Spark says fixed wireless broadband customers in parts of the country will no longer have to contend with data caps. The change applies to customers on the UnPlan Metro plan. There will be no extra cost.
It’s a clever move on Spark’s part. And it’s one that plays on popular misconceptions about data usage. To understand why, you need extra context.
Previously Spark fixed wireless broadband customers on the UnPlan Metro plan were restricted to 600GB of data a month.
This sounds paltry when the majority of fibre broadband customers have unlimited downloads. It also leaves customers feeling uneasy that they may bust their caps and get caught with extra charges or have their connections slowed down.
Will anyone notice when data caps go?
In practice, few if any Spark customers will notice any changes.
That’s because 600GB is more than any normal fixed wireless broadband customer can get through in a month.
Let’s look at the numbers in the recent Chorus annual report. The wholesale fibre company reports that an average household on its network chewed through 313GB of data in a month in June 2020. That’s a lot more than the 265GB households were using a year earlier.
Fibre customers on the Chorus network averaged 387GB of data in June.
Both these numbers are a long way behind the soon to be abandoned 600GB data cap on Sparks fixed wireless broadband network.
You could argue that averages don’t mean much. That there are households who get through far more than the average.
This is true. But the number of fibre customers who go past 600Gb in a month will be a small minority.
A faster pipe
Another thing to consider is that fibre is much faster than fixed wireless broadband. Those high-usage fibre customers, the ones who skirt or go past 600GB a month will have plans that are faster than 100Mbps. Many will be on gigabit plans.
Few fixed wireless broadband customers will get more than 50Mbps. Many will get less.
Which means fibre is between two and 20 times the speed. Or, in other words, you can download much more data in an hour. Faster broadband means more data goes down the pipe every hour that you are online.
Given this, it’s unlikely many of Spark’s fixed wireless broadband customers get close to 600GB in a month. In turn, this means going from 600GB to uncapped doesn’t change much for the overwhelming majority of fixed wireless customers.
Which is not to say the switch from capped to uncapped is not welcome. It will remove the nagging fear that a household might go over the cap and face repercussions. That’s a positive.