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Requiring a data plan

by DangMI / August 25, 2009 7:44 AM PDT

I agree that people who want a smart phone without a data plan are a small minority, but they sure should be able to do so. My wife--who is semi-determinedly non-geek--just wants something that would easily synch her calendar and contacts. She doesn't want to have to paste over into some proprietary phone book app every time she changes something, especially as far as appts and the like. And we're willing to pay a few bucks more for the features, even tho we'd be buying some capabilities that she won't use. But Verizon insists. Why don't they want our money? Now they're getting nothing!

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I think Apple said it best...
by robstak / August 25, 2009 7:58 AM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

...or at least Apple admitted it first, and I am compelled to agree.

When a company makes a product, they have some ideal about how they'd like it to work. if you cripple features by not getting a data plan then you wont think the product is as cool as it could be.

i believe that is the argument they try to make, although the extra 30-50 bucks a month im sure they arent not happy about lol

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You've opened my eyes!
by DangMI / August 25, 2009 8:21 PM PDT

I bought a computer with Office pre-installed, but I really never used PowerPoint. Since they intended that to be part of the whole Office experience, I am crippling their product and must make amends. And it's even worse--I'm using Thunderbird instead of Outlook! My sins multiply.

OMG, now that I think of it--I'm using Firefox instead of Explorer. My Lord--that was specifically built into Windows just to enhance my user experience and I'm not spitting in the face of their generosity.

Sorry, got to go now--need to make sure the doors and windows are locked--I'm pretty sure they can come repossess the computer now, due to my abusive behavior. <g>

Kidding aside, I think I understand your point, but I do feel that not using something is WAY different than crippling it. And, they don't actually care if you use the data plan--they're don't, I'm sure, send you nagging notices that you aren't surfing enough--they just want you to PAY for the plan. And they take away the chance that once it's in our hands, we'll be tempted to use the additional features and giver them more money later. Studies show that over 90% of the time, if you don't let someone buy your product, you make less money, money either then or in the future. Sad

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the point is about control of an experience.
by robstak / November 21, 2009 12:53 AM PST
In reply to: You've opened my eyes!

realize this post is old sry, lol, but the point is that they want to control the experience so they can be assured its what they wanted- and they are saying that what they wanted is the smoothest experience..

again not saying i agree but i believe thats the argument.

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by Nicholas Buenk / November 21, 2009 1:19 PM PST

They should give you some control over that experience yourself, like they do on the mac and OS X, it's as open as windows if not more open... The EULA may suck, but the kernel of the OS is open sourced and nothing is locked down.

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Seems like it's for the $s
by DangMI / November 21, 2009 8:49 PM PST

I would better believe in their commitment to improving the customer's experience, if they didn't charge for it.

"I'm doing this for your own good, now give me $50 a month." So, who's good is it REALLY for?

Companies are good at double-speak. And governments. Did you see the last "Clean Air Act" (don't remember the exact title) that dropped lots of regulations and increased pollution? It WAS about clean air, just not about IMPROVING it!

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good point
by rnauth1418 / November 23, 2009 6:24 AM PST

good point. I was on the ATT forums having a heated debate against att defenders. This argument is the only one in favor of att that makes sense.

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I agree with the people who say the FCC should get involved
by minimalist / August 25, 2009 10:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

The carriers abuse the half-monopolies they are given by the FCC to hoist policies like this on consumers. They are being handed a platform for business which automatically limits competition (the auctioning of available frequencies). Because of this these need to be held to certain standards of behavior. If this were the free market, another carrier could come along and serve this demand in the market.

That said, there may be something about the way these carriers subsidize the smart phones that means they need that data plan money to make back their upfront costs for the hardware. If that's the case then I sort of understand their position, but even then its not quite fair. If the subsidy payback is built into the data and call plan costs why don't those of us who bring our own hardware to the table get a better deal? We pay the same thing as the subsidized customers and the carriers are laughing all the way to the bank.

The whole subsidization system is rotten and crooked if you ask me.

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We've talked earlier
by Nicholas Buenk / August 25, 2009 2:08 PM PDT

About how subidisation and phone exclusivity is really collusion designed to limit competition for a phone and keep up prices, iPhone costs more than double in the US than what it costs here in Australia for example, where it's on all 4 carriers and sold in an unlocked state by apple stores!. Point is, the FCC isn't required to create a monopoly situation, this industry can do it quite well on their own.

But about subisation, what if you bought the phone outright an just want a plan, why should you be forced to pay rates designed for subidised users. Wouldn't it make more sense to keep that voice and data plan at a lower rate, and specify handset repayment fee as a seperate item on the bill. It's what Aussie carriers do. Wink Perhaps they fear American consumers getting upset and demanding they not be charged twice for the phone, as they've Bern continuing the illusion that the real cost of a smartphone phone is only around $200 for so long.

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We've also talked about how that money you think
by minimalist / August 26, 2009 4:18 AM PDT
In reply to: We've talked earlier

you are saving on the cost of the phone is actually being made up in data limits, something that will never fly in the US. We are an all you can eat culture. Australian phone companies aren't getting the iPhone any cheaper then US carriers and they sure as hell aren't losing money on the deal. So they make it up through being miserly with the service they provide.

Since data limits aren't an popular option here, the phone costs have to be made up via upfront costs or subsidization. And people wont pay the upfront costs unless it gives them cheaper service. This has to change for us to move forward. More transparency in how subsidies are recouped would be a good start.

Not that I hate subsidization. Its a perfectly legitimate idea as long as there is a a viable alternative. But here in the US there is not really an alternative that makes economic sense (and I suspect the carriers like it that way). They don't want people to buy their phones unsubsidized because it means they may go to a competitor for service or some other retailer will make a profit off the hardware sale. They want to keep it all in the family. So you pay the same for your service either way, which means if you bring your own phone to the table they make even more profit off of you which is really perverted.

But this wont change through market forces because there just isn't enough competition here (there's only two GSM carriers and one has a sucky data network). I think the FCC will need to give the carriers a swift kick in the butt to get them to budge from the status quo or allow more carriers into the playing field to force them to go where they fear to tread. Thse carriers have become far too complacent with the status quo of lock-in contracts and overpriced SMS messages.

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by Nicholas Buenk / August 26, 2009 2:35 PM PDT

It's actually quite hard to use more than about 300MB on a smart phone, unless you do audio or video streaming, most people I speak to seem to be below 200MB and to their surprise found they over-spent on a larger data plan than what they need. And wouldn't data caps be preferable to carriers selectively banning data intensive app?
I think that even if you take the data cap into account, AT&T still massively overcharges for the iPhone.
Subsidisation here works differently. On Optus for iPhone 32GB for example, for voice plans, $19($16USD), about 50 minutes and 100MB, for $49($40USD) about 400 minutes and 250M. They don't charge for the handset upfront but it comes out of your bill monthly $34($28USD) for the $19 plan, $19($16USD) for the $49 plan, that doesn't quite cover the cost of the phone though it's still subsidised by the voice plan. They also have an all you can eat plan for $99 ($82USD), which contains unlimited call minutes, $0 for the phone entirely subsidised and 1.5GB of data, hardly any iPhone user is going to exceed that much data, and this is only $12 more than AT&T's least expensive plan, hehe.
If the voice plan doesn't contain enough free data for you, they offer additional data plan, $20($16USD) for 1GB, $45($37USD) for 6GB, and these plans will also enable tethering on the phone. 6GB on a smart phone is practically unlimited! It's not realistic that you could pass that unless you use tethering.
Of course this is Optus, their network drives people crazy with it's dropped calls and how often it drops to GPRS because their 3G sucks. But with these prices, they have the largest market share with iPhone users.
Telstra has an awesome network with 21mbit 3G, 99% of the population covered, that is a ground area of 3 times the size of texas. But they sure make you pay for it. Lets see, Telstra, $49($40USD) for 250 minutes and $550($454USD) for the phone upfront cost. Hardly any data is included in the voice plan. Their data plans, 300MB $30($24USD), $60($49USD) 1GB, $90($74USD) 5GB. Yikes! Sure with them you can get 3G in the middle of no where with nothing but kangaroos to share the experience with, but at this price, well most people are picking Optus. They're offering these absurd prices, not because they have a monopoly on the product like AT&T, but because they have a far superior network that's 5 bars 3G pretty much all the time and hardly ever drops a call. (which, on a different topic, it's performance on telstra is good evidence that nothing is wrong with the iPhone's radio).
No doubt it wouldn't be so cheap here, if not for the fact that Apple sold the phone unlocked in Apple stores, and that the 4 main carriers offer the iPhone on contract, so there is real competition. The main reason this situation occurred, is because Telstra, being the arrogant and pig headed company they are, was the only carrier to have EDGE back in 2007, rejected the iPhone as they were upset that Apple wouldn't allow them to put their software and services on the phone. And famously publicly told Apple to stick to their knitting! (an expression, basically saying, they should stick to making iPods and not mess around in markets they have no idea about).

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Neither is acceptable
by minimalist / August 27, 2009 1:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Actually

<i>It's actually quite hard to use more than about 300MB on a smart phone, unless you do audio or video streaming, most people I speak to seem to be below 200MB and to their surprise found they over-spent on a larger data plan than what they need.</i>

Nonsense. I use 750MB to 1.5 GB of data a month and as this sector grows we will all continue to use more. Quotas are just not good for growth. They are not forward thinking at all. All they are good for is preserving the status quo for the carrier. Data caps are an easy way for the carriers to avoid upgrading their infrastructure. They don't belong on land based networks or cellular ones. If the carriers want to have tiered pricing plan then fine for different amounts of data then fine (actually the people who want to use data heavy apps like sling player etc would likely have move up to more expensive plans just because of the amount of data they use), but capping with ridiculous overages (or worse, just being cut off) is a horrible idea.

</i>And wouldn't data caps be preferable to carriers selectively banning data intensive app?</i>

Neither are acceptable and AT&T would still not accept heavy bandwidth apps. If they don;t have enough bandwidth for their current users, putting a monthly data cap on them would do nothing to change the bandwidth hogging effects of apps like sling player.

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Some network management technique is required
by Nicholas Buenk / August 27, 2009 1:28 PM PDT
In reply to: Neither is acceptable

Wireless, is shared bandwidth. All the devices are sharing the same spectrum and bandwidth, in the air. There has to be some sort of rationing or service, or the network performance will degrade dramatically for everybody. Not just in terms of speed, but the way 3G networks work, the coverage area shrinks with high usage.
Data caps put some of the responsibility on the users, so they can manage their own usage, or pay more, they are a way to enable network management without violating principles of network neutrality.
And how on earth are you using 1.5GB of data on an iPhone? You streaming video to your device? Using an internet radio app? If just doing web browsing, to achieve 1.5GB would require something like 3 hours of mobileSafari use a day. Remember it's not a computer, you don't use it for downloading files.
Cell phone carriers charge you per MB here if you go over the limit. But cable/DSL providers rather will throttle your service to around 128kbit if you exceed a data cap.

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Oh come on now....
by minimalist / August 28, 2009 2:03 AM PDT

<i>And how on earth are you using 1.5GB of data on an iPhone? You streaming video to your device? Using an internet radio app?</i>

The more apps you install the more data you use. Its a simple equation. And there is no need for judgment and snark just because you don;t currently use that much data. As streaming apps get added (radio, simplify music, video, etc) obviously data usage will go up. This only moves in one direction and it isn't downward.

The SMART thing for companies to do is to offer more options and plans. Charge more for more bandwidth or more data for those who WANT to use it. The market will grow as more compelling apps are released to take advantage of this ever increasing bandwidth.

The thing NOT to do is for these companies to rest on their laurels and just put up quotas. Do you really think that Netflix streaming or Hulu would have ever gotten to where it is if cable companies said "we don;t think anybody ever needs more than 1GB of data a month nor do they need more than 1Mbps). Of course not. They realized that people would pay more for higher speed plans.

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by Nicholas Buenk / August 28, 2009 3:53 PM PDT
In reply to: Oh come on now....

I do use simplify media and VPN. Regular web use, infact I'm typing this on the iPhone and posting over 3G. I usually get up to around 400MB which is certainly above average. I've gotten past that only with tethering, I have 1.1GB.
But AT&T or any phone company, simply can't afford to have large numbers of users downloading gigabytes of data without overloading the networks. Cellular networks are very limited in capacity. There is a limited amount of spectrum shared around every device in a cell and only way to deal with this if capacity rus out, build more cells so each cell covers less area. Another problem is, cell tower is usually connected by a line of sight microwave link which tends to not be that high in bandwidth. Or you could lay fibre to each cell tower, expensive.
So what can they do? They can lock down the device an prevent data hungry apps. Or have quotas.

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Lol you are limited
by hosko / August 27, 2009 12:24 AM PDT

"We are an all you can eat culture."

Just like your EVDO plans they may call it unlimited but they have "fair use" limitations. The unlimited EVDO plan is capped at 5Gb per month.

Also your data plans cost you $30 per month for the life time you have your iPhone.

So on AT&T if you want unlimited calls you have to pay $99.99 a month + $20 a month for unlimited text messages + $30 for the data plan plus the upfront cost of the phone. So for the iPhone 3Gs 32Gb thats $299. Your total monthly spend is US$149.99

Now compare that to one of Australia's carriers plans Optus's $99 Timeless package. For your $99 you get unlimited standard national calls and test messages and you get 1.5Gb of data. You don't pay anything for the phone, its all covered in the monthly spend. That's right you get it for free. Sure your plan is unlimited data but here you can pay for more data if you need it. An extra 6Gb will cost you $44.99 a month. So say your went with this package the total monthly spend is AU$143.99 or US$120.20. I highly doubt anybody needs more then 7.5Gb of data a month. I only have 800mb a month of data and never go near using all that up because when I download a lot I'm in wifi areas.

Sure our data is capped but you get to use all of that up. Your data is called unlimited but is capped at 5Gb. I'd prefer to pay nothing upfront for the phone and have the choice of which data plan I go onto. If I'm going to be on the road and ramp up my data plan so I have enough to tether the phone to my MBP.

The all you can eat culture is highly overrated because you have to pay for people who use or eat a lot more then you would. If your a light to medium user you have to pay for the few that a heavy/excessive users. What's wrong for paying less if you eat less. Also its hardly all you can eat if you get kicked out if you go up for thirds.

So in conclusion our monthly spend is lower, with that lower monthly spend we can get 2.5Gb more data a month. We pay nothing for the iPhone up front if your on a plan with a high enough monthly spend. If we put in another Sim Card into the iPhone we can use that plan and they don't force you up to a special iPhone plan. The AT&T plans are atrocious, they can afford to be beacuse you can't get the phone from anywhere else. I got my iPhone 3G on launch day from the apple store in Sydney. At the apple store they asked who you wanted to sign up with. Everybody signed up with the cheapest provider which forced the other two to lower their plans. In other words we have competition in an open market.

You may think your markets are open because you live in the greatest capitalistic society on earth. They aren't, most of your laws are tailored to suit companies not individuals. Here we have a federal body that solely looks at competition and consumer complaints.

We also have public hospitals that don't cost you a cent to get treatment in but that's another debate all together Silly

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No data caps on iPhone... at least written caps.
by minimalist / August 27, 2009 1:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Lol you are limited

So that is "unlimited". Nobody who uses an iPhone ever has to go check their data usage (and hope that that its correct and up to dat to avoid overage charges). And its also one of the reasons why iPhone users are the heaviest users of the web on mobile devices.

If you want an fledgling industry to grow you don't put artificial limitations on its use.

Arguing for the status quo (60 dollars a month for 5GB data caps) is not a very forward thinking argument. The iPhones unlimited 30 dollar a month plan is like a breath of fresh air in an industry that is still pricing themselves as if its 2004 and only corporate users need data plans.

Asking "why would someone need all that data?" is really not all that different than some grandfather asking why anyone "NEEDS" a cell phone anyway... or a FAX machine, etc.

Give people lots of bandwidth and business will mushroom around it. Hold them back and it will stiffle innovation.

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Why is there no data cap on the iPhone
by Nicholas Buenk / August 27, 2009 1:36 PM PDT

Because it's extremely hard to use that much data, 5GB, on an iPhone. Infact the typical iPhone user will be well under 1GB of usage.

The lack of a cap is not at all because iPhone users are the heaviest mobile users, the reason is mobileSafari is excellent and close enough to a desktop web browsing experience, that people actually use it, a lot!

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It is indeed because safari is so good
by minimalist / August 28, 2009 1:43 AM PDT

but the never underestimate the chilling effect of quotas and obscenely expensive overage charges.

Just look at how miserable it is to travel to other countries with an iPhone. Even when you TRY to buy data for usage you can get stuck with a 700-1000 dollar bill... for doing nothing but going 100-200 MB over your limit! So yeah, AT&T will make a lot of money one time. But then people will just not use their iPhones ever again once they get zapped with a huge bill. Quotas and limits will limit usage even if only because people are scared of going over. its just not smart business and its not forward thinking.

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People just monitor their data use
by Nicholas Buenk / August 28, 2009 2:17 PM PDT

One of the apps at the top of the chart on the Australian app store, optus usage meter. Just loads the carriers web page and reports your usage.

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There is a Datacap for the iPhone
by Maarek Stele / November 10, 2009 1:06 PM PST

AT&T tracks your data usage, if it exceeds actual usage that the phone can physically do, AT&T will hit you $1/meg. How? Tethering. Yeah, it's not released yet for the iphone, but jailbroken phones can do it. Hell, my HTC phone has the option every time I charge the phone through a computer.

If you do tether, use it sparingly or for simple tasks, not downloading or streaming video.

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crap, I was (honestly) going to get a smart phone w/o...
by shmody / August 26, 2009 6:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

crap, I was (honestly) going to get a smart phone w/o a data plan to keep cost down. I just wanted to make sure it had Wi-Fi, reasonable navigation (pointer, scrollwheel, touch, etc.) and some media ability.

I hope I won't run into a big problem with this stuff in the future...


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I guess this is another reason I like my Internet Tablet ;)
by shmody / August 28, 2009 8:24 AM PDT

I guess this is another reason I like my Internet Tablet Wink
No/little service fees if Wi-Fi is available! And...I feel a bit better that someone wanting my data won't get into my (super basic) mobile phone to do so.


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by Nicholas Buenk / August 28, 2009 2:21 PM PDT

All you need is a mifi and a voip app. Wink

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I was once in that minority
by hurleyit / August 27, 2009 5:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

Before my husband and I got iPhones, we had Palm Treos we bought used and put on the Verizon Wireless network (so there was no subsidy from them). We didn't want access to the internet, but rather the combination of a PDA and telephone in one, relatively easy-to-use device. We asked them to drop the internet connection ability because the device liked to use the internet whenever it could, even if we didn't want it to do so. And when we upgrade our iPhones, I would love to give the old ones to my parents sans the internet access so that they can have wifi-enabled media devices that are also capable of making phone calls. But sadly, it seems that the cell phone companies don't want us to reuse our existing devices. So basically, I think Paul from episode 1050 is completely wrong on this one.

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Minutes are dead....
by skellener / August 29, 2009 3:41 AM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

Paying for "minutes" is a legacy concept left over from the 20th century. It's ALL data anyway. It's digital. Bits are bits.

When you use the internet at home, you pay for a connection. You can hook up a router, a computer, a game console, a voip device, a digital picture frame, a webcam, etc.... It doesn't matter. It's your choice what to use the connection for. That is what wireless service needs to move to. That IS what it will move to whether the carriers like it or not. The My-Fi is the first step in the right direction. You pay for the connection service and then use whatever device you want.

Forcing people to pay for data plans if they do not want may be in the carrier's best interest, but may not be in the public's best interest. Same the other way, you may want data only and no minutes. Carriers need to address these concerns. Remember, the wireless carriers are using the public airwaves to offer service. When the the public interests are not being met, the government can step in and make regulation changes so that they will be addressed. I can see them regulating the separation of services, making it illegal to force bundling of services. That doesn't mean they can't bundle services if they want, it just means that they must offer them separately as well so that people have the option to pick what they want.

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Verizon offers touch screen phones w/o a data plan
by Miri1018 / August 29, 2009 10:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

I am part of the minority who wants a smart phone without having to get a data plan. I use the phone as a phone 95% of the time, but would like to have some of the features of a smart phone at my disposal, and more importantly, already on the phone when I am ready to upgrade my plan to include digital usage (before my 2 year contract is up). Verizon called me as soon as my contract ended, in February, and wanted to sell me a new phone (OK, discount a new phone for me). I explained that I wanted a touch screen phone but wanted a voice only plan. They could not help me at that time. Fast forward to August - just a couple of weeks ago - Verizon called me with the same pitch. I asked again for a touch screen phone without having to upgrade my voice plan to a data plan, and they stated that two smart phones are now available for the voice plan. They are both LG, and I think one was the enV Touch, and know that the other is the LG Dare. Hopefully, they will offer more phones, as I am holding out for even better phones to be offered.

In the meantime, I am using my old phone with a voice plan only, and using my iPod touch for internet and messaging (when I have WiFi available). Yeah, it's a band-aid fix, but it works for me.

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Using AT&T LG Incite (Smartphone) With WiFi and NO Data Plan
by ace98bx / August 29, 2009 2:05 PM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

I was/am amazed that ATT actually charges for a data plan based on the device type!
- I was told it is $15 for non-smartphones and $30 for ANY "smartphone".
- So they have ONE(1) data plan and the price is determined by the device type !??
- This is nuts!

I am obsessed with my iPhone I like it so much.
- I have the data plan on my iPhone.

But, I am very upset with ATT and the no-choice data plan.

So, I do NOT have the data plan on the LG Incite in my family talk plan.

The LG Incite has WiFi capability and the person using it likes it a lot with NO data plan.
- They can get to internet no problem.

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May be based on yoru phone
by ahutch / August 31, 2009 12:05 AM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

FYI - I wanted a smartphone for much the same reason as your wife. I wanted to synch my contacts and appointments - but don't do Web browsing, email, etc. I do occasional text messages as well. I synch my phone with Outlook on my computer and all is well. I do not have any type of data plan. I looked at a couple of Blackberry models - but they all required a data plan. I opted for the Palm Treo (or you could go with the Palm Centro. My carrier is Verizon and I don't have a prepaid data plan, just the "pay as you go" per kb. I synch via USB cable instead of over-the-air - so I don't incurr any charges for data usage.

Works for me.

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Required Data Plans are ridiculous
by prberg / September 1, 2009 12:34 PM PDT
In reply to: Requiring a data plan

I agree with the first poster. Requiring a data plan is ridiculous. I also want a smart phone because it has more organizing capabilities than the other phones. Actually all I want is addresses. Is that too much to ask? When I asked Verizon about it, they said the smart phones are for internet use. Really? How about running more software than the 'dumb' phones, or syncing to outlook, or just having a full address/phone book?

I just don't need to spend $30 for a cell phone data plan. For me, I am either at home, at work, or driving in my car. So I don't need internet access on my cell phone. It really sucks that Verizon requires it on any phone that is 'smart. So I have to buy a 'dumb' phone or pay the big bucks. Very frustrating! Once my contract is up.. I will be shopping around to the smaller companies looking for a better deal.

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If you are signing a contract for a subsidized phone
by minimalist / September 1, 2009 1:42 PM PDT

I'm pretty sure carriers can require whatever services they want to require as a part of that contract.

If you bring your own smartphone to the table though with no subsidies on their part I don;t think they can (or should be able to) force you to get a data plan. Something tells me a court would side with consumers on this and the carriers know it.

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