I can still remember choosing my first cell phone plan. It was 2001, I had a flip phone and my plan costs $49.99 for 450 minutes. I didn’t fear running over my minutes because I managed my minutes, the plan fit my lifestyle at the time, and as a college student that was the plan that fit my budget. Going over my allotted minutes was not financially feasible.
Fast-forward ten-plus years, and now I find myself managing my minutes and mobile data just as efficiently. My lifestyle now demands more, and thankfully my budget affords it.
What’s next? Hopefully, the ability to manage my broadband data consumption as well because I like the idea of buying just what I need, getting what I pay for. Nothing more, nothing less.
Currently, differential broadband Internet pricing is based solely on speed. However, as usage has evolved, the profiles of users have become more clearly defined. Speed isn’t the only defining characteristic. In fact users are more accurately defined by how and how much they use the Internet. As such, shouldn’t pricing follow suit?
Consumers would be better served to have choices in broadband pricing based on speed and usage. Consumers would then have the option to pay less per month for just the right amount of data at just the right speed, as opposed to being saddled with a monthly bill that doesn’t fit their monthly usage.
Opponents of new pricing models suggest that consumers will be frustrated if they try to figure out exactly how much data they consume and will end up purchasing more expensive plans to avoid overages. That’s not entirely untrue, but the past has shown us this confusion is just the growing pains of progress. There was frustration when cell phone providers first instituted their mobile broadband data pricing tiers, but customers have remained loyal; and with the help of data management software provided by the carriers, consumers are managing. In fact mobile broadband users continues to grow. In 2011 there were roughly 0.6 billion fixed broadband subscribers and almost 1.2 billion mobile broadband subscribers; and in developing countries mobile broadband is often the only access method available.
In 2001, if I had been forced to take a one-size-fits-all cell phone plan, chances are I would not have entered the market at that time. That begs one to consider how many people are on the other side of the digital divide waiting on packages that fit their user profile at the right speed and price? Or perhaps they are opting for mobile broadband because tiered-pricing by usage options exist.