Aldi cut its mobile data allowance, but does it actually matter?

2.5GB of monthly data is enough for the average user

MVNO Aldi Mobile has cut the data allowance on its unlimited plan by 50%, taking it down to 2.5GB from 5GB.

Working on Telstra's 3G network, Aldi Mobile's unlimited plan gives customers unlimited calls, SMS, voicemail and, now, 2.5GB of data.

Aldi Mobile's biggest competitor remains Amaysim, which has been on the market for longer, runs on Optus' 3G network and offers an unlimited plan for $39.90 for 30 days, giving you unlimited calls and SMS, but with 4GB of data.

It is certainly important to question Aldi's decision to drop its data allowance by half without touching its $35 price tag – but that is another argument for another day.

After all, TPG cut its data allowance by 75%, from 1GB to 250MB, which is a lot lower and a lot more alarming than what Aldi Mobile is now offering.

With the closure of Kogan Mobile, as well as PennyTel, Woolworths and Red Bull Mobile over the last few months, this change has again brought to light the fragility of the MVNO market.

Data costs

Coming into the market in March 2013, Aldi Mobile was able to survive the debacle between Telstra and ISPOne a few months back.

Aldi has said that the changes to its unlimited plan were due to prepaid data costs.

"With market-wide increases in the cost of prepaid data, this change has been made to ensure the Aldi Mobile service remains affordable for our customers," it said in a statement.

Previously, Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow said to TechRadar: "I know the cost of the [data] network… You can't stay in business if you can't recover the cost of what the network is."

We could perhaps draw our eyes to the fact that Kogan had lowered its data allowances too as it started to have trouble with ISPOne.

We could then suggest that lowering its data allowance could be the beginning of the end for Aldi Mobile, which went into a new deal with Telstra when ISPOne went into voluntary administration.

But it all may not be so damning. It may just be the market realigning itself.

How much do you data?

Increasingly, telcos and MVNOs are offering more talk and SMS allowances for less, with plan and price differences hinging on data allowances.

Vodafone's Morrow has said that with a progressively "data-centric" environment, there "is a fundamentally different market place for MVNOs" – and we agree.

Aldi Mobile has attributed the latest changes to research showing that users were not using that much data anyway.

"Our research shows the majority of Aldi Mobile customers use less than 1GB of data monthly and as such, the reduction in data allowance should have minimal impact on our existing customers," Aldi Mobile said in a statement.

If this is the case, then lowering data allowances should not sound an alarm bell – especially considering all of its other options remain untouched and the allowance has not dropped below 2GB.

Data the deciding factor

If the plan allows the majority of users to continue receiving an unlimited calls and SMS option with enough data, then it really is only the super-power-hungry user that will be affected.

It should be noted that Aldi Mobile only works on Telstra's 3G network, not offering the super speeds of 4G – and presumably, the super-data-hungry user would be looking toward a faster data service anyway.

2.5GB is really enough to browse the internet, be on logged on Facebook and be uploading to Instagram, as well as check your map to get to places, without exceeding your limit.

You could even FaceTime or Skype every now and then (estimated to be about 3-5MB per minute) and only then worry about your 2.5GB limit - though with 3G, it's probably best to do this on a Wi-Fi connection anyway.

We can't imagine how much music or video you'd want to stream on a 3G connection, either.

So if unlimited calls and SMS with a reasonable amount of data is what you want, then Aldi Mobile's unlimited offering is still a good deal on Telstra's 3G network.

TPG's 250MB still worries us, however.