Flat rate data plans drive consumer behaviour and the mobile internet goes mainstream

 In mobile broadband

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that flat rate data plans DO drive consumer behaviour.  For some time I have been on a Vodafone UK business plan, that gives me a gazillion minutes, free landline calls in the UK BUT only 20MB of data included with a £15/month add-on plan.  This severe limitation made me vary careful about what I use my handset for.  After a month’s worth of push emails, and a bit of browsing (text only option on Opera mobile – no pictures), I was coming close to the 20MB limit each month. 

This forced me to use a pre-paid SIM subscription on Vodafone for serious web browsing Google Maps usage and mobile application testing – but even with a pre-paid allowance of 15MB per day for £1, it still was not enough.

Recently I took out a pre-paid data subscription on the 3 network – this allows you 1GB of data for just £10 per month.  Bad news for Vodafone though is that I substituted my mobile data provider with a competitor because I wasn’t getting value for money for handset mobile internet.  As a footnote, I do have a data card and subscription from Vodafone, and I pay £15 for 3GB of data for my laptop – a much better deal but this is a data only plan and has no voice services.

On July 2nd, Vodafone finally revamped their business plans, with a new range of plans under the Vodafone Total Business banner.  Now I can take advantage of their “unlimited” (read 500MB fair usage) add-on for just £7.50/month – a much better deal.

This change of approach to data pricing has now meant that I am not afraid of bill shock when using my handset for mobile browsing, email, Google maps etc.

I’ll still keep the three 1GB/month pre-paid SIM active – in my 2nd test phone as it also has a generous allowance that I don’t need to worry about my usage any more.  On the Vodafone pre-paid SIM, if I use more than 1MB/day, I’ll be charged £1 – so effectively this is £30/month if I use it daily, compared to just £10/month for the 3 card.

So Vodafone keep me on one SIM card (on contract – with a higher ARPU so they will be happy about this), BUT they lose me on a pre-paid account.

The picture at the top of the post shows some recent outdoor advertising for Vodafone – promoting their unlimited plans by using Facebook mobile as an example.  This ad I saw in Putney on the weekend, and I saw several others, making me think this is part of a broad mobile internet campaign from big red.

When facebook ads appear from Vodafone in suburban London, you know the mobile internet is going mainstream.


Based in London, The Actionable Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and comementator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.