February 2017
Fighting with unlimited plans


Mobile Internet has changed so many things in our society and our habits in a very short period of time. In recent years, the availability of services has increased exponentially, and the form has been changed several times. After working for more than 3.5 years on projects for fraud management and revenue assurance management of VimpelCom and having the experience developing controls related to the GPRS service, I was curious to make a small retrospective and analyze the changes in the services. I make no claims about the completeness of the study - this is just a reflection of my own experience and information obtained from public sources. There will be a glance on behalf of ordinary users, not legal persons - they have their own specifics.

Decent wired Internet appeared quite a long time ago and bring to the common people the idea that the Internet is convenient and very accessible. For a modest sum, which has not changed almost since the first payment, I get an unlimited access. Speed grew rapidly and their growth had lost all meaning for me long ago - I simply do not need such a great speed. But it is not so smooth with the mobile Internet. 

Let's denote what looks to me like a good internet and what requirements it must meet:

Good speed any time to talk on Skype, preferably with video, or work on remote desktop.
Not pay for megabytes - but pay fixed, preferably a reasonable amount of money. I.e. have unlimited internet access.
For all devices, at least for mobile ones.

At the start, there were problems with the speed and attempts to use the browser in your phone were irritating. But technology has moved up, covering has improved and, in my subjective opinion, this problem can be considered solved technologically - there has been provided a comfortable speed [in many parts of Moscow]. There is no intrigue.

How not to pay per megabyte?

The next problem - originally we paid for the traffic per MBs. A pay per megabyte approach seems to me like madness since the appearance of unlimited offers from wired Internet providers. Especially if you look at the cost of a megabyte and a size of one episode of your favorite series. Not surprisingly that there were not so many active users of these services, and, therefore, they could not bring a lot of profits for the operator. We needed new subscribers who would thankfully give the money to the service provider.

Demand stimulates supply and operators began to appear with services with the traffic packages. But they are not so helpful because the possibility to have restricted access to the Internet keeps me, for example, from the free use of it, because the Internet will not available at the time I will need it. I would like to have an unlimited access. The package plans, in my opinion, is a half-measure, although, of course, the boom conditions of mobile Internet usage had begun with them.

The emergence of 4G has become a marketing locomotive. Along with advertising of insane speeds, all operators came with offers for services with even larger packages for the even more attractive price. And, most importantly, an unlimited offers appeared. The very same Beeline had the action and common tariffs with completely unlimited Internet access for a relatively little price (590 rubles/month). But the miracle did not happen. The sensation of unlimited tariffs quickly passed. The reason is simple. According to statistics found in the spaces of the Internet, 1 % of subscribers accounted for 50 % of the traffic. And this means that the 1 % of subscribers poisoning the use of Internet for the rest of 99 %, overloading the network. 

Despite the increase in network bandwidth growth, the needs of users grow faster. So it simply is not profitable for operators to just cancel the restrictions on traffic - it's too expensive to invest in infrastructure to ensure maximum speed for all the "leeches". The number of unlimited offers greatly reduced, there has been added an item "With an increased load on the network internet access speed can be limited" to the description of unlimited service. A little closer look reveals limitation on speed or on the traffic or the amount of traffic in the daytime.

I've already bought the Internet access once!

The next challenge for the mobile operator is "there are a lot of devices, but I am one". I want to have network access on each of the devices and I want to pay only once. My desire is understandable, but it bears the risk of reduced income for the operator. However, the competition is doing its job and operators are forced to offer some solutions: there are services such as "All in One" from Beeline or "United Internet" from MTS and Megafon. 
The point is simple - traffic can be shared with multiple devices. It is convenient, but there are a few unpleasant features for the user - unlimited package can not be distributed to all devices without restriction - it is a direct loss for the operator.
There is a similar story with wi-fi distribution - the limitations are imposed on tariffs for the phones: unlimited access can not be distributed and SIM cards can not be inserted in modems and routers.

The development of GPRS services is fast and the fight for the customer and for profit can be traced in it, and this struggle is not always in favor of customers. Initially, I even wanted to write in the conclusion that there was nothing suitable for me, as I would write about it a few years ago. But during the preparation of this article, I found a number of interesting options and my opinion has changed - there are unlimited offers with the restriction on p2p protocols. Because I'm not interested in these protocols for my phone, I will look at these offers.

Have a good internet!

Author: Sergey Bulatitsky