The word 'unlimited' has been so widely abused in the telecoms industry few consumers trust it any more. In the UK the Advertising Standards Authority's ruling that 'fair use' restrictions could apply to tariffs advertised as 'unlimited' has resulted in some offering as little as 250MB of data per month... an amount easily consumed in days. [caption id="attachment_1075" align="aligncenter" width="438" caption="This is the banner advert for 'truly unlimited Internet' on T-Mobile UK's website today"][/caption]
Today - considering jumping networks to get T-Mobile's excellent Blackberry roaming deal - I was confronted with a new banner...
Truly unlimited internet[1. Was this an admission their previous 'unlimited' tariffs weren't though...?]. Wow! At last!
I checked the small print... Initially it looks reasonable - no tethering, but no fair-use policy - but continues...
You can't ... use internet on your phone for:
- peer-to-peer file sharing; or
- making internet phone calls.
So definitely not unlimited.
This is misleading for two reasons:
Technically: The 'Internet' is not 'web browsing'... it's network-level access to a global network. Communications between servers and clients (like web servers and browsers) operate across this network. To restrict types of traffic is not 'unlimited'.
Consumer Understanding: How can 'truly unlimited internet' limit 'internet phone calls', which (via Skype) are now a common use for domestic internet connections. Also, how can a customer know - for sure - what type of file sharing technology an application uses? 'Peer to peer' is no longer synonymous with use for piracy and is an efficient way to distribute some media - both Spotify and BBC iPlayer use it in some instances.
T-Mobile will probably argue these clauses are only intended to prevent unreasonable use spoiling other customers' experience, but (whilst a reasonable aim) this approach leaves it to T-Mobile to determine what is 'reasonable' - something they've attempted to re-define in the past (apparently) for their own benefit. The result is further damage to confidence in mobile operators' honesty.
If Three can do it (actually do it - without any caveats) why can't T-Mobile?