I dont really think that but it just annoys me all these geniuses online saying “drop unlimited, no one needs it.” Just because the geniuses lack the common sense to see the blindly obvious; that many peoples entire internet use can be through their mobile phone provider, and people not wasting money on broadband at home on pc as well.

Then you have iPlayer, itv player etc, YouTube and all the other video sites. Football and sporting, gaming, social media, online gaming and watching films online in bed etc because it beats doing it sitting down.

I can easily use 2 gig a day without realising it.

If I want to download a lot of games to my phones sd card that means some games like walking dead being over 1 gig.

And unlimited has to mean unlimited, I can’t stand the kind of people who just take opposite views to whatever is said, like they think it shows anything about them that is positive in anyway? “But but unlimited doesn’t have to mean unlimited because I’m a f*****g idiot that sticks up for garbage ripoff companies like Orange…”