Mobile broadband usage has become a part of daily life in 2014. Many of us have smartphones such as Android-based handsets and the award-winning Apple iPhone, and these handsets offer us innovative ways to get online through built-in web browsers and apps.
The increasing take-up of 4G or LTE means that mobile browsing has become lightning-fast these days. I recently upgraded to a 4G tariff for my mobile phone contract, and, at the time, I only had an 8Mb ADSL connection at home. I was shocked when I checked that my mobile broadband connection was more than twice the speed of my home broadband connection!
But while this new technology is pretty awesome and all, there is one thing that I just can’t get my head around, and it’s the way that MNOs (mobile network operators) charge people for going on the Internet using their smartphones, tablets and other devices over a mobile broadband connection.
As you probably know by now, MNOs tend to charge people according to the ‘amount’ of data they use, or to be more specific, the amount of downstream and upstream bandwidth that they use.
There are all sorts of different mobile data plans on offer, depending on whether you are a light, regular or heavy data user.
Network operators are pretty strict with how much data you can use in general if you opt for an “unlimited” data plan (although they sometimes won’t tell you what constitutes as “fair use”), and their real time billing systems will usually alert you when you are about to run low or completely use up your quota for the month.
Why mobile broadband data plans should be scrapped
As is the case with most things on offer by network operators, price plans are always biased in favour of the companies themselves rather than the amount of value you get out of the service received.
I understand that mobile network operators have to make a profit – after all, a business would go bankrupt otherwise – but the way in which they charge for something that most, if not all, of their customers use on a regular basis is pretty unethical.
Let’s say that you pay a certain amount of money for 1GB of data each month on your mobile broadband plan. A lot of people won’t get anywhere near that figure if all they do is check their emails during their daily commute to work and back when they are sitting on the bus or a train, because, for the most part, their mobile devices will be connected to a Wi-Fi network at home or at work.
There is currently no provision for people to be able to pay for what they use (even on pay-as-you-go tariffs, I’m afraid to say), you can only pay for a ‘limit’, and woe betide you if you wish to downgrade your tariff in the middle of a contract!
And then there is the question of service quality. Is it really fair to pay for a 3G or 4G mobile data connection that in many cases isn’t much faster than older dial-up Internet speeds of the 1990s?