We have been down this road before, talking about what unlimited mobile internet really is, why we are getting a raw deal from our mobile carriers and how the principles of net neutrality would work in a country like Uganda. Imagine our very own telecom regulator Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) penalizing some of these mobile network that have misleading unlimited data plans and false advertisements. Case in point, last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans to fine America’s second biggest network  AT&T over $100 million (UGX 329,500,000,000) for misleading subscribers about unlimited data plans. Fining mobile carriers wouldn’t be a new thing in Uganda, in March UCC fined MTN over UGX 5 billion for using unauthorized short codes, an issue which was finally arbitrated upon by the stakeholders involved.

Why give me 512kbps speeds on a 4G -LTE or a 3G 42 Mbps capable network and call it unlimited?

The American network was slowing the speeds of unlimited data plan users when their Friendly User Policy (FUP) cap. Africell, Smart Telecom , UTL and Vodafone Uganda are the carriers that have so far come out to advertise their unlimited mobile data offers at different price tiers. Where as we are grateful to have unlimited data packages, you will find that unlimited data customers who used more than a certain amount of gigabytes of data experience a drop in speed to just 512 kbps for the rest of the month when the cap expires. Other carriers will just give you 512 kbps unlimited internet and call it a day. Seriously, why give me 512 kbps speeds on a 4G -LTE or a 3G 42 Mbps capable network and call it unlimited? I guess by definition of unlimited data the carriers would be right, but also give me reasonable speeds to match.

Ugandan mobile networks tend to be fully transparent with their customers

The practice of data throttling is apparently a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers, and has been used by all network for years. Ugandan mobile networks tend to be fully transparent with their customers, providing notice in multiple ways especially on their websites and sales brochures. Perhaps it’s why you see big operators like Airtel and MTN Uganda have not yet announced unlimited mobile data packages over their 3G networks in order to manage their huge volumes of data customers.

The conjectural question we ask now is, how much are you willing to pay for real unlimited data if there were no speed caps or if the carriers gave reasonable speeds above 1 mbps ? Personally, I use over 50GB a month on an unlimited package that costs about UGX 200,000 and I always dread that time of the month when my speeds have to be throttled to 512 kbps in the name of friendly user policies. In my opinion, I think UGX 250,000 would be good enough price for unlimited internet at speeds above 3mbps.  So, how much are you willing to pay for real unlimited internet, feel free to leave a comment below on what you think.

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