Having The New York Timesas my homepage forces me to look at the headlines, and one of them this past week was in the Technology section entitled, “Days Are Numbered for Unlimited Mobile Data Plans” by Kevin J. O’Brien.
I am ashamed to say that my heart rate increased a bit as I read through this article, which stated how it was possible that wireless phone service providers may stop offering unlimited data plans to its customers and instead charge customers for “a new way of charging for mobile data that will be much more exact, down to the kilobyte, and often tied to the destination of the Web browser.”
It first got an unlimited texting plan during my years as an upperclassmen in high school and then received my first unlimited data plan which included internet browsing and text/picture messaging on my BlackBerry when I entered college. I did not think of the expenses and inconveniences I contribute to the rest of mobile device users with the “all-you-can-eat” mentality when it comes to data usage. I only think of my own comfort and convenience and forget that it was absolutely fine for me to go days without browsing the Internet while walking to class or easily carry my internet browser with me as I did small errands. While I think users should contribute a bit more to their phone plans for the amount they use, I think it might be very ridiculous to charge users for their data usage down to the kilobyte. I know as a student at Rutgers, I am dependent on my BlackBerry’s internet browser to refresh NextBus.com for me every time I am at a bus stop so I know how long I should wait for a bus. It becomes incredibly useful for me and while it is not necessary for me to use at every bus stop, there are still quite a few stops which do not have marquees telling the arrivals and depatures of the various Rutgers buses. Having NextBus refreshing itself in my hand makes me feel a sense of comfort and progress when I am waiting at bus stops without marquees. NextBus also utilizes text messages to inform bus riders of arrivals and departures as well, but that is still included in data usage. If I were to get charged for every second my browser is up waiting for NextBus to refresh and give me transportation information, I believe my phone bill would amount to an unrealistic cost.
Having plans that are not “all-you-can-eat” data plans for mobile devices might be able to make a user realize how wasteful and dependent he/she is on the internet, but there should be a reasonable price attached to this usage which is both realistic for a user to pay each month but also amounts to something feasible for the company to keep itself running.