Telefónica Deutschland jumps on unlimited data bandwagon

O2 store in Germany Image: All rights reserved

Telefónica Deutschland has become the latest mobile network operator (MNO) to launch mobile plans including unlimited data allowances with a new tariff portfolio called O2 Free.

Unlimited data has recently been making waves on the other side of the Atlantic after T-Mobile US and Sprint both launched plans; in Europe, this tactic has largely been limited to challengers such as the Three Group.

As of Oct. 5, Telefónica Deutschland will start to aggressively market plans that promise unlimited browsing, streaming and chatting anytime and anywhere even after consumption of high-speed data.

However, the Germany-based MNO will throttle data speeds down to 1 Mbps once 4G allowances have been used up. The O2 Free plans start at €24.99 ($28) a month with 4G packages ranging from 1 GB to 8 GB. Existing customers with O2 Blue plans will also be able to add the O2 Free option for an extra €5 a month.

The throttling of speeds with unlimited plans is a tactic that has been previously used and abandoned by MNOs in Europe -- although at least here O2 Germany is being upfront about what it is doing rather than hiding it in the small print. The MNO is also prudently focusing on the benefits of such plans for users.

Speeds of 1 Mbps are certainly better than some: previous unlimited plans have often throttled data speeds down to below GPRS levels. However, most subscribers are unlikely to be too impressed with what they can really do at 1 Mbps.

A Telefónica Deutschland spokesperson said the MNO ran a wide range of customer surveys to find out what its customers need in their daily mobile life.

“The outcome: our customers want access over bandwidth, that is, to continue to check their emails, surf the Internet, use messaging services, stream music or videos even beyond their 4G allowance. With O2 Free, we are able to offer just that. Because the majority of these applications are possible with a speed of up to 1 Mbps, many of them need even lower speed. Applications that need more (LTE) speed are for example streaming in HD, internet TV and online gaming,” the spokesperson said.

For more:
- see the O2 Germany release

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