Stilgherrian makes a strong point in Mobile broadband’s false promise at ZDNet.
His story says wireless broadband services don’t liberate users from fixed-line internet, mainly because they don’t give users meaningful amounts of data.
While Stilgherrian talks of ‘miniscule data allowances’, this needs to be seen in context. He is writing about the Australian experience. He says:
Until a few months ago, the most data that Telstra would provision onto a mobile broadband service was 15GB per month, and both uploads and downloads counting towards that quota. Optus offers a 20GB plan. Vodafone tops out at 5GB per month, although there’s the option to add extra data at $20 per gigabyte.
From this side of the Tasman, those ‘minuscule’ data allowances look positively enormous.
My Telecom mobile account comes with just 1GB of data. That’s not enough, so I pay an extra $20 a month for a second gigabyte. To get 3GB of data, I need to spend $169 a month. Data above my 2GB limit is charged at 20 cents per MB or a whopping $200 per GB.
You can buy 2GB of data each month from Vodafone NZ for $50 or add 1GB to your mobile account for $20.
On the surface it looks better at 2degrees which will sell you a 12GB data pack for $99. However, that only works in limited areas, outside of the ‘broadband zone’ it costs $10 for 100MB – that’s $100 per GB.
To be fair to 2degrees, the broadband zones cover most population centres, so if you stick the to cities, it’s not such a bad deal. Even so, while 12GB may be plenty for smartphone users, it isn’t much for a mobile laptop or tablet user looking to work free from being chained to a home or office.