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3G Opt-Out Plans

This really *should* be a legal requirement... but I'll leave that to somebody else.
  [vote for,

Every major cellphone carrier, at least in the USA, has at least two levels of internet available: 2G and 3G. The only real difference between the two is speed, but there *is* an appreciable difference there. The problem is that most of the major carriers are currently only offering one kind of data plan: unlimited. Now, some charge different rates for smartphones and non-smartphones, but they all share one thing: they all charge all their customers the same price for 2G and 3G access. This is bullshit.

Why should they be allowed to charge customers in areas with no 3G coverage the same price as those who benefit from 3G? Home internet providers offer multiple connection speeds at different prices. Why don't cellphone providers? AT&T used to, with the launch of the iPhone 3G. The original iPhone data plan, since the original iPhone was 2G-only, cost 20 bucks a month. Still does for customers with original iPhones. iPhone 3G and 3GS data plans, however, cost 30 bucks. This is the only case of such difference, and even then the 2G plan doesn't cost less. The 3G plan raised the price. The price for 2G- only non- smartphones still costs the same as 3G-capable non- smartphones though. And for smartphones, customers aren't even allowed to cancel the data plan in areas outside 3G coverage now. They are required to pay it.

What I am calling for here is for cellphone carriers to offer lower-cost (by at least 25%) unlimited data plans to customers who do not live in 3G coverage areas or have handsets that are not 3G capable. Already, T-Mobile is nearly there with their new "even more plus" plans, which offer unlimited data for the same cost on smartphones and non- smartphones. With my proposition, If a customer chose this less- expensive plan, their account would be prevented from accessing any 3G network, in case they travel frequently to places with 3G and try to cheat the company. This would be acceptable for most customers, I think. I know I'd take it. The company that went this route would probably get a lot more business from customers fed up with paying for something they're not getting.

21 Quest, Nov 23 2009


       Definitely a rant and about a fairly trivial issue (what does it amount to, $60 a year?). And if you don't like your carrier, can't you just switch carriers? Out of all the things the the government should regulate and interfere with, this is surely pretty low on the list.

       Also, I can think of one reasons why cellphone companies don't do this: it might clog the 2G network with data (hence causing increased call drop-outs), and under-utilize the 3G network.
xaviergisz, Nov 24 2009

       There is a good parallel here in the TV license, which costs £142.50 for colour and £48.00 black and white. [+]
vincevincevince, Nov 24 2009

       Mobile operators are a funny bunch. The pricing schemes are deliberately unrelated to the actual usage - apart from when there is a cost-per-bit pricing (like when your using Internet/data and it isn't included in your monthly tariff. This is to discourage you from using it and make you pay through the nose if you do. As [xavvy] indicates, the operator will not be crash hot on you using lots of data on the 2G network. In fact, they're not going to be crash hot if everyone starts streaming video on 3G, let alone 2G.

       That's not to say that I'm not sympathetic. The thing about your proposal is that there is another level of cost obfuscation going on: what makes you think that you're paying for your 2G/3G airplan?! So much of the contract is actually a subsidy for the handset - especially with the iPhone. So the 2G/3G data plan issue, while a pain, isn't of such importance to the carrier.
Jinbish, Nov 24 2009

       You don't need to make a decision a "legal requirement" that makes economical sense as a competitive advantage.
jutta, Nov 24 2009

       Fair enough. I edited the post to remove the legal requirement aspect of it. As far as 2G towers being overwhelmed, however, that make absolutely no sense. The plan, as I stated, would only be offered to customers where there aren't any 3G towers, or don't have a 3G-capable device. Which means that there won't be any change since all those mobile users are already using 2G because it's the only thing available!
21 Quest, Nov 24 2009

       Just thought this idea seemed relevant today, what with the launch of the iPhone 4 (supposedly the best data-centric mobile device in the world) and AT&T making the decision that they're no longer offering unlimited data plans of any sort for smartphones, including the new iPhone.
21 Quest, Jun 24 2010

       I'm glad I have come back to this idea with fresh eyes (erk!?). The issue you're really talking about here is "Quality of Service".

       As a customer, you expect to get a certain "bang" for your buck. With mobile data, you might measure your bang by the speed that you get your data, and the connectivity (or coverage) that you get.

       The thing with the various data plans is that they only come in two types: £/$ per month for X data, or £/$ immediately for Y data. Notice that there isn't anything in that very simple pricing plan about coverage or any promise about speed of data?

       The real holy grail here is some kind of value system where the Quality of Service you get is matched by a pricing scheme (and vice versa). So you didn't get that 1Mb file in 20 seconds (whether 2G or 3G) - that's a default, you don't pay.

       {Problem here is that the network operator doesn't know if it failed to deliver because of poor coverage, or whether it was down to you putting your phone in a metal filing cabinet to get free data!}
Jinbish, Jun 25 2010

       This idea seems relevant today, given the pending federal decision on whether or not to allow AT&T to acquire T-Mobile USA. The reason it seems relevant is that AT&T claims they must acquire the T-Mobile network infrastructure to ease what they call a 'spectrum exhaust' problem.

       Basically what they are claiming is that AT&T has too many customers using the 3G network, which is going to start causing all sorts of pesky dropped calls and intermittent data speed. This is why they have removed their unlimited data plans for smartphones and imposed 5 GB caps on customers who still have unlimited data plans.

       Something that I always thought was neat about iPhones (and you all know my general attitude toward those devices) was that you could disable your 3G connection if you wanted to, thus locking your device to the 2G network. This generally results in increased battery life, more signal bars and fewer dropped calls. Despite the fact that every Android phone on the T-Mobile network has this same capability, only iPhones and Blackberry's could do it on AT&T's network.

       Now, with the release of IOS 5.0.1, that option is no longer available for anybody using an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or iPhone 4S. The setting has been removed from the device interface (if you have an iPhone, go to Settings > General > Network. The very top of this screen should say 'Enable 3G Off/On'. If you just updated your software, it will not). In the face of a looming spectrum exhaust scenario, AT&T is forcing yet more customers onto their supposedly already-overloaded 3G network.

       T-Mobile phones can lock out 3G. T-Mobile phones can also use any Wi-Fi network, public or private, to make calls, without use of an expensive femtocell. These capabilities ease the burden on the 3G network considerably, yet AT&T refuses to let customers opt out of 3G, and charges them $200.00 for a femtocell if they wish to utilize their home internet connection to make calls.

       Just sayin'... maybe they should read this.

       By the way, I know it's all being done to pursue an agenda. AT&T wants to force a spectrum exhaust scenario so they can go to the feds and say 'See???? We NEED to acquire T-Mobile', and in so-doing eliminate the sole remaining low-priced contract service competitor (they've already bought out Alltel and Centennial Wireless). So maybe the feds should read this, too.
21 Quest, Nov 18 2011

       If my wireless ISP can offer unlimited 7 Mb/s uncapped bandwidth for $50 per month there's no damn reason my cell phone can't do the same. There's just no competition due to government-enforced monopolies.
Voice, Nov 18 2011


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