Over the past month, major operators have abandoned new connections to unlimited mobile tariffs, Kommersant found. Such tariffs were transferred to the archives of MTS, Yota, Tele2. VimpelCom has excluded unlimited corporate tariffs. MegaFon refused unlimited intranet calls. By the summer, operators will limit the use of mobile Internet and archival tariffs, as recommended by the Ministry of Finance, experts say.
Kommersant has found that over the past month, many mobile operators have changed their tariff plans by abandoning unlimited mobile Internet. On March 1, Tele2 restarted the “Premium” tariff, which previously included unlimited mobile Internet – now it is limited to 60 GB. Yota (controlled by MegaFon) updated its smartphone tariffs on March 24, completely abandoning unlimited internet. MegaFon itself restarted the line “Without overpayments” on March 15. Now online calls in Russia consume a package of minutes, while previously they were free and unlimited. In addition, non-tariff options for applications such as the Spotify streaming service are disappearing from carrier packages.
In a letter to telecom operators dated March 28, the Ministry of Finance recommended “excluding unlimited consumption” in order to balance the traffic consumed by subscribers, RBC reported. The distribution of a uniform load on the network is necessary for their sustainable operation, the ministry said. The RSPP Communications and IT Commission warned that failures could begin in the summer due to restrictions on equipment supplies (see Kommersant, March 28).
Scartel (the Yota brand) explained to Kommersant that it had analyzed traffic and found that most subscribers spend no more than 30 GB a month. But if the customer connects to Yota before March 24, unlimited internet will remain on his tariff. Tele2 believes that unlimited is a niche product in demand by a small part of the audience, but admits: “With excessive distribution, they create a load on the network.”
VimpelCom told Kommersant that it had updated the line for corporate clients, leaving no unlimited tariffs for new connections: “According to our calculations, the measures taken are sufficient to ensure the necessary network capacity and maintain the quality of service.” MTS has stated that it does not plan to abandon unlimited archival tariffs, but does not intend to launch them in new plans. MegaFon declined to comment.
According to Mobile Research Group analyst Eldar Murtazin, up to 17% of subscribers, including corporate ones, use unlimited tariffs: “Currently, there is no unlimited tariff available for connection – they are all archived, and by June operators will limit them.” Some unlimited users have already switched to package tariffs with a large amount of traffic – up to 50 GB, and given that about 85% of subscribers use about 20-25 GB per month, these offers more than cover the needs, says the analyst.
Telecom Daily CEO Denis Kuskov noted that last year the volume of traffic transmitted on mobile networks has grown by 31%, and now operators do not have the opportunity to increase capacity due to uncertainty with the supply of equipment. Operators began to abandon unlimited in 2021, now the process is coming to an end, and the “blessing” of the Ministry of Culture will only accelerate it, the analyst said. Traffic in the networks of operators began to grow in the pandemic, and over the past month the load on the network has increased even more, says Eldar Murtazin: “This was facilitated by numerous DDoS attacks and the fact that users are trying to save data from cloud storage companies leaving Russia.”
A Kommersant source in one of the operators clarified that it was not just a matter of loading the network itself. This year, he explained, revenues from international roaming services will fall from operators’ revenues, but calls in Russia will increase as Russians spend most of their holidays within the country: “Therefore, operators can limit and reduce unlimited options for calls within the network.”