Why unlimited smartphone data plans will probably vanish

In my latest CNN Tech mobile blog post, I riffed on the recent mixed signals Verizon and AT&T have been sending about whether they would offer unlimited data plans for the iPhone. But unlimited data plans may not be around long for any smartphone (or tablet, or mifi device, etc.), simply because of the difficulty of managing a growing proliferation of data-hungry mobile devices on wireless broadband networks.

See: Unlimited data for the iPhone? Don’t bet on it long term

Just after I filed that story, I noticed a relevant Jan. 25 post by Kevin Fitchard on Connected Planet:

Will bill shock be the death of tiered data plans, or the other way around?

Some key exerpts…

“I would argue that the rise of tiered and metered data plans could have the opposite effect and — if operators would stop getting so defensive about mandatory usage notifications — they could eliminate bill shock entirely.

“…Operators’ new plans aren’t perfect but they’re definitely more egalitarian in how they treat data under and over the cap. …While these data plans charge you for overages, they don’t slam you with them. There’s been an overall shift in the operators’ mentality toward getting customers to consume more data, not less — they just want their customers to pay for it.

…While overages of $10, $15, $30 might be common on given months, the $100-plus shocker at the end of the month would be a much more rare sight except for those who have no clue whatsoever how they’re using mobile data.

“…Now that data plans are becoming far less offensive in how they bill for overages, why don’t operators simply force customers to opt in to any additional data they use over their monthly limits? If everyone is opting in for every additional data charge, bill shock — at least as it pertains to data — would simply end.”

Sounds reasonable to me. I wish the carriers had handled it this way all along.

One thought on “Why unlimited smartphone data plans will probably vanish

  1. I suggest that you do a little more fact checking before writing cellular industry articles for CNN. The signaling traffic that you mention is broken into 2 distinct areas; 1st up is the cellular radio signaling, that NFCD helps, and is NOT considered DATA by the wireless provider. 2nd is the true data being used by all of the Apps, which keep themselves updated and IS charged to the users data plan. In reality it is a misnomer to call the latter category signalling traffic, since it is user data from a network perspective.

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