Buying mobile data: Unlimited but slower internet package or faster internet on data bundles

By now you probably already figured out that there is no true unlimited broadband internet. Everyone has their own way of ripping you off. I mean we all remember the glory days when Safaricom would offer you truly unlimited internet for a whole week for just Ksh.1000 but we all remember how that went. There is no such thing as unlimited internet. Everyone has their own caveats attached to their ‘Unlimited’ offering. When Safaricom scrapped off the offer, they sited the fact that with the offer, subscribers were abusing the usage. This led to a large chunk of the available bandwidth going to only a few users who would take advantage of that and download Gigabytes upon Gigabytes of data throughout the week.

After that a few other bundles cropped up, touting to be unlimited. They, however, had a fair usage policy under which, after exceeding a gives threshold, user speeds would be capped at a predetermined speed for the remaining subscription period. Telkom Kenya’s XL bundles and Airtel’s UnlimiNet bundles are examples of such.

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Which Bundle should you purchase?

So you can either purchase an Unlimited bundle that has a speed limit or you can go for the traditional bundles. We have extablished that. But which one is ideal for your needs? Short answer, it depends on your usage and needs. What do you do when you are online?

Social Media

For most people, we Google a few things here and there, visit a few web pages, catch up with your favorite blog, scroll your social media feeds, repeat the cycle at least a hundred times a day and that’s it! For this lot, you might be better off getting yourself the fixed high-speed bundles. You may also need to practice restraint. The 50 times you scroll facebook throughout the day has to come down. However, there are Unlimited bundles tailor-made for these folks. For instance, Airtel’s UnlimiNet offers full speed on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter.

Video Streaming

For others, it is a little more demanding. You stream YouTube videos like no one’s business. You play online games all the time. Before we go far, let’s make it clear, you have no business trying to get any bundle. Look for a Home internet solution. You need Unlimited internet. However, if you are the type to stream YouTube, irrespective of what quality you are watching, maybe the capped unlimited could be your cup of tea. See, most fair usage speeds are capped at 128kbps. Some can be a little generous and cap it at a more reasonable 512kbps or 256kbps. With these speeds, you can stream YouTube at 144p or 240p if you can put up with the potato video quality.

Music Streaming

Music streaming has long been thought to be a practice for the west. However, the tides are changing and services like MixCloud, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Deezer are quickly gaining popularity.  These apps gobble up data and are best used on Wi-Fi. However, look at the sweet spot for streaming bitrate and music that won’t sound like garbage, and your speed cap and you quickly realize you can do it. Find a carrier that caps its Unlimited internet at 256kbps and you can comfortably stream 196kbps or even high-quality 256kbps, albeit with a lot of buffering. This is probably the only thing you can comfortably do with the capped speeds.

Heavy downloads like System Updates, TV shows, App updates and streaming HD videos are tasks best relegated to when you are on WiFi. Until such a time that mobile internet becomes really affordable or they introduce true unlimited data plans, stick to these and you will be fine.

What data plan do you use? How is it serving you needs? Tell us below.