Home Health Are the unlimited minutes that our operator offers us really unlimited?

Are the unlimited minutes that our operator offers us really unlimited?

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Are the unlimited minutes that our operator offers us really unlimited?

Between operators owning the network, virtual operators and the numerous offers currently in place, orienting oneself in the mobile telephony market is often problematic. To keep up with the competition, the main operators are betting heavily onno limits: unlimited conversation minutes, unlimited text messages and some even unlimited internet traffic. “Unlimited” is an adjective to which we are addicted, but are there really no limits?


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The exact limits of the unlimited

To define the term “unlimited” in the meaning used by telephone operators, we cannot rely on the vocabulary. For the Treccani vocabulary, in fact, what “has no limits of place, time, measure, etc. or to which exact limits have not been set” is unlimited.

For operators, the limits are there and are almost always set exactly. We find ourselves outside the canonical interpretation of the adjective according to the Italian language and within a commercial meaning.


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WindTre mentions verbatim to article 6 of the Conditions relating to services updated in December 2021 that certain rules apply to plans, options or promotions that include unlimited voice and sms or mms traffic: at most 160 minutes a day (200 sms / mms) and no later than 1250 minutes per month (2000 sms / mms). These limits, described in clause 6.1.2 of the conditions, also contain further restrictions. Traffic to other operators cannot exceed 60% of daily or monthly traffic and, in any case, 40% of total traffic cannot be directed to a single competing operator. Unlimited data traffic is also subject to limitations. The monthly data exchange is considered abnormal if it exceeds at least 5 times the average consumption of customers with similar offers and cannot be higher, for three consecutive months, to the volume of the average monthly traffic of customers with comparable offers. We are therefore confronted with a limit that is not entirely clear and this falls within the canons of the “unlimited” meaning given by the Treccani vocabulary for which, as mentioned, everything that has no well-defined limits is unlimited.

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Who leaves the parametersand it should be emphasized that WindTre announces that it does not use algorithms to control data traffic or abnormal voice, it can be investigated by the operator and the service can be suspended or, alternatively, it can be offered another tariff plan from which you can withdraw immediately and without penalties.

Vodafone follows completely similar rules, as reported in the General Terms and Conditions, on which a date does not appear but are defined as “version 4/2022” and are the most recent available: the term “unlimited”, for the item, coincides with a limit equal to 160 minutes a day o 1250 minutes per month. To whom exits the parameters the operator can impose an offer more suited to his needs, from which he can withdraw free of charge.


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Tim has several levels of limitations. As regards the 5G Power Unlimited offer, the monthly minutes deemed acceptable are 18.000 (600 minutes, i.e. 10 hours a day), as many as text messages. Internet traffic, according to intended use, as intended by Tim, is actually limited to 600 Gb monthly. It is therefore a data traffic of 20 Gb per daya quantity that is even difficult to consume but, once again, not unlimited.

Other offers include a ceiling of 10,000 minutes per month (just over 5 hours per day). Some of Tim’s many offers don’t clearly specify a conversation minute threshold. In the event that i limits imposed for the voice and for the data were crossedthe operator reserves the right to offer the consumer another tariff plan and, as regards data, also the possibility of limiting the browsing speed.

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Iliad does not set measurable limits but claims, in article 7 of the General Contract Conditions, the right to be able to suspend and terminate the contract if an “anomalous or disproportionate level of traffic is found in relation to the habits, characteristics or nature of the user “, Without however specifying how this anomalous use can be quantified.


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The reasons for the limitations

Operators tend to make offers for individuals and corporate customers. Excessive voice or data traffic may suggest that a telephony contract designed for private individuals is instead used for professional purposes by call centers, for Telemarketing activities or surveys. From the point of view of the tariff policies of each individual operator, this distinction appears to be sensible, although not sufficient for the use of the adjective “unlimited”. Likewise, 160 minutes of voice communication per day (two hours and forty minutes) seem to be able to satisfy the needs of even talkers. The same cannot be said of the monthly limit of 1250 minutes which corresponds to just over 40 minutes per day. However, it should be specified that no operator is so taxing customers should be penalized as soon as they exceed the imposed thresholds: first there is an in-depth phase aimed at preventing offers intended for the consumer market from being used by the business one.

The position of the guarantor and clarity

The Authority for Communications Guarantees (Agcom) does not raise objections to the understanding that operators have of the adjective “unlimited”, but specifies that the limits imposed are clearly illustrated to the consumer. Agcom itself is vigilant regarding the sudden rescheduling of offers by operators.

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Operators and offers

Mobile operators can be divided into two groups. There are operators who are licensed for the radio spectrum and own the network, ie the infrastructure necessary for the operation of telephony. In jargon they are called Mobile Network Operator (MNO).

In Italy there are four, namely Tim, Vodafone, WindTre and Iliad. The latter, under certain conditions, relies on the WindTre infrastructure. There are also virtual operators, i.e. those who rely on other people’s networks, also called Virtual Mobile Network Operators (MVNOs), and they are 25.

Another 24, despite having appeared on the market, are no longer active. These too supported the mobile networks of Tim, Vodafone, Wind and Tre (which at the time were still two separate operators), while Iliad had not yet entered the Italian panorama.

Each operator offers different mobile phone packages, designed to meet the expectations of each market segment. Before choosing the one that is right for us, it is worth taking the time to read the contractual conditions reported on the websites of each individual operator and, if in doubt, ask for information from the respective call centers.

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