22 January 2008

Data is the New Long Distance

I just finished a two year Verizon Wireless contract. They frantically called me, informed me my contract was up, and walked me through a month-to-month agreement. The only change was that their "Mobile Web" feature went from $5/monthly to free. Free! Sweet! Then I listened to the big long details where the customer service rep informed me they didn't debit my airtime minutes for the usage. Charges now run $1.99/megabyte for Mobile Web usage unless you spend $15+ monthly on an all-you-can-eat option.

That straw, the allure of SIM cards, and the fact that Verizon has the lousiest, P.O.S. software on their phones (contact me if you're interested in a rant) made me switch to at&t yesterday. I paid attention to at&t's data charges— either $15+ monthly for a smörgåsbord or $0.01/kilobyte. Similarly crazy in price.

An example of the sheer monstrosity of it all:

  • Assume you didn't pay the $180+ annually these companies want for unlimited data plans
  • Assume you bought a 2 gigabyte microSD card for your phone.
  • Assume you filled up your microSD card
All of these seem reasonable. After all, you're already paying hundred of dollars annually to be able to use the phone you've purchased. For 2 gigabytes/2,048 megabytes/2,097,152 kilobytes of a la carte data:
  • Verizon would charge you $4,075.52 to fill a 2 gigabyte microSD card at $1.99/megabyte.
  • at&t would charge you $20,971.52 to fill a 2 gigabyte microSD card at $0.01/kilobyte.

The wireless carriers may rationalize this ridiculousness by saying that they can better forecast data network needs when customers buy unlimited plans. But then again, how much forecasting information do you get on "unlimited" plans?

Monthly a la carte data plan pricing should cap out at the monthly unlimited plan rate. After using $15 bucks of a la carte data in one month, just bump me to unlimited already. Say that up front. Don't be shady. Sheesh.

1 comment:

Erik said...

Or should cap out at least twice the price or something. Thats why I always liked Sprint's fair and flexible plan which caps out at the next higher level than what you paid for...

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