Let’s say you had a monthly gasoline plan for your car. Each month you could pay $80 for 20 gallons of fuel, and if you go over 20 gallons in a month you’ll be charged severe penalties for each gallon you need after that. At the end of each month, the gas remaining in you car is removed (even though you’ve already paid for it), and you start each new month zeroed out.
We wouldn’t be happy about an oil company zeroing out our gas tank each month after paying for a quantity of fuel.
Why aren’t we angrier about cell carriers wiping our slate clean each month?
I recently spent four days in NYC with little to no access to WiFi, and I’m in the middle of a long term review of the Droid RAZR MAXX on Verizon. I took it as an opportunity to see how I would fare with a data cap using the Droid EXACTLY the same way that I use my Epic on Sprint (which still provides unlimited data plans).
I handle a LOT of audio files over email and DropBox, and I like taking and storing pictures of my day-to-day activities. I’m also routinely tied into the social stuff, and am constantly updating Twitter and G+. All in all, I wouldn’t say I’m a “Power User,” but I’m certainly above average in use.
What was the tally?
According to the VZW Data Usage app I logged 468MB over my four day trip, a little more than 110MB a day. No laptop, no tablet, no tethering. I would’ve been on track to top 3GB over the course of a month. I maybe would’ve had a couple hundred MB’s as a buffer if I were on a 4GB per Month plan. That’s not a lot–and the plan would’ve been exhausted with one upload of a video, which I do occasionally.
That’s pretty lean.
I have to admit I don’t fully understand VZW’s new wireless plans. Near as I can tell, in the course of one year we’ve moved from $30 unlimited plans to $50 for 1GB of shared data.
For one smartphone with 4GB of data (not sharing it with any other devices) will run you about $110 per month before taxes and fees. By comparison, on Sprint I have 450 minutes talk (with unlimited mobile to mobile), nights and weekends starting at 6pm, and unlimited data for $60. I could add a mobile hotspot plan for $50 a month for all my wifi enabled devices with 6GB of shared data, and come in at the same price as VZW.
As customers, we’ve accepted that we’re not paying for tiers of bandwidth or more expensive rates for faster speeds (like most cable/dsl companies); instead we pay for a quantity of data that we download and upload (yes folks, your uploads count against your cap as well). Data is a thing, a substance, a measurable mass of stuff.
And each month, your leftovers disappear.
Cingular started (and AT&T continued) cell phone plans where your minutes rollover as a buffer. It was a great goodwill token. It’s time for cell companies to start examining the same for data. Our devices are getting more powerful. Our infrastructures, services, and apps are becoming more data intensive. The plans carriers offer are becoming more confusing and more expensive.
If I pay for something, I want to use it. All of it.