Dear Smartphone Users,
We live in a world where cell phone carriers all across the board ask you to pay for at least three things; internet, text messaging & voice. They attempt to justify that these three aspects of what makes a smartphone, a smartphone, are so vastly unique that they warrant individual pricing schemes. I’m here to say, that’s hogwash!
What these guys are essentially doing are deceiving you into believing that the technologies required to send & receive your texts, download a song or app & talk to your neighbor are different. They’re not. It all boils down to one thing.. data.
Yes, data. That $15/$30/$50 "extra" you’re paying for is essentially the exact same resource that delivers your text messages & phone calls. It is all information being transmitted to & from one device. They know exactly how much you’re sending & receiving every minute of the day.
So why do you get charged for text messages & voice if it’s all just data? It all boils down to one thing.. greed! They want to milk every penny they can convince us we need to spend on their services.
Text messaging, for example, is the biggest culprit of their greed schemes because it requires the least amount of data consumption out of the three but you pay the most for it.
A standard text message is easily less than 500bytes in size. Let’s say you send 10,000 text messages a month; that is only equivalent to ~4megabytes of data. ONLY 4MB! Do you realize how small that is? Most MP3 songs are larger than 4MB. A standard HD movie is about 900MB’s. Your data plans usually give you, at minimum, 200MB’s. Oh and most people don’t send out nearly that many text messages a month, either.
It should be a crime for you to spend $20 a month on an unlimited messaging service that would cost you less than $1 a month if it were included in your overall data usage.
At the end of the day, all we are using is data & that is all we should pay for. A single price, based on the amount of data we consume. Their are a few ways these companies can do this.
One way, is by charging us a flat, per MB, rate. For every MB we use we are charged a nominal fee that accrues & appears on our monthly statements.
Another way is by setting a cap (like many carriers currently do) on the amount of data you can use and charging you overage fees when you surpass the limit.
A third alternative is creating speed based tiers, like some cable companies do. Wherein you give consumers numerous speed plan options to choose from & they choose based on their buying power how much they’re willing to spend for faster Internet speeds.
A fourth alternative (my favorite) is by offering high speed data limits that if surpassed won’t include overage fees but will merely slow down the speed of your connection. This is currently in practice by T-Mobile & makes the most sense to me from a consumer and provider P.O.V. As the provider you are allowing your consumers to experience your fastest connection whilst controlling those that "overuse" your data services, slowing their connection & reducing the amount of data they can consume, yet not penalizing them with an overage fee.
People are spending far too much on cell phone plans, especially those that opt to use smartphones. It’s unfair and ridiculous.
I was so tired of it, that I completely abandoned cell phone carriers for about 4 months & had my own makeshift way of communicating with peers. It included my iPod touch, a Google Voice account, a Skype phone number & a Clear wireless hotspot.
Basically, I used the Google Voice app on my iPod touch to send and receive free text messages and to make and receive free phone calls. But Google Voice needs a "real phone number" to forward its calls to, that’s where my Skype number came into play. For only $30 a year I can receive incoming calls to my Skype number & Google Voice can forward any calls it receives to Skype.
Then there’s my Clear wireless hotspot. Because my calls could only be made over a WiFi connection (and unless I wanted to only rely only on public WiFi networks I could connect to in stores, parks or at home) I needed a persistent WiFi hotspot. Starting at only $35 a month, I was able to use Clear’s 4G internet to surf the web & make and receive phone calls & text messages at relatively high speeds.
If you do the math, I was paying less than $40 a month for a makeshift 4G cell phone. But their were caveats. For one, the Skype app was unreliable, I didn’t always get every call made to me & if I did, I often wasn’t able to open the app fast enough before it went to voicemail. Also, 911 services aren’t supported, so if you’re in an emergency & you don’t know the nearest precincts phone # you’re fresh out of luck. Lastly, Clear’s 4G isn’t available in a lot of areas that other wireless carriers may cover, making for an uncomfortable situation when you’re in a neighborhood you don’t know your way around.
That being said, it shows that having an affordable smartphone that runs on merely a data plan is more than possible, it’s plausible. It only takes these carriers to lessen their greed, which is highly unlikely. Honestly, what it will really require are laws and regulations that I can’t begin to outline on my own.
I went back to T-Mobile, (after my four month exodus from AT&T and carriers all together) they seem to provide good enough pricing & coverage for my needs. They’re currently the only company that is close to my dream of a data only network with good coverage & affordable and reasonable pricing schemes.
This isn’t a T-Mobile ad, it’s a cry for change. The way we pay for cell phone services needs to improve. How much we pay needs to reduce. The options we have need to increase.
So, here’s to hope. Cheers.