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It took Spark two days to respond to 2degrees’ all-you-can-eat mobile plan. That’s agile for a large company. There was a time when it would take months to get a counter offer like Freedom Mobile out the door.

From Easter Spark and Skinny customers can buy plans with unlimited voice and texting as well as uncapped data. Spark’s Freedom Mobile plan costs $130 a month. The Skinny Direct Freedom Mobile is $120.1

As with 2degrees, Spark only allows a single phone to use the data. Users are told they can’t tether or operate a Wi-Fi hotspot. And like 2degrees, Spark says the plan is offered on a test basis and only to a limited number of customers.

Questions and answers

Spark Home Mobile and Business CEO Jason Paris says; “We’ve seen 2degrees’ new ‘unlimited’ plan – and while we like the intent, we believe it leaves customers with as many questions as answers.”

The big question for most users considering a plan is what does 2degrees mean when it says there is a fair use limit.

Spark attempts to answer this for its customers by bringing back traffic shaping, also known as throttling. That is, it delivers the first 22GB of data in a month as normal. Once a customer goes over that amount, the download speed drops.

This used to be a common practice with broadband accounts. It provides users with enough incentive to self-monitor their use, without imposing horrific consequences should they over-indulge.

The Freedom Mobile New Zealand model

Paris says he thinks this is the right model for New Zealand.

Well, up to a point. Unlimited mobile data plans are common overseas. They often have restrictions. The restrictions in New Zealand are tougher than elsewhere. In other markets carriers allow customers more. In the US 10GB of tethering is normal.

It makes sense to impose some limits on an ‘unlimited’ plan. Wireless bandwidth is a finite resource. If carriers allow unrestricted use, wireless networks would quickly become congested and performance would drop.

There are still questions. Most of all, how far will Spark go with the throttling? Will download speeds drop to half their normal level or right back to a crawl?

The other question is where is Vodafone in this game?


  1. The $10 price gap between the two brands’ plans is interesting. In effect Spark users get Spotify, Lightbox and a daily 1GB of Wi-Fi hotspot downloads for $10. This tells you the real premium Spark puts on those services. ↩︎

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