The Cost of Data

MAYBE just POSSIBLY if enough people brought this issue to the attention of the carriers and FCC maybe this thing will get legs and the results will be the same as what happened when David Pogue NY Times blog brought to everyone’s attention regarding charges for the providers waiting 5 seconds to allow voice mail recording and for the cell phone companies charging for inadvertently hitting the download data key/button…

From Molly Wood’s blog on CNET where she brings to the table issues regarding AT&T’s new data plan

Between multiple cell phones, high-speed Internet connections, and even digital TV subscriptions, most households are now paying for data delivery at least three times over, and frequently paying the same provider twice. This is ridiculous, and it’s time for some major consolidation. It’s time for a universal data plan. I want to pay once (maybe twice) for data, I want that data to be unlimited, and I want to be able to use it in any fashion I choose.

Think about it. Let’s say you have a Verizon smartphone, and you pay $30 a month for an unlimited data plan. Let’s say you have a family plan–you’re still required to pay for unlimited data plans on any data-using phones on that plan, too. Just that concept is insane if you break it down: You’re paying multiple times for “unlimited” data? Isn’t that like multiplying by zero? Either way, you lose.

Imagine if your ISP made you pay for a “data plan” on every computer you own. Imagine if the ISP also made you pay a separate monthly fee for, say, attaching a wireless router to your network. Or an Xbox. Or a TiVo. “Data” on a smartphone, an iPad, a Netbook, a Kindle, or any other future always-connected device is simply another word for “a network connection.” And it’s time that network connection stopped being tied to the device and started being tied to an individual or an account.

Like it or not, wireless is the future of bandwidth, and telecom carriers are becoming de facto ISPs. They know this, their networks are smaller, and they’re hoping to avoid the traffic-shaping pickle ISPs say they’re in by rolling out metered usage from the get-go. AT&T certainly isn’t alone in trying to drop unlimited plans; Verizon has also said it plans to charge for data by usage.

Carriers need to keep beefing up those networks and start rolling out universal data plans that are device-agnostic, include either unlimited data or realistic caps that encompass our growing data needs, and that charge you one time for network access, period. That’s how we get to a true wireless broadband future–one where there’s no such thing as a “data plan,” there’s just a network, and we’re all on it.

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