Expectations for Unlimited in a Modern Age

Submitted by roypoi on

The only real highlights from the presentation that garnered positive head nods were the technologies that might make unlimited plans more workable - 1) content filtering - block torrent traffic, 2) intelligent caching of video, software updates, and popular content, 3) traffic optimization, and 4) rate limiting. With the possible exception of #1, these would be good practices for any operator. Torrents in a usage based model could drive higher revenues, but users who generally use torrents tend to be lower income users or are not the primary subscribers who pay for the service (students or children).

At that time of the presentation I worked for a minority incumbent operator that had technological and knowledge/skill hurdles that acted as a barrier to implementing usage based plans. To further the unfortunate-ness of the situation, my employer was also not a monopoly. The way forward for my employer should have been to leverage the underutilized capacity of their new fiber network to up-sell business customers, where demand was high, in order to derive enough revenues to subsidize residential and wireless unlimited usage at limited speeds, while also implementing the previously mentioned technological solutions for improving subscriber experience and managing IP input costs more efficiently. Again, unfortunately, these last and final recommendations were ignored. The results were predictable... and predicted.

At the same time that I was giving the presentation I was also promoting internally the idea of moving away from unlimited services to metered services, countering the retention of the unlimited services by offering "right sized" plans that would encourage users to ration their usage while providing the buyer with a better user experience in exchange for their purchase. Unlimited services were predictably slower, suffered congestion related outages, and other service quality issues. Metered usage would have to be prioritized over the unlimited traffic as a premium level service in order to compete with the unlimited service, and in a price sensitive market - usage based packages can be sized accordingly to offer metered access at lower enough prices to induce buyers.