While most smartphone users either receive a fixed amount of data per month or purchase a set data bundle, there are uncapped mobile data bundles available in South Africa.
Prepaid uncapped data bundles are almost exclusive to MTN and Telkom, and include fair usage policies – with download speeds limited after the limit is reached.
To see how this works in real life, we put MTN’s One Day Uncapped data bundle to the test.
The One Day Uncapped bundle is priced at R40 and provides unlimited mobile data usage for 24 hours.
MTN’s Terms and Conditions state that the fair usage policy for the bundle is 150MB. Once this limit is reached, speeds are throttled to 128kbps.
After ensuring our MTN SIM was devoid of all airtime and data, we purchased the One Day Uncapped bundle.
Users are required to manually activate it by dialling *141*5#, selecting Manage Bundles, and then the option to activate the One Day Uncapped bundle.
MTN then sends an SMS confirming the bundle is active.
For our test we used a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the My Data Manager app to track data usage. It was then time to milk the bundle, which we did for just over 12 hours on a weekday.
The test started well, with us hitting a download speed of 47.44Mbps and an upload speed of 22.99Mbps out of the blocks.
We then opened an hour-long 1080p YouTube video which the mobile data connection devoured and the My Data Manager app showing fast-rising usage.
We expected to be throttled at 150MB, due to the bundle’s fair usage policy, but were surprised to see the data connection maintaining fast speeds past this usage point.
A speed test conducted after 150MB of data was used measured 45.03Mbps down and 24.09Mbps up.
We then continued to stream high-quality YouTube videos to see at what point the fair usage policy would kick in.
The speed of the connection remained high until we hit 462MB – three-times the stated fair use policy.
The mobile connection then slowed dramatically and MTN sent through an SMS stating the connection speed would be restricted.
The speed of the connection was then throttled as expected, with tests recording a download speed of 0.15Mbps and upload speed of 0.04Mbps.
The mobile data connection was still active and we could still consume media, however, and we initiated a 6-hour YouTube video and 1GB file download simultaneously on the S7 Edge to see how much data we could use before the end of the day.
The download and stream were extremely slow, but we managed to bring the total data usage from the uncapped bundle to 1.57GB. This was from 09:00 to after 22:00 that day.
At 1.57GB, we used over 10-times MTN’s fair usage limit.
The graph below shows the data usage per hour according to the My Data Manager app.