Mike Beversluis

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nothing costs as much as it used to

Verizon's CTO has broached the idea of eliminating flat-rate data plans in the future and replacing them with a pay per byte approach. Most people seem to think this is worrisome.  Not me, as I've done so wherever possible already, and would like more of it ASAP.

I happily ditched a flat-rate mobile phone plan for a T-mobile prepaid plan because I use so relatively few minutes on my mobile phone - I use OneSuite for long-distance calls - that it's much more cost effective to pay $100 once a year than to pay that same amount every two months for "unlimited" calls. I supposed there are people for whom this calculus does not apply, but that's the whole point - I'm not interested in subsidizing their use.  Frankly, I think with a little restraint or accommodation, even that person can find a very cheap prepaid plan, or use VOIP, etc, etc, which is a better deal than the unlimited calling plan.

This somewhat assumes that these networks are fungible;  T-mobile's service reception is okay - it's not as good as Verizon, but better than AT&T.  YMMV, but 8$/month is a very low minimum payment.  Plus, in some sort of luddite fashion, I feel proud that my phone is so basic.  It's just a very cheap, reliable way to talk to anyone from any semi-urban place in the US.

On the other hand, and perhaps hypocritically regarding my basic-phone stance, I also have a broadband Mifi card with a 5GB plan.  My thought was that if I'm going to surf the web in random spots, I'd like to use a 15" screen with a full-sized keyboard.  Overall, it's pretty sweet - a little slower than DSL, but not too bad.  It's connected via one of the ubiquitous 5GB for $60/month data plans.  I haven't gotten anywhere near that 5GB data use limit, with my heaviest month clocking in at around 1GB or so, but then it's also only being used as a supplemental internet access point.  Right now, I think the available mobile broadband pay-per-byte rates are too high to making switching to them effective, but since mobile broadband is rapidly expanding and is, within cities, a commodity, I get the feeling that in 10 years 1GB/month will cost $8 too.  In the shorter term, I very much think that Verizon's introduction of data rates will erode the cost per byte, as it seems to have for prepaid long distance.

This is all based on my being a lightweight user of mobile services, not unlike moving the longer phone calls to a very cheap long-distance provider and watching internet TV shows etc over a cheap DSL connection.  So, on the other other hand, if you want to bittorent via 4G, well, yeah, I think you're going to get a big bill.  Seems fair to me.

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1 Comments:

  • Hi Mike,

    I agree with your reasoning. I am also not a fan of unlimited use because I think I'll end up paying.

    I have a T-mobile prepaid so it means I can limit my calls and just pay for the actual minutes I use. I also have Onesuite VoIP and its prepaid too. I don't like VoIP with monthly plans too and I'm happy with pay as you go service like Onesuite.com.

    By Anonymous ZXT, at 13 January, 2010 01:31  

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