Thursday, September 20, 2012

Data-Only Plans: Wishful Thinking

For all intents and purposes, T-Mobile's $30 Prepaid Plan (no handset subsidy) that provides 5 Gb of data per month *is* a data-only plan. I agree, it is more the exception than the rule at this point, but it definitely is a sign of things to come.
To an extent, though, the idea that a non-voice-user could save a lot of money with a data-only plan may be wishful thinking. The carriers have fixed costs and need a certain ARPU. They are going to try to get it one way or the other.

It is sort of analogous to how everybody wants cable TV stations to be un-bundled. Their reasonsing is that they only use 4 out of 50 channels. If they could just pick the 4 they want, then their monthly bill should plummet (ideally, to 4/50s of its current level). It's not gonna work this way. If it ever comes, it will be something like: (1) channel costs 1/2 of the full-fare, and each additional channel costs another 1/10. So (5) would be break-even.

Oh, and if they do that, most likely the cost of the bundle will go up.



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