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​Don't expect unmetered mobile video any time soon: Vodafone

'Never' might be a bit of a stretch, but Vodafone says we shouldn't expect unmetered video streaming on our morning commute in the near term.

Dave and Les Jacobs/Corbis

While home broadband providers have been falling over themselves to offer unmetered streaming deals to win customers, mobile phone users have always been left behind. Sure, you can get unlimited Netflix when you're at home without worrying about your data cap, but what happens when you're out and about (when data limits bite just that little bit harder)?

You're probably going to have to wait even longer to get unlimited video streaming on your smartphone, with Vodafone ruling the idea out in the near future.

Since video streaming services really hit the scene in 2015, Australians have developed a taste for streaming their favourite TV shows straight to their mobile devices, and not just their lounge room TV. But while monthly streaming subscriptions offer all-you-can-eat viewing, streaming that much content comes with the data usage costs to match -- unless that content comes 'unmetered' by your home or mobile broadband provider.

While Vodafone has partnerships with the likes of Spotify and Stan, offering free subscriptions to these streaming services bundled in with a monthly contract, Vodafone customers still have to pay for data they use when accessing these services.

According to Vodafone Chief Technology Officer Benoit Hanssen, that's not going to change any time soon.

"Firstly I don't think that the way the mobile market and mobile technology is structured is suitable for unmetered usage, because you're using a media -- so, spectrum -- that is in short supply," he said. "In order to get a fair distribution of the capacity of the network...I don't think that unmetered would work for large consumers like video."

While it raises questions about net neutrality (the concept that all data should be treated equally across a telecommunications network) unmetered streaming has certainly proven to be a drawcard for consumers. When Netflix launched in Australia, for example, both iiNet and Optus quickly announced deals to give customers Netflix content without eating into their monthly data cap. Telstra also has a similar deal with Presto for fixed line broadband customers.

Unmetered streaming is slowly creeping into the mobile space, most notably with Optus' recent partnership with Cricket Australia to offer unmetered streaming of summer Cricket to customers. But Hanssen says that, outside these "small-scale" niche cases or situations where providers can "keep control over the volumes," video streaming without the data bill is just not feasible.

"Video is extremely demanding," he said. "'Never' is a long time, but I don't expect it in the near term."