Smile Telecom has figured out a confusing way of introducing ‘all you can eat’ internet bundles with its brand-new unlimited data plan and at the same time keep its users in the shadows of what is happening behind the scenes. This blog has received several complaints from heavy internet users who have jumped onto the bandwagon of using Smile Telecom’s Unlimited Premium Bundle that’s claimed to offer uncapped data speeds for a full month at 6 mbps and at a fixed price of UGX 330,000 ($100).

 

Several users who’ve tried Smile’s Premium Unlimited bundle, have reported that the carrier throttles user’s speeds down to 100 kbps once they reach the 200 GB threshold. Case in point, a one Daniel Omega posted on our page expressing his dismay in regard to Smile’s service as embedded below. One may wonder what one would be doing to “gallop” over 200 GB in less than a month or a week, but that’s a different story altogether.

So do carriers in Uganda understand the meaning of Unlimited? Apparently not, at this point it appears that Smile is operating with a definition of “unlimited” that is only tangentially related to reality. Advertising one thing, and actually delivering another to its clientele. This is actually not new, as carriers in Uganda have played these cat and mouse games with their subscribers, by guzzling all their precious data away while hiding behind the shield of the Friendly User Policies (FuP) or Acceptable User Policies (AUP). They use these policies guard them against any backlash from their subscribers. So one might start thinking whether people who rushed to subscribe to Smile’s “dreamy” Unlimited Internet ever read the FuP, and what it says. It states that;

“Smile needs to ensure that all of its Customers, as members of the Smile Community, have fair and equal use of the services. It also has the right to protect the integrity of its network. Smile therefore reserves the right to take reasonable steps to prevent improper or excessive usage of the network. Smile may amongst other things, limit throughput, and prevent or limit service through specific ports or communication protocols.” So without specifying limits or anything Smile reserved the right to do whatever they want when you “abuse” usage, and apparently some avid internet users have cracked the threshold before you can get throttled, and it is 200 GB.

The hope of true unlimited data bundles goes down the drain

Sources in the know have informed this blog that about 10% of the premium data subscribers were abusing the service guzzling over 1 TB (1,000 GB) per week, and this was affecting other users in selected areas. So the Carrier decided to introduced a new unlimited fair usage policy for Premium users as shown below. This officially makes the premium bundle much like any other carrier’s unlimited bundle removing the competitive advantage that Smile Telecom had over other networks like Vodafone who’ve similar unlimited bundles.

Data usage                                           Data speed
0.1MB <40GB                                      Up to 6Mbps
>40GB <200GB                                   Up to 4Mbps
>200GB                                               Up to 2Mbps

The hope of true unlimited data bundles has officially gone down the drain, and one wonders who is to blame? Is it the users who “abuse it”, the telecom companies or the technologies used?

This means carriers who were considering introducing unlimited and un-throttled (uncapped) data plans might have to think twice as heavy internet users will definitely take advantage of such offers. We get to learn a simple valuable lesson from all this; to the telecoms, and future players in Uganda’s ISP sector, Ugandans are willing to pay any premium just to enjoy unlimited internet, and so far, wireless technologies like 4G and 3G cannot cut it since it’s a shared best effort service. For more about the true meaning of unlimited internet and how it works, check out our previous articles here.

Are you still using Smile’s Premium Unlimited data? Have you been capped before? Leave us a comment below.

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