There has been a load of straw heaped upon it recently.

In a characteristically intelligent fashion, only found in non-U.S. publications, web presence TechEYE has an article this morning that assess the current state of the mobile web, and why it may not be the bed of roses that the users and handset companies wish for.

The US mobile revolution looks like it might be stalled by telcos ending their unlimited access schemes.

US Telco Verizon is moving away from its “unlimited access” schemes following the other big supplier AT&T.

According to Digital Trends, Verizon Wireless wants to offer a restricted, less expensive data plan for its smartphone users Verizon customers will get a connection for $15 but will only be allowed 150MB of data access. If a user exceeds this arbitrary limit, a 10 cent charge is added for each additional megabyte.

While ten cents per megabyte is not going to break anyone’s bank account, it is another nickel and dime attempt at getting the most dollars out of customers, without most of them voicing their displeasure, or moving on to more sensible things, like using a mobile phone for voice and using the computer at home for internet access.

There are those that would say this a very Luddite-like stance, but it is one that needs to be taken for several reasons. The first is that the telcos like Verizon will play the “whatever the traffic will bear” tune for as long as most dance to it. Another is that the FCC, with its usual “do nothing correctly” status, is trying to remove more of the spectrum allocated to television for mobile telephony and internet communication. It is not only not really needed, the current limits of the available bands have not been reached, nor will they be for some time. Yet another is that the last spectrum grab, with its cry of emergency channel bandwidth needs has been shown to be fraudulent in nature, as the areas where the supposed bandwidth was needed have done nothing to expand.

While these sorts of packages are what we have to put up with in Europe, the US has been a little reluctant to bring them in.

The Land of the Free has always been proud of having unlimited access and generally the feeling amongst consumers is that anything less is somehow wrong.

Perhaps we are not as piggish as the Europeans would think, after all, we still pay from both sides of a mobile telephone conversation, something they have never done.

The Verizon package will see the telco charging 10 cents a megabyte, with a $15 minimum fee. But the carrier will, however, continue to offer “unlimited” data access for $29.99 at least for now.

The problem is that 150MB of data is soon eaten up on a smartphone. All you have to do is watch a few YouTube videos, browse a few websites, and download a podcast and you’re done.

Observers in the US think that many users may end up paying more than $30 in excesses if they use their phone too much.

Verizon is following a similar move from AT&T which completely eliminated its “unlimited” $29.99 data plan in favor of a $15 plan that includes 200MB and a $25 plan with 2GB of data.

If you go over your limit you get walloped by an additional $15 which gives you another 50MB. If you go over that you get hit by an additional $10 which buys a 1GB of data.

All up, it looks like the big US telcos are hitting consumers with a bewildering number of plans which almost certainly will see many punters having to pay more for data.

This could actually stall any planned mobile revolution as much of the new technology demands a lot more mobile bandwidth to be worthwhile.   The feeling is that 4G will make life a lot worse for people.

4G is just another moniker put up by some less than wondrous marketing type. The problem is that wireless, unlike wired, service, is full of problems, not the least of which is its shared nature. No matter what we would like to believe, the airwaves are shared. There is a limit to what can be carried with all parties being able to distinguish what is theirs from that which is not.

So if we are going to have great new things available wirelessly, let’s have proper pricing, with concerns for the customer, yet enough concern for the profits of the provider that they are willing to continue the service. There must be a happy medium, and the current plans of Verizon and AT&T are not anywhere near reaching that midpoint.

Then perhaps we can work on that bandwidth problem – the one where the FCC stole bandwidth from an unsuspecting public for yet another time.


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