Sunday, February 13, 2011

Smart's "Unlimited" Data Plan


Smart Communications started offering their Smart Gold Data Plan months four months ago. The plans combine unlimited data services with voice and SMS usage in one plan.


Billing issues. At the outset, despite the plan being a "unlimited" data plan, users have been billed for additional data charges under the standard rate of Php10 for 30 minutes for other postpaid and pre-paid plans. I myself have had the same problem, and the solution of many seems to be to seek a bill reversal. I have ask for a clarification of the "permitted" uses two weeks ago but to date have not yet received a definite response. Customer Service Representatives at the SMART Wireless Centers are unable to clarify the billing issues, and are awaiting the response from the head office. So at the present time, it is hard to determine how "unlimited" in terms of data this plan is. With that caveat, we will give our review of the service. 

Mobile phone date plan. One of the biggest objections to this plan is the 1.5GB data limit per month, after which Smart can slow down your connection. Granted 1.5GB per month is not a lot for a regular internet connection and another thing that should be stressed, using this plan as a modem for a laptop is not permitted. If that is what you need look elsewhere. But the 1.5GB  is more than enough for a smartphone data connection. 

In their review of the HTC Desire Z, techie.com.ph stated  "it’s an utter waste investing on a smartphone above P25,000 if you don’t subscribe to a data plan to maximize its features." In this review we want to examine this proposition.

Three years ago, internet on the mobile phone revolved around the web browser and voice over internet protocol (VOIP). The plans available offering time based internet access in 15 or 30 minute blocks were designed around this paradigm. If your purpose in availing of a data plan is internet surfing using a web browser or VOIP over Skype, you are better off with a time based plan. Watching a low resolution (360p) video on YouTube can consume over 5MB's in 1 minute. Making video calls over Skype result in large amounts of data consumption. For that type of use, your 1.5GB allocation can be consumed in just a few hours.

In addition, mobile internet services are dependent on many factors, but the main one is location. 3G data is transmitted using Near Line of Sight Technology. A tree or wall could seriously degrade the connection speed which could result in a lot of waiting heavy data use simply not feasible on a mobile internet connection. 

Today, internet on the mobile phone revolved no longer revolved around the web browser. Dedicated applications for accessing email, social networking sites, news, weather and other information can allow you to obtain the same information you would using a web browser at a fraction of the data usage. Data retrieval can also be automated so that it can be ready for you when you decide to look at it, and not have to retrieve the data on demand. 

Basically, it is a good plan which makes a smartphone a smartphone. But until the billing issues are resolved, it is really just one big head-ache. 


March 2011 update. Thanks to the help of Smart Communications Customer Service and Technical the problem of additional billing appears to be limited to using two applications: (1) the Opera Mini Browser and (2) Microsoft Active Sync based email clients. The Opera Mini browser is not the default browser on any modern smartphone, though it is useful since it reduces data usage. But I can live without it. On Android phones, the Microsoft Active Sync based email client is just the secondary email client so not being able to use it is not a deal breaker. Other than these two applications, I have been able to use all other Android applications without any problems. 


April 2011 update. For the most part every is fine. For the second month I got charged Php20 for 30 minute web browsing charges, and Php45 for the third month for web browsing (Php30) and video streaming (Php15). The amount is to small for we to bother complaining about. Am pretty sure the charges this month came from the YouTube application and widget. I do not use this one my phone, but it was updated last month so I tried out what the new app looked like. I am not sure if I did this on 3G or WiFi, but I have no other video streaming apps on my phone.


Best advice, if you get this plan and do not want to incur additional data charges do not use (1) the Opera Mini Browser, (2) Microsoft Active Sync based email clients and (3) YouTube or any other video streaming clients. I am still trying to get a clarification, especially since Smart banner does have the YouTube icon prominently displayed.        

26 comments:

  1. true my friend. just use the crappy default browser of our N8 then its unlimited heaven. :)

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  2. I was advised not to use Opera Mini in the meantime. Matter is still being clarified. I am on an Android by the way.

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  3. This is really a great plan and I will definitely look forward to it..I was wondering to know any further services in the package?

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  4. I just got my Tab on the unlimited data plan, and went crazy just logging on and off on a whim using the facebook, twiiter, news app and the samsung mail app. After two days straight of internet on demand, I started to get really worried about extra charges when I knew that I paid for something that was supposed to give me that luxury.

    I've yet to recieve my bill, hopefuly there arent any hidden charges. I check my mail more than I text or call, so this is really important to me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As far as I know The issues with billing have been resolved three billing cycles ago. If you encounter issues, please post them here.

    You can also sign up for Smart Connect and check you running balance. If you are on data Plan 2000, ans incur a running balance of about Php800-Php900, that means no additional billings, more or less.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. 1.5 GB a month? So I can't even play a youtube video at 720p once a day for 30 days? That's too low by today's standards. Sigh....

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  7. I was about to get smart gold plan since I like to get the sensation xe free on plan 2000. but after reading the data plan form... i was dismayed to see the 1.5gb cap. Its far cry from my current usage on Sun Cellular Data Plan 999. which I could use more than 1.5gb per week. though I got called that I qualify for smart I would not be pursuing it anymore. luckily I applied for plan 1799 unli-surf(Iphone 4s plan), which I'll be waiting for a couple of days. I check their prices and its much cheaper than I expected. I am now researching if there is a data limit on globe.

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  8. I am okay with the CAP, since I really just intend to use it as a smartphone plan and not as a primary internet connection or for downloading. The CAP also gives Smart a way to prevent network congestion if needed (as far as I know they do not implement the CAP yet).

    If you want to tether to a laptop, better go with a Globe Data Plan.

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  9. Does smart has prepaid data plans?

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  10. Yes, both time and volume based data plans.

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  11. badtrip tong unlimited data plan na to! nakakairita. hindi naman pala talaga unli!

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  12. i am subscribed to the unli data plan 2000 with a samsung n7000, for 3 weeks my bill is now on 60php. i use wifi at home and work and mobile internet when commuting, got any ideas in which apps? programs? settings? this came from? and no i dont watch you tube on 3g/hsdpa connections.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, I do not understand the question.

      Delete
  13. i need your expert advice guys.. im planning to get this plan next month is the 200 txt is enough? :( i also heard that it has additional charges when using an app or what.. that will make your monthly bill blow.. i need your help guys for im just new in postpaid thing i need a guidance for i not to mess up.., does the smart allow the use of wifi connectivity instead of using their unli data? thank you your help would really means alot..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get additional charges of Php10 to Php30 a month, which I cannot directly connect to app usage. I use most my apps daily. 200 SMS is not enough, but additional SMS only cost P0.50 per SMS at this plan.

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  14. I have iPhone Plan 999, with free 250GB of internet usage.
    Funny thing is they still charge me P10 for every 30min browsing even I didn't consume much of the 250GB free allotted for my internet usage. My smart SIM actually is not being used by my iPhone unit, but instead it was used by my GPS Tracker which connect to internet from time to time (every 2 hours) which ate very small amount of data traffic (15MB max data/month). Called and emailed SMART customer care last month but no reply yet given. Hay..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you Twitter, try asking @SMARTCares. They are very helpful.

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  15. Can you tell me the data cap of the UNLIMITED DATA PLAN 2000 on smart?

    Crap, there was always an excess bill every month, more likely 300 and 500+
    So every month I pay 2,500
    What the heck....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi. Could you give them breakdown products description of the excess charges. Might be able to give you tips on how to avoid them.

      Delete
  16. i have an iphone4s 32gb w/ data plan 2000.
    does the plan only provide 200sms/150minscall? if i consumed the 200/150, will i have to pay excess?
    also, what's the data cap of my plan?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. if i consumed the 200/150, will i have to pay excess? - YES

      what's the data cap of my plan? - 1.5 GB after which speed slows down. I am not sure this is actually implemented. I have not gone beyond 1GB in a month for the 19 months I have been on this plan.

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    2. I can confirm that the data connection slows down after you reach the 1.5GB cap. Using the Speedtest app (from speedtest.net) testing within the cap would average 6Mbps (downlink) whilst after the cap it would be in the 512kbps to 1Mbps (downlink). It's not actually that bad but it will get your nerves if you notice it but then use wi-fi whenever possible.

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    3. Thanks. That is very useful information.

      Delete
  17. Hi,i am subscribed to unli data plan 2000. When i checked my bill via sms, it says current balance 0.00, previous balance 0.00, running balance 431.02, credit limit 8000. What is runnning balance? Is this an additional charge? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I posted an answer to your question here:

      http://mobileraptor.blogspot.com/2012/12/running-balance-in-smart-unlimited-data.html

      Regards.

      Delete
  18. Hi, what will happen if I exceed my monthly credit limit before the next billing cycle? Will I be charged for additional usage? I am subscribed to Smart iPhone plan 2499. My credit limit is 11000 and my running balance is 150000 :(((

    ReplyDelete

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