While my piece about iPhone data plans brings you the disturbing imagery of Telstra’s Sol Trijillo bending over for Steve Jobs, Mark Pesce’s iPhail is blunt about telcos’ data plans and offers another possibility — creating our own data-friendly telco.
Mark reckons all three carriers offering iPhone have completely failed to recognise the pent-up demand for the device, and the way it will change network usage.
A typical example is Optus’ plan (general consensus holds that Optus has the most generous plans of the three carriers), which provides a maximum of 1GB of internet usage per month — for a hefty $179.
Let’s run some numbers here. The front page of the Sydney Morning Herald clocks in at just about a half a megabyte. That’s fat, but also fairly typical. The widespread deployment of broadband has lead to a proliferation of media-rich pages. Now, if I hit the SMH page (or a similar site) sixty times a day, I’d reach my 1GB cap. Add in any Google Maps activity, or push email, or what have you, and the figure could easily double. Now, instead of $179/month, I’d have that bill plus potentially hundreds of dollars in data charges.
On the other hand, if I wanted to buy 3G mobile data service for my MacBook Pro from Optus, they’d give me a cute little USB dongle with the Hauwei 3G/HSDPA modem and SIM card, plus 5GB of data — and it would cost me only $39.99 a month.
Have I missed something here? After all, data is data. The network usage for the dongle is completely indistinguishable, as far as the network is concerned, from the iPhone 3G.
Mark’s conclusion is that there’s an “iPhone tax”.
Not only are we asked to pay a premium to purchase iPhone 3G, we will also be paying a premium to receive every bit of data on iPhone 3G.
The solution, he says, is to start our own MVNO, or Mobile Virtual Network Operator.