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Are Unlimited Data Plans Truly Unlimited?

In the strictest sense, yes. But check the fine prints.

· 2 min read

In the age of constant connectivity and burgeoning data usage, unlimited data plans for travel eSIMs or tourist SIMs have become increasingly popular among travelers. After all, if you are traveling, you probably don't want to have to constantly worry about how much data you have used and how much you have left. However, the question lingers: Is unlimited data truly unlimited, or does the fine print tell a different story?


Do Unlimited data plans really give you unlimited data?

At first glance, unlimited data plans appear to offer an unrestricted flow of data for users to stream, download, and browse without worrying about reaching any data caps.

In the strictest sense of whether unlimited data plans are truly unlimited, they usually are, in the sense that there isn't actually a hard cap to the volume of data you can use.

But the truth is, while there isn't actually a cap to the volume of data that you can use, these unlimited data plans usually include fair usage policies. The fair usage policies are usually in the form of speed throttling after a certain usage is reached — and while you technically will still be able to connect to the internet using the data, the speeds could be so slow that it heavily impacts your entire experience.

Fair Use Policies and Data Throttling

Most providers that offer unlimited data plans will usually have the fair use policies indicated in their fine prints. This would usually indicate the volume of high-speed data you would be allocated, and the speed at which data would be throttled to once you hit that cap.

These policies allow service providers to manage network congestion by prioritizing the data speed of users who have not exceeded a specified usage threshold. In practice, this can result in a diminished online experience for those who consume large amounts of data regularly.

Before hopping on to an 'Unlimited Data' plan, be sure to check the fine prints. One of the most important things that you should consider before getting the plan is whether the amount of high speed data allocated is sufficient for your typical usage.

Nomad's Day Plans: Choose Your High-Speed Data Allocation

To give our users more transparency and control over their data plans, Nomad has restructured our 'unlimited plans' into 'day plans'.

With Nomad's day plans, we give you the option to determine what goes into the fine print. Where possible, we give you the option to choose how much high-speed data you get per day.

When building your day plan, simply choose the number of days you need your plan for and the amount of high speed data you need per day.

Your high speed data allowance will reset everyday for the duration of your plan. And after you have used up your allocated high-speed data, you will still be able to use the internet at a throttled speed of 512 kbps.

Prices for the plans vary depending on how much high-speed data you need per day and the duration of your plan.

Nomad's day plans are currently available in various destinations, including Canada, United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Japan and more.

So, how much high speed data is enough for me per day?

How much data you need really largely depends on your online activities. For an average traveler, 1GB of data per day is a comfortable allowance.

As a rough guide, 1GB of data would let you do one of the following:

  • Watch a 1 hour Youtube video at Standard Definition, or 36 minutes Youtube video at 1080p
  • Watch 70 minutes of Tik Tok
  • Watch 50 minutes of Reels
  • Video stream 33 minutes on Youtube or Netflix in HD
  • Stream roughly 8 hours of high quality music (320kbps)
  • Send or receive about 1000 emails
  • Send over 1.5 million WhatsApp messages (without pictures or video)
  • Video call on Zoom or Google Meet for 2 hours
  • Use Google Maps for 24 hours