We're making progress.

Last year, Spark, 2degrees and Vodafone launched "unlimited" mobile data plans that had so many qualifiers that they caught the attention of the Commerce Commission (this morning, a spokesman for the regulator said its investigation is "ongoing.")

All throttled speed after you used a certain amount of data, and none would allow hotspotting or tethering (sharing a phone's internet connection with other devices) - a really useful feature, especially for travellers.

Vodafone also restricted video streaming to your "unlimited" mobile to standard definition (480p), at a time when most streaming video services - including Netflix, which is offered free with some Vodafone plans, offer high definition (HD) or even ultra high definition (aka 4K).


2degrees' new unlimited plan offers hotspotting and tethering as standard (as opposed to some of the extra-cost options that have crept in).

And while it will still choke your speed, it will only do so after 40GB of data has been downloaded (the previous cap was 22GB). 40GB sounds like a lot - and it is if you're just web surfing and emailing. But bear in mind that Netflix HD video will chew through 3GB of data per hour, and Netflix 4K video more than 7GB per hour.

Once you do hit 40GB, then your speed is throttled to a crummy 1 megabit/s until your next bill (or only enough for grainy video; ordinarily you should be able to get 40Mbit/s or faster if you've got a good 4G mobile connection).

And 2degrees adds: "Hotspotting speeds may be reduced further during periods of network congestion." (Wait, did I say "progress?")

Group pricing

2degrees says if you can rope in a group of four people, then you can get its new "unlimited" plan for as little as $40 a month. If you're solo, it costs $85/month.

Spark is offering its unlimited data for as little as $30/month on a group plan, though 2degrees argues that because is rival charges $99.99 for the first person, it's an average of $47.49 per month per person overall.

By comparison, 2degrees pricing is $85 for the first person and $25 for every additional person – so average of $40 per month, per person

If you've got a company or are part of an organisation, it's always worth pushing for a better price than what a telco lists on its website - even if you're mid-contract. Take advantge of the competition.


Somewhere, over the rainbow

We'll get to true unlimited mobile one day, but that day could well be after Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees upgrade their mobile networks to 5G, with all the extra mobile network capacity that will it provide.

5G upgrades should start next year, but it expect it to be restricted to a handful of CBDs at first. It'll take a couple of years for coverage to broaden nationwide.