Is unlimited data on certain apps a game changer? uSwitch reckons not, especially for older users

Gadgets, Smartphones
Are new services like Voxi which promise unlimited data on certain apps the way forward?

Only one in five (19%) mobile users would switch to a contract with unlimited data usage on certain apps, according to research from price comparison and switching service

It found that mobile customers are far more likely to change provider for mobile ‘staples’ such as cheaper deals (61%), better network coverage (30%), more flexible deals (23%) and better customer service (20%) than for unlimited data.

This is despite nearly eight in ten (79%) adults using on-demand technologies – like BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime and Netflix – to watch their favourite programmes. 

For older mobile users, the prospect of infinite data usage for certain apps was even less popular, with only one in ten (11%) picking it as a reason to switch provider. Conversely, a quarter (26%) of 18-34 year olds thought it would be a compelling reason to switch.

This is mirrored by the fact that only 19% of over-65s use a subscription streaming service, compared to three quarters (76%) of 16-24 year olds.

Mobile providers are increasingly looking towards unlimited data perks on certain apps to win over new customers. In the last twelve months, providers such as Three and Virgin have tapped into the boom in on-the-go streaming and messaging to offer unlimited data usage on apps like Netflix, Twitter, WhatsApp and Deezer.

More recently yesterday Vodafone announced the launch of VOXI, allowing users to use certain social and chat apps without eating into their allowance.

However, while prescribed data usage for certain apps might not be the biggest driver for switching network, according to’s recently published whitepaper ‘Shifting sectors and the growth of SIMO’, data allowance was found to be the most important factor for consumers when considering a new deal – outside of overall monthly cost.

Says Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at

“Mobile providers are understandably keen to innovate in order to attract new customers. The boom in unlimited data for certain apps and streaming services is a response to this, and buys into how we now watch our favourite programmes, listen to music and stay in touch with loved ones.

“While these packages will be spot on for a large number of a mobile users – in particular younger users – they can feel a little restrictive. For the older demographic that might not necessarily want to stream content on-the-go or who don’t use messenger apps, there will likely be little in this new provider battleground that stands out.

“This is especially highlighted in the arrival of VOXI, Vodafone’s new service pitched at under-25s, which also allows you to use certain apps without eating into your allowance.

“It’s important that providers continue to keep an eye on the basics. Data allowance is undoubtedly vital for mobile consumers, but so too is consistent reception and customer service. Innovation in one area should not come at the cost of others.”


Chris Price
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