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  (Source: SkeptiSys)
Datapocalypse may be almost upon us

AT&T raised a ruckus early last month when it announced tiered, capped data plans, doing away with "unlimited" data for its smart phone users.  Now Verizon is rumored to soon to be following in suit.

Verizon already offers tiered capped data plans for its 3G PC wireless internet cards ($39.99, 250 MB a month; $59.99, 5 GB a month).  However, its smart phone users currently enjoy a single "unlimited" data allowances capped at a relatively high 5 GB.

Reuters began the rumors early last month when it cited analysts as saying that Verizon was likely to ditch the unlimited option and switch to a tiered pricing scheme.  Now Engadget is claiming that this prediction was correct and that its sources say that a tiered pricing scheme will likely land by July 29.

The report says that the pricing scheme will likely be around that offered by AT&T ($25 for 2GB, $15 for 200MB).  That would mean that Verizon users would ultimately be paying more per MB than they are currently.

Verizon has already suggested that it may adopt a tiered scheme at some point.

All indications are that T-Mobile and Sprint, though, have no intentions of following Verizon and AT&T into the world of capped connections.  Sprint is instead opting to charge users a small premium ($10) on its 4G connections -- T-Mobile may adopt that alternative approach as well.

Will customers embrace AT&T and Verizon's tiered, capped data plans?  Or will they rebel and jump to Sprint and Verizon and agree to pay a nominal fee if they want their data to be transferred at faster rates?  Only time will tell, but it should be interesting to watch for whether Verizon officially airs a tiered smart phone data scheme.


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If they do.....
By room200 on 7/21/2010 1:45:52 AM , Rating: 5
I'm so done with them.




RE: If they do.....
By jlanders646 on 7/21/2010 1:52:08 AM , Rating: 3
LOL most people even in a corp setting don't even use a gig, don't get me wrong, I'm happy about it but for 90% of us this won't even affect us.


RE: If they do.....
By StevoLincolnite on 7/21/2010 2:16:03 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I'm happy about it but for 90% of us this won't even affect us.


Might not now, but that percentage will drop over time as VOIP and IPTV become more common place.
IPTV... Well lets face it HD streaming isn't exactly going to be "Light" on a download cap.


RE: If they do.....
By Aloonatic on 7/21/10, Rating: 0
RE: If they do.....
By ajoyner777 on 7/21/2010 4:20:50 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. Why should the majority subsidize the few?


RE: If they do.....
By Exodite on 7/21/2010 4:37:53 AM , Rating: 5
Aside from the obvious problem with too-low data caps there's also the fact that it'll stifle growth of services and content in general.

Frankly, if the 'majority' doesn't use more than 250Mbyte - or 5Gbyte - then it shouldn't be a problem that a few people does.

As in, there should be no need for any data caps in the first place. Data caps would only make sense if the majority actually uses a lot of data, to the point where the system can't handle the drain.

In which case the network infrastructure needs to be improved, probably due to higher costs on data plans.

All in all I seem unable to come up with a scenario where tiered data caps make a lot of sense, other than your regularly scheduled destructive greed.


RE: If they do.....
By hughlle on 7/21/2010 5:35:08 AM , Rating: 2
well said. if it's just a bare minority that are using large amounts of data, then i doubt this bare minority are capable of effecting the entire network and such.


RE: If they do.....
By Aloonatic on 7/22/2010 4:39:02 AM , Rating: 2
What you and the above (and no doubt many here) are failing to realise is that virtually every mobile phone that you can buy in your local phone shop has a Facebook, twitter and e-mail "app" installed by default now.

When these "unlimited" plans were dreamed up a few years ago, the phone companies were trying to get people to see the benefits of the mobile internet that they had probably paid quite a lot for the license for (I know that 3G license weren't cheap in the UK at any rate) an then the iPhone came along and changed how everyone who uses a mobile phone and what they expect it to do.

So there probably aren't many people who are using a lot of data (like the 5GB that some people here seem to think is usual usage) but I still don't see what people don't understand (the abuse of the worked "unlimited aside, which we need to learn to view in the same was as we view the word "free") about the simple concept of if you use a service more than someone else, you should pay more than someone else, and that is the way that it is going now. Networks are now having to deal with data connections and downloads from a lot more phones than even a couple of years ago, and all those small downloads and even Facebook news-feed refreshes all add up.

It's not just a couple of well informed geeks with expensive phones that are using mobile internet anymore, almost everyone is now (as well as 3G dongles that you can get for your laptop and such). They are uploading photos and video on the move, and all the other stuff that probably comes in under a GB or so a month, but gets no where near 5GB, and the networks are no doubt feeling the affects of the new wave of mobile internet ready phones that are almost all that you can buy now.

Yes, we've had it good with more generous plans that have got us used to using the internet on the move, but did anyone sensibly expect that to continue? Now the companies that have paid out a lot are cashing in, well boo-hoo. This is the free market, that when it doesn't affect you, no doubt many of you say that people should shut up and pay or don't use the service. That's just the way the world works, etc. Well guess what???


RE: If they do.....
By negativeone on 7/22/2010 11:13:01 AM , Rating: 2
What YOU are failing to realize is that this is a bigger issue than you seem to be able to grasp right now.

You people supporting it are failing to realize that you're boxing yourself in. You're supporting a bad precedent.

The tech industry is going the opposite direction of this. Soon you're going to be using more bandwidth too, and then you're going to have to pay more.

The "unlimited" plan is still capped at 5GB, so what you're saying doesn't make sense. It's all a matter of degree.

According to you, you should pay per kilobyte. Want to do that? You'll be paying big bucks though, because otherwise they won't make money.

The only ways they can make money are:
1) force some people to pay more
2) get money off people who aren't using all they paid for (ie only 1 gb out of 2).

Another point you're missing is, right now you're PAYING for 5GB. To be fair, they should make a 2GB plan that's cheaper than what it is now, so you can either keep paying for 5, or move down to 2.


RE: If they do.....
By negativeone on 7/22/2010 11:59:11 AM , Rating: 2
To reiterate,

It's ok to let some people pay less for using less; it's NOT ok to make some people pay more for what you gave them before just because other people are using less.

It's like going to a buffet and upon attempting to exit being charged an additional fee for the anorexic girl from whom the place already made a big profit because she paid the same $10 (or whatever it is where you go) and ate a piece of celery.


RE: If they do.....
By danobrega on 7/21/2010 5:46:06 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Frankly, if the 'majority' doesn't use more than 250Mbyte - or 5Gbyte - then it shouldn't be a problem that a few people does.


Actually it is a big problem. Since the "air" is a shared medium if lots of people start downloading porn at the same time, users that only want to make a VOIP call or require low bandwidth but low latency and jitt are in big trouble.

There was a better solution that was using a kind of throttling system that would allow users to do short bursts of high bandwidth requests but for continuous data streams the available bandwidth would drop.

This would be achievable by a multi-tiered Leaky bucket system, for example.


RE: If they do.....
By Exodite on 7/21/2010 11:47:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Since the "air" is a shared medium if lots of people start downloading porn at the same time, users that only want to make a VOIP call or require low bandwidth but low latency and jitt are in big trouble.

While true the introduction of monthly data caps will in no way prevent that from happening, a better solution would be to offer Wifi in traditionally congested locations.

Which goes back to my original point, data caps doesn't really make sense as it won't address any of the fundamental issues brought on by insufficient bandwidth.
quote:
This would be achievable by a multi-tiered Leaky bucket system, for example.

You'd introduce a higher overhead, draining both battery life and bandwidth, and introduce significantly higher latencies just to combat unfair allocation of resources to UDP traffic under high-congestion scenarios though.

It seems counterproductive to me.


RE: If they do.....
By Wolfpup on 7/21/2010 1:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
5GB is already a ludicrously low cap. They pretended to have these amazing networks, which in reality can't really support more than tiny amounts of data at all LOL


RE: If they do.....
By Suntan on 7/21/2010 2:05:23 PM , Rating: 2
If 5GB is “ludicrously low” for you on your smartphone, you need to put that thing down for 5 minutes a month and go do something productive.

-Suntan


RE: If they do.....
By FITCamaro on 7/21/2010 3:55:40 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. With moderate usage on my Droid I'm at a little over a gigabyte.

That said I'm not really in favor of the cap. I'll have reevaluate things next time my plan is up. Main reason I keep Verizon is for the excellent coverage and that my whole family and most friends have it. Switch to another company and I'll need more minutes.


RE: If they do.....
By Suntan on 7/21/2010 4:50:36 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I think the biggest issue is that of “changing” an unlimited plan to a tiered plan for about the same money. Which is effectively offering less for the same money. Of course this doesn’t sound like a good idea to most customers.

I have no qualms with a capped data plan, but I’d rather see 2GB go for about $18 a month, seeing as the current “unlimited” is $30 a month. $25 a month for 2GB doesn’t sound like much of a reduction.

That said, the reality is that these plans have *very little* to do with what customers think is fair, and *everything* to do with what the competitor down the street is offering.

-Suntan


RE: If they do.....
By StevoLincolnite on 7/21/2010 5:19:40 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Why should everyone else have to pay into your heavier internet use? Also, what's so hard about understanding that if a lot of people want to use more, then that is going to cost more too?


No one is subsidizing anyone, the ISP's advertised "Unlimited" at a certain price point, hence that is what you should be entitled to.

Secondly... If it's a case of congestion with the backhaul and international links, then they should increase capacity, or turn on some of the dormant fiber that they have lying around.

Seriously, I'm all for bandwidth caps, provided they still keep the unlimited plans at the same price point, but introduce caps at LOWER price points so those who only use say... 1gb a month could save a bit of money.


RE: If they do.....
By Aloonatic on 7/21/2010 5:47:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'm with you on the unlimited plans advertising things, as it appears to be in the USA. I'm not sure how things are handled in the states though, but for a while now a lot of mobile phone services have been advertised as unlimited for a while with regard to text messages as well as data plans, in the UK.

For the most part, people have come to terms with the notion of it being essentially unlimited for the vast majority of people, but fair usage terms apply. This was something that we went through over here in the UK a while ago with people moaning about unlimited being limited, but when you think about it, it is a ridiculous notion that doesn't make much sense really to expect to be true, but it is still a bit naughty, and just marketing departments doing there thing.

In the end, they (were kinda forced to) make it pretty clear what the fair usage limits on "unlimited" are, and that seems to be pretty transparent, in the grand scheme of things. There are a lot of words that marketing departments get away with abusing, like "free" and such, which we all know doesn't exist really, there is always a price to be paid.


RE: If they do.....
By MrTeal on 7/21/2010 10:49:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
No one is subsidizing anyone, the ISP's advertised "Unlimited" at a certain price point, hence that is what you should be entitled to.


For the term of your contract, you are. Look at AT&T, those on unlimited plans get to keep them. They're just not offering them to anyone wanted to subscribe or switch plans. You can't reasonably expect the same plan to exist in perpetuity. If that was the case GM would be getting a letter from my lawyer about their refusal to sell me a new 1969 Judge GTO for $4000.

quote:
Secondly... If it's a case of congestion with the backhaul and international links, then they should increase capacity, or turn on some of the dormant fiber that they have lying around.


I doubt it's the backhaul links. The caps they're talking about are miniscule compared to standard internet caps. It's the over the air bandwidth that's the issue. There is a certain channel capacity that is possible, and as the number of subscribers using large amounts of bandwidth goes up it will get eaten up pretty quickly. Even with Turbo Coding schemes like they use in 3/4G, the only real solution is to buy more spectrum from an FCC auction, and that isn't cheap.

quote:
Seriously, I'm all for bandwidth caps, provided they still keep the unlimited plans at the same price point, but introduce caps at LOWER price points so those who only use say... 1gb a month could save a bit of money.


Their costs go up as more and more people start using the high-bandwidth capabilities of their smart phones. As long as they don't change rates in the middle of someone's contract, why should they be forced to keep rates stagnant?


RE: If they do.....
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 7/21/2010 6:26:49 PM , Rating: 2
You will find that bandwidth and over the air congestion over Verizon's CDMA and soon LTE networks are magnitudes lower than GSM. There exists little reason to push this on their current network and even less sense on their new LTE network. This is purely a money grab plain and simple. On AT&T's side their GSM infrastructure is wholly inadequate to support the beast that is the iPhone. Yet another reason why GSM sucks compared to newer wireless technologies.


RE: If they do.....
By SkullOne on 7/21/2010 8:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
I all for tiered pricing provided that an unlimited plan still exists and is not some outrageous price. To me I figure $40 is the highest I would pay for unlimited data.

I could easily move my wife to a lower tier, put that saved money back into my data plan for unlimited and probably still pocket an extra $5.


RE: If they do.....
By Beno on 7/21/2010 6:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
Might not now, but that percentage will drop over time as VOIP and IPTV become more common place.
IPTV... Well lets face it HD streaming isn't exactly going to be "Light" on a download cap.


i think by that time, networks will be advanced enough to handle this.


RE: If they do.....
By repatch on 7/21/10, Rating: 0
RE: If they do.....
By bubbastrangelove on 7/21/2010 11:01:38 AM , Rating: 1
Read a book?


RE: If they do.....
By vshin on 7/21/2010 10:38:31 AM , Rating: 2
Once 4G is available and facetime apps become more popular, 1 GB is going to be a drop in the bucket. If the bandwidth can support it, you will see a significant rise in usage. As more and more phones come with HQ cameras and video recorders, usage will go up. When turn-by-turn navigation becomes mature, usage will go up. When more people start jailbreaking their phones to get tethering, usage will go up. It will be easy to hit 5GB a month if the bandwidth is there. The only reason why usage is so low right now is because 3G is slow.


RE: If they do.....
By FITCamaro on 7/21/2010 4:01:18 PM , Rating: 2
Hence why AT&T only allows it on Wifi.


RE: If they do.....
By flatrock on 7/21/2010 5:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think I've used 200 MB in any month of the year I've had my Blackberry. I mostly use it for BB messaging and email. I would love to save $15 a month with these plans.

Let anyone that wants to keep the $30 a month "unlimited" data plan do so.

I highly doubt most users will pay more under the tiered approach. At least not for the next year or two. Eventually data usage on smart phones is going to go up considerably, so this is probably an example of the carriers planning ahead.

However, paying an extra $15 a month now in case I might save a little at some future time isn't a good deal for me, so I will be happy to switch to a new plan.


RE: If they do.....
By Shatbot on 7/21/2010 5:06:21 AM , Rating: 2
This is exactly where the "invisible hand" doesn't work. It's easy to say you can swap to another carrier (ignoring the quality of the network etc), and theoretically the ones with the best prices will get the most customers fueling competition. The problem comes from the fact that if everyone gets reemed by all the telco's matching each others price offerings, everything will stagnate. There can't be any new players to change the status quo because start up costs are too expensive.

Petrol has had this happening for years - even being dumb enough to actually have price setting meetings where they managed to get caught. For every cockroach you see there's 9 you don't, it's astounding how much of this sort of thing must go on. Well it's not really astounding, its common sense. Also they don't have to do anything illegal just to match each others pricing scheme.

I'd guess that the tiered pricing will become standard, with no one giving a "great" deal compared to anyone else, and the companies will instead focus on the individual handsets to do battle with.


Caps
By Mirath on 7/21/2010 10:34:04 AM , Rating: 3
Well, I guess if you are okay with Caps on wireless data then you will have no problem with caps for home use as well. I mean they are spending all kinds of money updating the copper to fiber, and hey since that is a good idea I think they should also put caps on TV watching and Cable and Satellite use. Why do I have to pay as much for my Satellite use as a guy who is always on the box loading up the system. I hardly ever watch TV so to offset how little I use it those that use more should pay more and my bill should go down. That would help offset the cost of my Data plan that I do use allot. Oh but I bet you see it differently on those things. If Data caps happen on wireless you can bet when companies see that they can use it in one area and make more $$ they will move it into other areas




RE: Caps
By MrTeal on 7/21/2010 10:58:09 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly, you have no idea how the systems you're describing work. For digital cable, a channel won't be on the cable out to a neighborhood unless one of the subscribers request it. Once it is however, it's available to all the users in the neighborhood without consuming any more bandwidth. The difference in costs for a cable company for a high-demand user versus an intermittent user is pretty low, at least for TV.

quote:
If Data caps happen on wireless you can bet when companies see that they can use it in one area and make more $$ they will move it into other areas


It will be a dark day when the electricity company starts charging you for what you consume instead of just your connection to the grid, or they take away that flat fee I pay for gas and I have to start closing the windows and doors in the winter to save money.


Jeez
By ArenaNinja on 7/21/2010 3:29:46 AM , Rating: 2
I really wonder who would stand in line to pay $40 for 250MB of data. Assuming a YouTube video stream is 5MB, that means you get to stream 50 videos and be done with it, assuming you don't use it for anything else. I've done this on my device (at work) on a weekly basis for a few months in a row.

I'm guessing their reasoning will be that most users will be using Wi-Fi and not their data plan anyways, but if that's the case then why require it for a smartphone? To "subsidize the cost"? I think that's bull. I seem to remember a subsidized RAZR on release date cost as much as a subsidized smartphone does today. With a data plan, these "Smartphones" pay themselves at least twice over.

And it's not like I'm being an idiot. I understand the limitations of current infrastructure and all that, but too often companies will say that price increases are an "investment." If that were really the case, then these increases would be temporary or non-existant; since a superior infrastructure will sway many users from competitors, these improvements should be seen as a long-term investment.

But hey, it's why I'll never make CEO. My investors will probably kick me out for having a long-term outlook.




RE: Jeez
By MGSsancho on 7/21/2010 5:02:56 AM , Rating: 2
Just went to youtube at i downloaded some stuff. 4:26 clip at the 480P setting is 9.3MB in size. the 320P was 7.6MB


Small correction
By FishTankX on 7/21/2010 3:58:14 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Will customers embrace AT&T and Verizon's tiered, capped data plans? Or will they rebel and jump to Sprint and Verizon and agree to pay a nominal fee if they want their data to be transferred at faster rates?


Did you mean 'Jump to Sprint and T-mobile' here?




What about System Upgrades?
By jbwhite99 on 7/21/2010 10:03:02 AM , Rating: 2
If VZW/Motorola push Froyo to me after July 29, does that mean I have to pay for the bandwidth, or they do? You might have people who have hit their cap decline essential upgrades.

Personally, I use about 500-600MB per month, so I have to sign up for the 2GB plan - a $5 savings (woo hoo). I think this is just simply a money grab/network bandwidth reducer by the Death Star, and boo to Verizon for following along.




RE: What about System Upgrades?
By cmdrdredd on 7/21/2010 5:05:16 PM , Rating: 1
Why don't they just spend the money to upgrade their fucking network instead of trying to screw everyone?


By kusala on 7/21/2010 6:24:02 AM , Rating: 2
Goodbye Verizon and hello Sprint. I will speak with my money and I am sure Sprint will thank Verizon for all the new customers.

Why should the many pay for the few? Is that not how the US works? Well its usually the lazy wanting the freebies from the working class it just a bit different here.




Bait and switch
By Lord 666 on 7/21/2010 8:14:06 AM , Rating: 2
For VZW smartphone customers in 2 year agreements that have the tether option, not sure how they are going to do it legally.

My BB is on a government contract, there is no way legally they can change those rates.




Proof reading really is a must.
By HrilL on 7/21/2010 1:41:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Will customers embrace AT&T and Verizon's tiered, capped data plans? Or will they rebel and jump to Sprint and Verizon and agree to pay a nominal fee if they want their data to be transferred at faster rates? Only time will tell, but it should be interesting to watch for whether Verizon officially airs a tiered smart phone data scheme.


That Verizon should read T-Mobile




Regular Phone Usage
By tng on 7/21/2010 2:06:42 PM , Rating: 2
I think that it is a good thing to get pricing like this. Being an old fart, I have come to realize that while I would like to upgrade my standard cell phone to a Smart Phone of some kind (not Iphone), I really don't want to pay for a standard data plan that will now double my bill.

I want some of the bells and whistles, but most of the features for downloading data for me will go to waste, so IF I can get a SPH plan for $10 bucks more than I pay now, I would do it, but not $40 or $50.

Maybe the telcos are thinking of new market demographics, like the one that I am in.




Hurry up Verizon....
By breethon on 7/21/2010 6:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
Put it in place while I still have my 30 days to cancel my upgrade to Droid X. Looks like I may need to get an Evo....




Verizon or TMobil?
By Icehearted on 7/22/2010 1:06:00 PM , Rating: 2
I tried sprint and had no bars at all. I've considered giving one of these two a try but couldn't decide which. Thank you, Verizon, for helping me make up my mind :)




On the 5gb unlimited cap comments..
By radzer0 on 7/22/2010 5:39:21 PM , Rating: 2
There isnt really a 5gb cap. If you have the unlimited and use 5.5gb. They wont complain or charge you more.

If you start using massive amounts every month than they will.

IF verizon would setup there wireless systems on smartphones like the iphone where it will automaticly connect to open wifi signals it would be alot more productive. But sadly verizon cant seem to give us a good solid battery life on a phone. My android phone sucks down battery 3x quicker than a iphone when i have bluetooth and wifi on and i cant even use it for a full day. Give me good battery life with wifi on and it will prob pull 20-25% of my data load off verizon. A actual benefit for verizon for helping the customer.




as a long time ATT user
By spamreader1 on 7/21/2010 9:12:42 AM , Rating: 1
2GB seems fair enough to me on the cell phones. $25/2GB then another $25 for each additional 2GB seems fair enough, however the 5GB cap on the air cards is rediculous. ATT recently went gestapo on that as well, for 3 years I've used an air card as my only means of internet at home. (I live in a rural area) As of July 1st they no longer allow an occasional overage, you are charged $.05/MB so if on some strange chance I go over by say 2GB on month I just paid ~$100 extra. Why not use the approch of if you use 5GB you simply pay another $50 for another 5GB? Also unless you knew about this change in advance, when you hit 5GB ATT just shuts down your SIM until the next billing cycle.




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