Swiss operator Sunrise is extending its unlimited mobile offer to prepaid customers, offering unlimited communications for 24 hours for CHF 2.50 (US $2.57). This includes unlimited calls, SMS and MMS in Switzerland, as well as unlimited data at up to 300 Mbps. The 24-hour period starts whenever the user initiates the first call, text or data connection. Sunrise said the offer will work well for tourists and other customers who may not use their phone everyday.
Sunrise also introduced new mobile broadband offers for users of laptops, tablets or mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, replacing its previous Take Away Freedom subscriptions. All three new plans come with unlimited data, while the price varies according to speed, at CHF 9.00 (US $9.25) per month for up to 2 Mbps, CHF 19.00 (US $19.52) for up to 10 Mbps and CHF 49.00 (US $50.34) for the maximum 300 Mbps plus 1 GB of roaming data in its Region 1, which includes Europe, the United States and Canada. No minimum contract is required with the plans, and customers with a Freedom or Home subscription receive a 10 percent discount. In addition to a mobile hotspot from CHF 1.00 (US $1.03), Sunrise also offers a SIM for CHF 9.00 (US $9.25) per month that allows customers to use their smartphone plan on another device.
With these offers, Sunrise is responding to increased consumer demand for both flexibility and generous data. Unlimited offers have traditionally been aimed at higher-end postpaid customers. Offering unlimited calls and data not only to prepaid customers but on an ultra-short-term, essentially pay-as-you-go basis is unusual, and appears to address the needs of a niche demographic—tourists and travelers who will not need the service long-term or even every day during their trip, but who will use their smartphones heavily when they do use them. As an alternative to international roaming charges (for users from outside the EU, of course, after the end of such surcharges there in June), Sunrise’s offer seems like a very good one, with the daily price low enough not to be a deterrent to use.
Sunrise also extends the unlimited concept to long-term plans, at least as far as data is concerned, and again with flexibility in mind, as embodied in the no-contract provision and in the SIM offer allowing the plan features to be accessible from another device.
Since unlimited data offers are a gamble for operators, there is an incentive to hedge them in some way. In this case, we wonder whether the strategy of differentiating the plan levels by data speed is a sound one. The trend in the worldwide mobile marketplace is toward ever-greater speed, and consumers increasingly use apps and services (such as streaming entertainment content) that demand very high data speeds. Therefore, lower prices contingent on lower speeds may not be particularly appealing to the targeted users—even if those speeds are adequate for most purposes.