When was the last time you checked how many SMS messages you send or how many minutes of talk time you used over 30 days?
Most likely, you do not bother looking at such stats because data is what you use the most. There is a thing called unlimited data which makes a lot of sense when it comes to our day-to-day usage patterns. So, why is it called an unlimited data only plan and not something else?
Why Data Only?
The title or name of these packages is a bit misleading. If you are getting an add-on to a base plan or a base plan that is data-only, you still get some talk time and some SMS traffic. The amount you get is very limited but you do get some of it. Even if you run out of talk time or SMS traffic, you can still receive incoming calls and texts. You may not be able to perform outbound calls or send SMS texts once your allowance limit is reached.
Getting back to the main question as to why it is called unlimited data only plan and more specifically why data only, it is because you get more data than with a base plan. Operators notice a decline in usage of talk time and SMS traffic while data traffic consumption spiked. For this reason, investments were made into the network to allow for faster data transfer rates and higher capacity. As we require more data, it makes sense that operators would offer data-only plans. At the same time, it is much cheaper to get a data-only plan rather than a plan that has loads of data, voice, and SMS traffic since you are not going to use most of them.
Over the past couple of years, the amount of mobile internet traffic generated by consumers doubled. This is in part because half of all mobile subscribers watch videos online and use social media platforms. Only a quarter play games and about 40% shop online using their smartphones. The use of online services over a smartphone increased significantly in the past couple of years. Statistically, the average subscriber in Singapore will use anywhere between 15 GB and 50 GB of data. Heavy users will go well beyond 50 GB of data per month.
For mobile operators, it does not make much sense to have 10 or more data-only plans. Most of them have a few base plans with data traffic included. For heavy users that do not want to settle for 15, 20, or 50 GB, the unlimited plan was added. The reason why it is called an unlimited data plan is because data traffic usage is no longer metered. Some operators offer a pseudo unlimited data plan which consists of a very large amount of data included. Something on the lines of 100 GB. Once that threshold is reached, data transfer rates are limited or reduced. Usually, the average mobile internet speed is 44 Mbps on 4G networks. It can be reduced to a quarter of that after a certain threshold but you still have unlimited mobile internet traffic.