Data limits, what’s all the fuss about?

For my day job, I work for a UK network, and over the last few months have been on the receiving end of customers frustrations over data limits, but is it really that big a deal? 

We introduced our data caps when the iPhone 4 launched, although the actual restriction didn’t take effect until October 2010.  I didn’t completely agree with this at the time, and our internal briefings included statistics the stated 97% of our total customers base used approximately 200mb of data per month, but that the 3% that used more were responsible for 40% of the data usage on our network, staggering statistics I’m sure you will agree.

So we launched the iPhone 4 and immediately had customers stating that they couldn’t possibly survive on 500mb, so as the weeks went by and we checked more and more iPhone usage stats, it became clear that the amount of data we think we use and data we actually use are vastly different.

I was listening to one of my regular podcasts a few days ago and one of the presenters, who is a self confessed geek, obviously, and is constantly switching phones and checking data connections, and syncing all his data between several different devices was surprised to learn that he had a 500mb limit on his account that the didn’t even know about.  The man in question would certainly be in the power user group, and has been able to comfortably cope with just 500mb.

So 10 months down the line and most of the other networks have followed suit, and not just in the UK, so maybe that justifies the decision, but data restriction will always cause controversy, regardless of the statistics