Verizon: Nobody Really Wants Unlimited Data Plans, And Those Who Do Should Ignore Such Silly 'Gut Feelings'

from the these-are-not-the-droids-you're-looking-for dept

As we've made repeatedly clear, consumers really like the ease and simplicity of unlimited data plans. Whether that's on fixed-line or wireless networks, users don't really like having to guess if they'll make it in under the wire this month, and don't particularly enjoy being socked with $15 per gigabyte overages should they stream a few extra songs or watch a YouTube clip. However, when you enjoy the kind of regulatory and market power AT&T and Verizon do, you don't have to give a flying cellular damn what your consumers actually want.

As such, both companies decided to eliminate their unlimited data plans entirely a few years ago, replacing them with shared data plans laden with caps and steep overages. And while both companies did grandfather existing unlimited users, they made life as uncomfortable as possible for those users, whether it was by secretly throttling them after a few gigabytes of usage or restricting their access to specific apps unless they "upgraded" to a shared, metered plan. Meanwhile, competitors T-Mobile and Sprint have tried to differentiate themselves by continuing to offer unlimited data options.

Continuing the proud tradition of telling users what they want instead of giving them what they want, Verizon this week offered up an amusing blog post in which an analyst paints unlimited data plans as a public menace of the highest order. To hear analyst Jack Gold tell it, we should all agree that you can't have unlimited data plans, because they'll obliterate the network and leave us all weeping over our smart devices:
"The quality of connection is important to wireless users, and when connections become slow or disconnections occur due to overcrowding, users become disappointed. Let’s face it, if everyone had unlimited data and used it fully, the performance of the networks would suffer because of bandwidth restrictions and the “shared resource” nature of wireless. The bottom line is: users agree that degrading the networks is something that they don’t want to happen."
If I only had a nickel every time the congestion bogeyman was trotted out to defend anti-competitive pricing and policies. While spectrum is certainly a finite resource, Gold intentionally ignores the fact that offering unlimited data plans doesn't mean idiotically ignoring all network management and letting your network implode. While both Sprint and T-Mobile offer unlimited data, they still implement network management and throttling practices that ensure traffic loads remain relatively balanced and the consumer experience remains consistent.

In other words, most unlimited data plans aren't really unlimited anyway, or users have to pay a steep premium for the privilege of not having to worry about data thresholds. That's because AT&T and Verizon dominate 85% of the special access and cell tower backhaul market, resulting in Sprint and T-Mobile (and most everybody else) having to pay an arm and a leg too. It's all quite by design.

Gold knows this, but it's apparently much more fun to try and argue that unlimited data plans decimate the fabric of the space-time continuum and rip the very axle of the universe from its foundation. Disagree? Verizon's analyst proceeds to imply you're simply being overly emotional:
"So, while unlimited data may sound attractive, there is no practical effect of data limits on the majority of users. Understanding this should bring rationality to a discussion that is often held on a “gut feeling” level. Keeping adequate speed and performance while allowing all users to share the limited commodity we call wireless data is the fair way to deal with wireless connectivity. And ultimately, that is what is beneficial for wireless consumers."
Just so it's clear, it's "rational" to support Verizon's vision of internet pricing, in which you pay some of the highest prices among developed nations, but it's a "gut feeling" should you start to desire a better value plan. It's never quite clear to me who these telecom blog authors actually think they're speaking to. Surely the goal is to influence an overarching policy discussion, but all they generally wind up doing is having their brand mocked mercilessly by news outlets for being painfully out of touch with what consumers actually want.

Filed Under: consumers, data caps, jack gold, unlimited data
Companies: verizon


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    i need more allowance, 15 Apr 2015 @ 6:39am

    Just so it's clear, it's "rational" to support Verizon's vision of internet pricing, in which you pay some of the highest prices among developed nations, but it's a "gut feeling" should you start to desire a better value plan.


    Just so it's clear, it's "rational" to want the best value when it comes to internet pricing, in which you should pay some of the lowest prices among developed nations, but it's a "gut feeling" should they desire a metric butt ton of money through fees and overage charges.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 6:45am

    Sub-Par Fees

    We know that consumers want the best service they can get for their money. Consumers don't want cell service over wifi, they want it over a cell tower. They know that if we only charged what others charged, we wouldn't be able to maintain our network, and then cell service would suffer. That is why our customers are happy paying through the nose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 6:49am

    Self-cancelling argument

    Point 1: "if everyone had unlimited data and used it fully"
    Point 2: "there is no practical effect of data limits on the majority of users."

    So, according to Verizon, the majority of users won't even come close to using "unlimited"* data. So they've just argued that unlimited data plans will not cause network overload.

    *scare quotes because there's no such thing as "unlimited" data, at least until we have infinitely fast network speeds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:30am

      Re: Self-cancelling argument

      "scare quotes because there's no such thing as "unlimited" data"

      Depends on your definition of "unlimited". In this context, it usually means that there's no monthly limit on the total amount used, not that there's no limit on the bandwidth speed at any given moment. Contextually, it really does exist, if the ISP wishes to supply it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:32am

      Re: Self-cancelling argument

      And also, unlimited data doesn't mean "all the data in the world, right this moment, down my connection, please". Would there be more data on the whole going through the network? Sure. But speed caps are still in place, are they not? And the point Gold raised about connection quality surely impacts that as well, so no need to confuse unlimited data with unlimited bandwidth.
      I'd be curious to see how network neutrality fits in their argument, though I can imagine it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:20pm

      Re: Self-cancelling argument

      So, according to Verizon, the majority of users won't even come close to using "unlimited"* data. So they've just argued that unlimited data plans will not cause network overload.

      It's not a matter of whether they will or won't use unlimited or too much data. It's a pure marketing scheme, which starts with Verizon selling you X data for $50/month.

      Next year, they'll come out with a 2X plan. Now, you never used X in the first place, mostly because the link speed is too snail-like for you to use all your limit. But you'd like to get a faster link and the only way to do that is to buy the 2X plan--which is $66/month.

      And the year after that, 3X, for $87/month; and the then the year after that, 4X for $115/month. Notice that you're still using the same data, but over a three year period, your monthly outlay has increased by 130%...a 33% increase every year.

      There's nothing more precious to a company like Verizon than being able to jack up your monthly payments by 33% a year. But the marketers don't know how to do that if the customers have unlimited plans; the company can't "double" unlimited. Imagine hearing this ad: "Verizon is giving you an even more unlimited plan..."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Susan McGuire, 26 Apr 2015 @ 3:46pm

      Re: Self-cancelling argument

      YOU I get, I had the same feelings about their rationale. Hopefully, I will be leaving them very soon. I will wuit using cellphones if Verizon is my only choice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 6:51am

    Let's face it...

    We like money.

    The bottom line: We're not about to let a potential revenue stream dissapear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 6:59am

    You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

    With Techdirt's characteristic demonizing of target to focus hate on.

    Contrast that with yesterday defending Google against the European anti-trust action.

    Clearly Techdirt loves some corporations and hates others, instead of always being staunchly for the people and against corporatism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:02am

      Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

      I think that kind of idealism is misguided. The actions of corporations are what should be judged, not merely the fact that they are corporations.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      hij (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:38am

      Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

      Being "against corporations" is not an ideal. I personally do not like the market power and many of the privacy violating practices of google. That does not imply that every action against google is something to support.

      Going after google is fine as long as it is for something they should not be doing. The problem with the actions in Europe is they do not have evidence other than "google is big." If they think that google is taking advantage of their market power then gather evidence and then go after them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:21am

        Re: Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

        The case of googles services having advantageous positions in search queries and some of their ad-networks tricks certainly warrents a much closer look.
        If Google is transparent about their SEO-priorities, they are non-biased and are given with enough advance time to implement for their competitors, there shouldn't be a problem. In case of "Google Shopping" getting priority without the ad-mark and even close to a relevant market share, it seems suspicious.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:39pm

          Re: Re: Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

          Really? Whenever I see Google SHopping, its got a "promoted' comment in the upper right hand corner....

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:48am

      Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

      Hmm, it's almost as if the site employs different writers with notably different backgrounds and insights!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

        What heresy. You clearly have no idea how Techdirt works! (irony can occur)

        When that is said, there is a common theme of attacking "the bigger evil" that often applies in Techdirts coverage. In case of Google vs. EU commission, the EU commission is in the position of power against Google due to its legislative powers. In this case sir Gold is getting attacked for defending a large corporation against public critique.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:30am

      Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

      You are comparing apples to oranges. Google earned their position in the market and remain their through customer choice. Verizion was granted a near monopoly/duopoly by the government and are abusing that position. If they truly had to compete in a competitive marketplace, we would see much higher caps, if any and much lower prices.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dan (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:19pm

      Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

      Clearly Techdirt loves some corporations and hates others,

      Only a truly blithering idiot would automatically love or hate all corporations, based solely on the fact of their corporate existence. Some corporations are good, others are bad, and still others are in between. There's nothing inherent in the corporate form to make a difference.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:41pm

      Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

      I hope you now are able to see that taking arbitrary positions on anything is not a good idea.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 5:54pm

      Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

      "Clearly Techdirt loves some corporations and hates others, instead of always being staunchly for the people and against corporatism."

      Clearly Techdirt is able to apply rational thinking on a case-by-case basis instead of taking an indefensible and intellectually stunted black-and-white position.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:25pm

      Re: You just re-wrote Verizon's position! Traffic can't actually be unlimited.

      This coming from the jackass who insists he's against rich people but will run to the defense of any corporation when it's at risk of losing money from people opting for less extravagant lifestyles. What a joke.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:08am

    The quality of connection is important to wireless users, and when connections become slow or disconnections occur due to overcrowding, users become disappointed.

    Congestion has little to do with how much data a month a customer wants, but rather how many customers want a bit of data this second.
    The worse incidents of network congestion happen when some event triggers an urgent desire for a little information, or the sending and receiving of short messages, by a lot of customers. Hurricanes, earthquakes, major accidents and the like are causes of an overcrowded network. When the majority of the customers in an area try to use the network at the same time, there will be real capacity problems. Youtube goes too choppy for comfort, go and do something else till the congestion goes away. Want to tell mum you are still alive, and you will keep trying until you get a message out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dingledore the Flabberghaster, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:14am

    how on earth???

    Let’s face it, if everyone had unlimited data and used it fully


    Wtf are you doing to use a properly unlimited data plan fully? That's a whole lot of Netflix and P##nhub.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 2:18pm

      Re: how on earth???

      Yeah.. basically steam live tv or Netflix all month. My friend averages about 35 gb month doing that instead of having cable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:02pm

      Re: how on earth???

      I think we'd probably have more issues with them having broken mathematics than the cellular network

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:22am

    My Verizon plan

    Cell Phone minutes - Unlimited minutes
    Text - Unlimited Text
    Data - Limited data

    One of these things is not like the others. By Jack Gold's logic, I should not want the unlimited cell and text, yet I do. By my logic, I want unlimited data, but I can't get it.

    So exactly what color is the sky in Verizon World?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:32am

      Re:

      Whatever color makes them the most money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dingledore the Flabberghaster, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:45am

      Just to compare to here in the backwaters that is the UK

      4G LTE unlimited (uncapped) data, 300 minutes, 3000 texts = £15 a month ($22)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Joel Coehoorn, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:22pm

        Re: Just to compare to here in the backwaters that is the UK

        That's fun to do, but it's not a fair comparison. The population desnity in the U.S. is *much* lower compared to other developed nations... 34ppl per sq km U.S. vs 263 U.K.

        This means that the number of towers per 1000 people needed to deliver service in the U.S. vs other countries is much greater, the cabling runs to support each tower are much longer, and therefore the service and maintenance costs much higher.

        This doesn't mean we're not overpaying in the U.S. (I'd love to see a study that actually compared after adjusting for those numbers!), but it does mean that this naive comparison doesn't have much value.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:41pm

          Re: Re: Just to compare to here in the backwaters that is the UK

          But if the load per tower is so much lower in the US, doesn't that work against the cell companies' argument that there's not enough bandwidth to support unlimited data plans?

          If the UK has nearly ten times the number of connections per tower, how can they support unlimited plans?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 5:04pm

          Re: Re: Just to compare to here in the backwaters that is the UK

          What John said, plus if the size and population density were the issue, the problem would not be congestion, but huge areas with no coverage.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:16am

      Re:

      It's Green... color of money

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:32am

    I use the crap out of my unlimited data and the moment I lose that is the moment Verizon loses a customer. That is literally the only thing that is keeping me on their service right now.

    And every time I talk to a Verizon rep, be they a technician or sales person, they do their damnedest to get me off the unlimited plan with promises of how much money I'll save or how much data I really use.

    And every time, I manage to blow through the 2gb warnings I have set on my phone (set so I can see how often I blow over the limit).

    I tell the Verizon person every single time: "I'd rather have it and not use it, then not have it and need it."
    I don't have to worry about overages, I don't have to worry about limiting my use...I just don't have to worry. Period. The only thing I worry about is the inevitability of Verizon ripping the carpet out from under me. Is this the day Verizon abolishes Unlimited users? Is tomorrow? Are they going to do away with it next week?

    I spend more time worrying about the company making some change that will negatively affect me than I worry about my own use of my phone and plan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:44am

      Re:

      The difference in price between my unlimited plan versus a per gigabyte plan means that paying full price for a new phone versus subsidized pricing pays off in about 3 months. I suspect that I am a major outlier as I use about 10 minutes of voice and 25-30 Gb of data per month.

      Data, even over cell, should be too cheap to meter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:03am

        Re: Re:

        I'm the same way with voice vs data.
        I use about a minute of voice a month while I use about that much data as well.
        I've never really liked talking on the phone so I'll usually either send an email or if it's a short message, a (Google voice/hangouts) text.

        If I had the option of dropping my minutes and text message package entirely, I would. My 'text' messages use data since I use Voice/Hangouts. If I wanted to make a call I'd use data as well through Skype.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        longtimelurker, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:03am

        Re: Re:

        I guess I really am the outlier. I live in a rural area with no decent is coverage. My Internet is provided through the Hotspot on my phone (verizon). There are 2 gamers who and so stream media as the primary usage, and I average 125-150 gigs per month. I can't even imagine what I'd be paying monthly if not on an unlimited plan. If you're a cable cutter and want to stream all your television then you will be paying through the nose in data overages with a metered connection.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2015 @ 6:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That would cost you roughly $1000 considering I just found out that my unlimited internet through my company is not actually unlimited and got billed $880.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dexx, 12 Jun 2015 @ 5:16pm

      Re:

      Amen! I'm in the same situation as you. I have two phones with an unlimited data plan that I've had for years. I would rather pay full price for a new phone every other year than lose my plan and the second they kill it I'm gone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 15 Apr 2015 @ 7:50am

    memories of the auto industry

    This reminds me of the 1970's, when Toyota and Honda were making inroads into the US markets. Detroit's bigwigs were loudly proclaiming that, even with increasing gas prices, US citizens wanted big, heavy, V8-driven machines, rather than the fuel-efficient compacts. They thought they could tell the market what it wanted. How'd that work out? Sure, some people want and even need a large truck or SUV, but, when you don't, a 4-cylinder with 30 MPG is nice to have.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:06am

      Re: memories of the auto industry

      I think people still want the SUVs, trucks and gas guzzlers as is apparent by the uptick in sales of those vehicles when the gas prices dropped to around $2. It's just that it becomes too expensive when the gas prices are high and rising, not lack of want.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re: memories of the auto industry

        Whether or not that's a product of marketing, I can't say.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: memories of the auto industry

          Yes, it's marketing. Most Americans who want big vehicles do so because they feel they are expressing a certain identity. They feel that way because of marketing.

          It's also interesting that there are large regional variations in the demand for large vehicles. They're ubiquitous in some parts of the country, but very rare in others.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:15am

    Very telling admission in there...

    "Keeping adequate speed and performance..."

    Their sole goal is only to provide ADEQUATE speed and performance which is to say mediocrity is the level of service they strive to provide. This is root of the most of the problems and is caused by the lack of competition in the market and the primary reason Title II regulation is not only appropriate but necessary for both wired and wireless providers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:23am

    "Nobody Really Wants Unlimited Data Plans" - Nobody being the industry that might have to lower dividend payments to shareholders if they actually built out the system to the levels it should actually be.

    "And Those Who Do Should Ignore Such Silly 'Gut Feelings'" - They should just shut up and accept the limited services we offer because their overages mean bonus checks as we rake in more cash.

    There is no real competition in any market in the US. They all offer the same things for around the same prices. They don't have to work hard for customers because they offer a service so many people have to have. This is a very common problem in the marketplace today, they no longer have to compete so there is no interest in meeting consumer demands. They are going to get paid no matter what, because most people can not/will not walk away from the abusive relationship. They have locked up the market, will fight tooth and "contribution" to make sure the rules are always in favor of killing any newcomer who wants to upset the status quo. If they had to face competition perhaps they would offer more than consumers wanted touting how much more you could do, but being more responsible to shareholder value than consumer demand is yet another sign of they could care less if you are their customer because you have no other real option and their marketshare rarely changes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:24am

      Re:

      it is going to be one of those days where I don't notice I'm not signed in...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      This is the way they always work.

      1. Abuse the market because there are no rules.
      2. Fight against regulation designed to make rules to combat the abuse as long as possible decrying that the rules will burden the market.
      3. When they can't fight the rules any longer, corrupt the process so that the rules become as big of a barrier to entry for new members to enter the space as possible.
      4. When people complain about lack of competition blame the rules that they corrupted as if they had nothing to do with that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:26am

    I still have an unlimited plan with Verizon

    Somehow, I still have an unlimited plan with Verizon, even after my phone upgrade a few months back. I am not a heavy user though, less than 4 GB in my last billing cycle. But I still want to hold onto my unlimited plan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:26am

    I think it's time we turn "verizon" into a verb.

    verizon - verb - to make false accusations and pretend they're facts; lying, dishonest, untruthful.

    Uses in a sentence:
    "Today, executives from major telecoms verizoned the Senate Subcommittee on internet freedoms when asked about their business agenda."

    Timothy, when asked by his teacher what he was holding behind his back, answered with "A toad." The teacher scolded Timothy and reminded him it's not nice to verizon people.

    Comcast told made a blatant comcast comment as it verizoned the FCC today.

    Next up: the definition of "comcast".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:26am

    Perspective

    The bottom line is: users agree that degrading the networks is something that they don’t want to happen.

    Hmm... I think what they really mean is: We agree that upgrading the network is something we don't want to happen

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Colin (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:27am

    I'm so happy to hear that I don't really want my global unlimited data plan from Verizon. I will remember that next time I'm on business in China (wait, that trip starts today) and I want to make a call back home and I'll remember the good old days when I was really happy to pay dollars per minute in extortionate roaming fees instead of a VOIP call that is free as part of my plan. I'll fondly look back on those days when I had to deal with the Great Firewall when using wifi in a cafe instead of simply calling up my Verizon data plan and bypassing the worst of the censorship. I think maybe I've been mistaken all this time. I should cancel this plan and join all the other happy users who have seen the light. But maybe I'll wait until this trip is over.......

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Brian, 19 Oct 2015 @ 7:24am

      Re:

      Colin, I have an unlimited global plan from verizon as well but have found that recently it is not working properly overseas. Ever since switching from a 3g phone to 4g, it is blocked overseas.

      how did you get yours to work properly?

      Thanks!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:55am

    Here's An Unpopular Opinion

    Well, I know that this opinion is totally unpopular here, but I'm not always in tune with the editorial drum, so here goes:

    Carriers are profit hungry, soul-less operatives who want to extract as much money from their customer base as possible. This is among the reasons they want tiered pricing. If they sell an unlimited data plan, then it should bloody well be unlimited.

    OK, not controversial yet.

    That said, I believe in tiered and capped data plans. Some of the reasons Jack Gold mentioned resonate with me, but I'm more focused on the effect caps and tiers have on data demand. The combined effect of thinking of data traffic over cellular as a scarce resource has a beneficial effect on the mobile economy. The following beneficial results follow:

    - consumers don't treat it as free. Have you ever seen how people waste food at an all-you-can-eat buffet? Ever been in a public restroom where the water tap is left open? Seen a heated store where someone has left the door open, wasting heat? Or how people finish their drinks when it's a cash bar, but they leave half-filled drinks all over the room when it's an open bar? People waste when they don't pay the bill. By capping data in tiers, people consumer what they want, what they need, but don't leave the tap running for nothing.

    - once consumers appreciate that there is a cost to data, they use it when it makes sense. There is a "cost" on the cost side of their cost/benefit analysis. The cost doesn't have to be big, but it needs to exist - because it exists in reality.

    - people often act like the carrier network is in place, so using it is essentially free. That would be kinda true if data consumption wasn't growing exponentially. The only reason we can use our phones at all is because there is continuous, rapid expansion of cellular network capacity, funded by capital investment by telcos, funded by your bill. It isn't free.

    - Once customers understand that usage isn't free, it forces other important players to start to respect the costs of network traffic, too. Main example is the app developers. I can assure you that they didn't give a rats ass about how data-inefficient their apps were in 2008. No customer gave a crap, so neither did they. Their 5-star ratings were completely unrelated to how little data the app used. But today, if an app like a weather app tries to update data every 10 minutes, it will be slammed in the reviews as "data hungry for nothing". This is good. This is the supply chain responding to the scarcity of spectrum, infrastructure, and capacity.

    So, this is not a defense of the fact that we pay too much in the US for mobile data. It is certainly not a defense of punitive overage charges (overage charges shouldn't be pricier than the main tier.)It's simply a defense in the notion of "pay more to use more" as a fair economic construct. This model has worked at the butcher shop, the gas station, the utility sector, and elsewhere. Tiers simplify the mental math.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:21am

      Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

      Well, I know that this opinion is totally unpopular here

      Probably you because you keep repeating it and in your defense of those corporations somehow seem to overlook that they are ACTIVELY trying to hinder people staying on land lines where congestion is no issue whatsoever just to milk them dry on wireless.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 9:53am

        Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

        I do not "defend those corporations". Not by a long shot.

        I defend certain business models, like charging more for using more.

        Your comment re landlines, whether correct or not, is completely unrelated to the topic at hand.

        I "keep repeating it" because I think readers here would benefit from a fair counter-assessment of the situation. It's fine to hate the telcos, but I suggest we hate them for the right reasons, and there are plenty to choose from.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:22am

      Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

      I gave you an insightful vote because some of what you say makes sense about how people treat services they see as free or nearly free. However, if expansion by companies like Verizon is SO rapid but can only barely keep up with the increasing demand if people don't ration their use of the network, then why would companies like Verizon exacerbate the problem by allowing their existing wired networks to deteriorate so that they can force MORE people onto the wireless networks? The answer is because the scarcity is manufactured.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:01am

        Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

        I'm not sure they are deliberately degrading landlines, I think they are spending lots of money to maintain. I think you will find that customers on landlines are very profitable to telcos, because that buried copper is already in place, and other than maintenance, they are just milking that capital investment.

        I can tell you that I am certain that telcos don't like the fact that landline subscriptions are shrinking. It keeps them up at night, worrying about how to stem the bleeding, or replace that revenue.

        Now, are they trying to load more customers and services on the network, even while complaining that they are constrained. Yes. That fits into the part where I wrote (and you will agree) that carriers are "operatives who want to extract as much money from their customer base as possible." Limiting each users's demand also plays into their ability to add more.

        That said, with a little more competition, the fact that users consume less data, and that it is shared among more users, SHOULD result in lower prices to you. Since competition is weak (but does exist) we only see partial results. That said, do you think that you use more data each year since 2007, or less. Do you think you pay more per MB used each year, or less? It's less -- much less. So you are capturing some of the "consumer surplus".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

      "Tiers simplify the mental math."

      I disagree. Tiers complicate the mental math. Remember the bad old days when everyone had to keep track of how many minutes they used on their cell phones? I do. That sucked big time and made using the cell phone an exercise in uncertainty.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:07am

        Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

        I remember. Tiers are quite wide tranches. And users tend to have somewhat predictable usage from month to month. Thus, we can choose the right tranche, and fairly easily fall into remaining below that cap.

        The carriers and third party apps like Mobidia also allow us to track our usage, to make sure we know where we are in our tranche for the month. SMSes are now sent to alert us to 50%, 75%, etc.

        As the market is today, do you REALLY do mental math when you are out and see an app in the store you want to download? Do you really think about whether you can download that 40MB app, or not? Of course not. Your tranche is big enough to handle it no problem. However, you may look at your monthly consumption from time to time, and decide to go up or down a tier.

        That's just not so painful. If it were fully metered, like electricity, gasoline, or water...then you might have to think "Do I download this app here, or wait unti wifi?" Tiers meant that once you choose the right tier, your data is basically already paid.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:30am

          Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

          The carriers and third party apps like Mobidia also allow us to track our usage, to make sure we know where we are in our tranche for the month. SMSes are now sent to alert us to 50%, 75%, etc.

          And that's simpler than knowing you have unlimited data?

          As the market is today, do you REALLY do mental math when you are out and see an app in the store you want to download? Do you really think about whether you can download that 40MB app, or not? Of course not.

          True, I would hardly ever even consider using 16% of my monthly data to get an app. Not everyone has big data plans, because not everyone wants to pay for them.

          If it were fully metered, like electricity, gasoline, or water...then you might have to think "Do I download this app here, or wait unti wifi?" Tiers meant that once you choose the right tier, your data is basically already paid.

          Fully metered would be worse than tiers, but that doesn't prove that tiers are better than unmetered.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Derek Kerton (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 9:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

            "And that's simpler than knowing you have unlimited data?"

            No. Never said it was.
            I said it was simpler than a meter like the gas station or your electric.

            I also said unlimited data gives perverse incentives, and people will leave the tap running like people do in public bathrooms.

            "True, I would hardly ever even consider using 16% of my monthly data to get an app. Not everyone has big data plans, because not everyone wants to pay for them."

            Good on you. Many people have shifted data use to Wifi, which is one of the correct ways people respond to incentives. They try to use the cheaper network instead of the expensive one. I personally call this an economic success story...but the telcos may not because they don't bill for the wifi use.

            "Fully metered would be worse than tiers, but that doesn't prove that tiers are better than unmetered"

            No, I used a three step logical argument:
            1- "unlimited" causes perverse consumption. Zero is a number that does strange things, in this case, stimulates wonton demand with tremendous waste built-in. We should avoid this kind of waste, so unlimited is not a good model.
            2- If we need to put on limits, ample Tiers are better than metered.
            3- The moderate competition in the industry should mean that some of the surplus generated from not wasting will go into the consumers' pocket.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 9:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

              No, I used a three step logical argument:
              1- "unlimited" causes perverse consumption.


              You demonstrated that in some other areas like drinks and water, but I haven't seen any evidence that the consumption of data under unlimited plans is actually problematic. And as for waste, nothing is actually being wasted on a marginal basis. The only possible waste is the telcos installing bigger and better equipment than they would otherwise need to.

              Are there other markets that have unlimited mobile data where it causes huge problems, or is it metered everywhere?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Derek Kerton (profile), 20 Apr 2015 @ 10:04am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

                "Are there other markets that have unlimited mobile data where it causes huge problems, or is it metered everywhere?"

                Well, even Sprint is unlimited, right here (if you're in the USA.) So that's part 2 of your question.

                For part 1:

                Perverse consumption doesn't have to lead to catastrophe.

                Assholes leaving taps running in public bathrooms just means wasted water. The local utility won't actually run out of water as a result. But it's still perverse waste.

                One result is that public bathrooms have often upgraded to either spring-loaded or sensor-based taps. It makes it harder to wash your hands, but it cuts back the waste. It's analogous to metering or caps.

                You'll also note that in cities like Sacramento, where water consumption is billed at a flat rate, per capita water use is significantly higher:
                http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_25090363/california-drought-water-use-varies-widely-aro und-state

                But on the cellular internet side, if you're looking for a global catastrophe because many people have perverse behavior with unlimited data, you won't find it. It just manifests as dropped calls, slow data, or lost packets to the rest of us. So we get our Uber request in a little more slowly.

                Not every bad thing is as swift, binary, and consequential as a guillotine. A slow sawing at your neck is also a negative.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 20 Apr 2015 @ 11:09am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

                  So Sprint should have substantially more dropped calls, slow data, and lost packets than the other networks, when controlling for other factors. Do you know if that's true?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:38am

          Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

          No argument with any of that, but I just want to point out that none of it counters my disagreement with your assertion that "tiers simplify the mental math." They don't. They complicate it. Perhaps (depending on your carrier) the added complexity isn't that much -- but it is still added complexity.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Derek Kerton (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 9:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

            Yeah. I concur that this argument is subjective, and a matter of taste and opinion.

            Some consumers may prefer metered, some tiers. (Obviously all would prefer unlimited, but assuming that is off the table.)

            But even with our limited competition, we can expect the market to respond, and give the consumers both options. In fact, the market has responded even further, and Sprint still offers unlimited.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:52pm

      Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

      Except....

      A) congestion isn't a current problem, as seen by the heavy promotion of zero rated apps. If congestion was a serious problem, they wouldn't give high-bandwidth apps the ability to get around the cap.
      B) Income from data plans is growing. meaning that 'continuous, rapid expansion' isn't growing in cost as rapidly as prices are rising, suggesting price gouging and that, again, congestion if it exists might be a created phenominon.
      C) ONce there is a per MB cost to data, Customers do not use data as often as they want to. Meaning they aren't making as much use of high bandwidth apps such as netflix, pandora, spotify, audible, ect. Now you have proof that people dont want that much data, because they aren't using that much data. and so you dont need to give me a cap big enough for everything i want to do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

        a) congestion IS a problem. If congestion weren't a problem:
        - then they would not spend tens of billions of real dollars to build out the network.
        - then they would not be talking about (and buying) het nets, pico cells, repeaters, wifi offload, additional node b, new tower sites, DAS systems, etc.
        - then they would not spend billions for new spectrum at auction
        - then they would not be upgrading 3G spectrum to 4G spectrum. Upgrading 4G LTE to LTE-A, developing 5G technologies for the future

        The premise "congestion isn't a current problem" is just wrong. I see it written at Techdirt, and elsewhere. How does that jibe with the TRUE things I listed above? Does it make sense to you that avaricious companies like the telcos are spending billions of real dollars on those bullet points, when there is no capacity problem?

        Here's why "congestion isn't a current problem" is a myth that is often believed. It's because it's true in most places, at most times of the day. But for telcos, network planning and investment revolves around PEAK LOADS at peak times of day. That's just like highways, elevator planning in tall buildings, and many other things. The amount you invest (and therefore the cost) isn't related to the usage or demand at 3am, but rather at rush hour.

        So, I'll agree that acting like 'all times are peak times' isn't correct...as long as you agree that congestion IS a problem, and drives carriers (and thus you and I) higher costs.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:32am

          Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

          Carriers are spending money on their networks, therefore the networks must be congested? I don't think that follows. It would be much more convincing to see data directly indicating network congestion.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Derek Kerton (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 9:14am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

            You don't see that following?

            Why the heck would profit-oriented businesses be spending billions on expanding their network capacity if capacity were not a major challenge? It absolutely follows.

            And if congestion is not *currently* a huge problem where you are, it is merely the result of years of this kind of investment.

            You know, you are kind of damning the carriers if they do, and damning them if they don't. I mean, AT&T fell behind on capacity growth when the iPhone data traffic surprised them, and had real a capacity crisis for a couple of years - so everyone shit on them. In response, all carriers doubled down mobile capacity investments...now you all shit on them saying there is no capacity crunch. OK, maybe not, because they raised their demand forecasts, and built out more capacity. But at peak loads, we are still constrained. And demand continues to grow.

            If you want data, here:

            http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/ white_paper_c11-520862.html

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 9:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

              You don't see that following?

              No, I don't. You said congestion is a problem. Capital expenditures don't prove that congestion is a problem. It indicates that carriers believe capital expenditures are necessary, most likely to keep congestion from being a problem, but that is not quite the same thing.

              now you all shit on them saying there is no capacity crunch.

              I'm not really saying that, I just wouldn't take a carrier's word for it.

              If you want data, here:

              I will try to take a look at that, thanks.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Derek Kerton (profile), 20 Apr 2015 @ 10:08am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

                Well, by "you all", I meant more than you individually.

                Telcos get crapped on when they underinvest, as AT&T did between the iPhone launch and 2009. They have lots of dropped calls and slow data, and earn a bad reputation.

                Then Telcos get crapped on when they DO invest, and stay ahead of rapidly growing data demand. People say "There's no capacity crunch. That's BS." Well, there IS a crunch, but you just don't feel it because they are building out networks like crazy.

                Telcos may be dicks. But to criticize them in both of the two fashions above makes the critics also dicks.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 5:42pm

      Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

      It's interesting that all your examples of the problems caused by unlimited usage are of scarce, physical products. Can you point to any examples of real problems caused by people using too much data because it's unlimited?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

        "Can you point to any examples of real problems caused by people using too much data because it's unlimited?"

        Yes. Are you kidding? That's way too easy.

        Dropped calls.
        Slow data rates.

        Done. Wanna experiment with my theory? Go to Starbucks and try the Wifi when the cafe is half full.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 11:16am

          Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

          Dropped calls.
          Slow data rates.

          Done.


          Not really enough information to conclude that capped data plans are the best solution.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Derek Kerton (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 9:22am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

            "Not really enough information to conclude that capped data plans are the best solution."

            No, I also didn't solve world hunger.

            But I did answer the question.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Luke A, 16 Apr 2015 @ 12:21am

      Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

      People often act like the carrier network is in place, so using it is essentially free. That would be kinda true if data consumption wasn't growing exponentially.

      When VZ able to bill overages at a rate of $0.0146 per MB, then I think that yes, it is essentially free. Yes, you might have some people that get into that overage by 3 MB, and end up paying the $15.00 for it, but still, if the data overage cost is less than $0.02/Mb, and they're making money on that....

      Someone's lying through their teeth, and I think it's Verizon.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:23am

        Re: Re: Here's An Unpopular Opinion

        No argument with what you wrote. Overage fees are, and have historically, been exorbitant and punitive. It's like they are punishing you for guessing wrong.

        Data is cheap, on a per MB basis. You said it, I agree. And it's getting cheaper. (But it's not free. And free does weird things to math, and demand, and consumption -- as Techdirt writes about often.) So if a user goes over their tier, they should be charged some reasonable rate for the overage.

        I have no defense for carriers charging $15 for a 3MB overage, or even worse, the rates they charge for international roaming. In fact, I'd be the first to write an article saying it's rape.

        Like this: http://www.kertongroup.com/wireless-roaming-rates-rage.html

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:14am

    If At&T and Verizon offered unlimited monthly data cellular phone service plans the terrorists would surely win.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:07pm

    Self-Contradictory

    In short, on one hand we have this:

    > "If everyone had unlimited data and used it fully, the performance of the networks would suffer"

    and on the other, we have this:

    > "There is no practical effect of data limits on the majority of users."

    This seems to prove, if anything, that offering unlimited data shouldn't be a problem for the network. If we take these statements as fact, then limiting data has no practical effect. That must surely also mean that the performance of networks does not suffer, and therefore that most people do not actually make full of use of the service all the time.

    Why, then, knowing that we won't make full of use of the service most of the time, is it so hard to offer a plan that frees us to make full use of the service at least some of the time?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:52pm

    Another excuse not to invest in upgrading infrastructure to keep up with demand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:58pm

    It is attitudes just like this that have the telcoms shaking in their boots over the places where Google is setting up fiber. People are remembering what assholes these telcoms have been in the past.

    Were I a Verizon customer, I would be marking this as a red letter day on why I'd bail at first opportunity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brian, 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:06pm

    You just can't have unlimited data on a limited network

    I am a Network Engineer and Project Manage new installations of networks. People are always duped at how things works. A typical cell tower will only have a specific sized pipe going into it. Lets say it is a 20mbps connection. Let's say that cell is serving 100 people. Speed caps and data caps are set to provide a good experience as a whole. If you let people have "all you can eat" then they will be sucking the pipe all day and all night. If everyone started doing that, then the pipe would be used up and most people wouldn't be able to get on to use that Cell Tower.

    Data isn't typically that bad if used properly. I am a very heavy data user but I opt for WiFi while at work and home. I use over 220 Gigs of traffic each month that feeds my Internet TV, Online Gaming, Work, hobbies, etc.

    The problem with "unlimited" plans is that people try to ONLY use that 1 connection for everything. When it is limited to 2-4gb, people seek out proper connections for their usage.

    I don't think I have ever went over my 2gb Cellular internet each month (but I do get close).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:56pm

      Re: You just can't have unlimited data on a limited network

      Except the plan is to remove landline unlimited data too. And if Congestion is a problem, Zero-rated high bandwidth apps wouldn't be a thing

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:33am

        Re: Re: You just can't have unlimited data on a limited network

        "Except the plan is to remove landline unlimited data too"

        A different subject (not entirely, but more or less).

        "And if Congestion is a problem, Zero-rated high bandwidth apps wouldn't be a thing"

        Here's how that works. The carriers want to make money per MB. People are already using Pandora, Spotify, and Periscope.tv. When they do so, they are using non-optimized feeds of such, and the carrier is cut out of the revenue stream.

        If the carrier zero-rates, say Pandora, then they work with Pandora to distribute it into their phones, they work to "optimize" the data rate (read: make it shittier for you), and they take a rev share on the ad revenue for Pandora in return for the distribution. Thus, even though "zero rated" they make more money on that Pandora service than they would if they had done nothing.

        By promoting Pandora, they also limit the user's desire to try another service, say Spotify, which isn't optimized. The net effect can actually be a reduction in data traffic, with a share in the music service's revenues. So, it shows how even if "congestion is a problem", zero rating can be a thing.

        BTW, I'm not arguing in favor or against zero rating here. I want to stay focused. I'm just explaining to you how it makes sense to some carriers, and is unrelated to congestion.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 11:21am

          Re: Re: Re: You just can't have unlimited data on a limited network

          they work to "optimize" the data rate (read: make it shittier for you)

          Tempted to give you a funny vote just for that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 2:16pm

      Re: You just can't have unlimited data on a limited network

      "A typical cell tower will only have a specific sized pipe going into it. Lets say it is a 20mbps connection."

      That's an easy thing to fix: stop running laughably puny pipes to the towers. 20mbps is ridiculously small.
      If the cell company's concern was to provide adequate service to customers rather than maximizing profit, then wouldn't it make more sense to install adequate infrastructure rather than punish customers?

      "If you let people have "all you can eat" then they will be sucking the pipe all day and all night."

      A tiny percentage will. Most people won't. At least, that's the behavior we see with current unlimited plans.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:43am

        Re: Re: You just can't have unlimited data on a limited network

        "That's an easy thing to fix: stop running laughably puny pipes to the towers. 20mbps is ridiculously small."

        And THAT is really f'n easy to say when it's not your job. It turns out that it is NOT an easy thing to fix, and an entire industry sector is dedicated to solving the backhaul challenges.

        Best, of course, is fiber to the tower. But most towers aren't so lucky to be near a fiber run. So the fiber can be extended, but that's expensive trenching -- which is being done for many towers.

        Next best is to pay some telco to backhaul your tower. For example T-Mo pays AT&T all over the country. But that is not cheap, and you can guess how great the AT&T service is for T-mo.

        Next best is point-to-point wireless solutions, using directional beams. Dozens of technologies have been used here, from Free Space Optics, to wimax, to millimeter wave, in-band, out-of-band, mesh, yada yada. The problems here are throughput is a function of range, and throughput can be degraded by fog, rain, birds, etc. And latency is introduced. And if the signals have to hop multiple towers in a chain or mesh, some towers have to carry multiple towers worth of traffic and become a bottleneck. In cities, sight-lines, multipath and interference are a huge problem.

        Sorry. Not easy. Not at all. You can't armchair quarterback this shit. Building a network is actually very hard. And keeping up with data demand is also hard, as AT&T was kind enough to demonstrate when they first got the iPhone in 2007. We don't have to shed a tear for the carriers. They take a big pound of flesh to do the job. But don't tell me it's easy.

        Also, not cheap. So, carriers are CONSTANTLY upgrading their tower backhaul, and it costs money. They do it primarily because data demand is growing...which is why we pay more if we use more data.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 1:28pm

          Re: Re: Re: You just can't have unlimited data on a limited network

          "Next best is to pay some telco to backhaul your tower."

          Excluding the smaller players, the wireless companies are the telcos, are they not? So they're paying themselves.

          "So, carriers are CONSTANTLY upgrading their tower backhaul, and it costs money."

          This is where the problem is. When you're running a comms line somewhere, the expense is in the actual installation (digging the trenches, stringing the cable, etc.) The capacity of the cable itself is a relatively minor expense. So, rather than constantly upgrading their cabling, they should just bury a bundle of high capacity cabling (such as fiber -- even if they can't connect up to a fiber trunk right away) that greatly exceeds what the tower needs at the moment. Then capacity upgrades become a matter of swapping out the transceivers at each end of the cable -- a relatively cheap thing to do.

          This is an attitude problem that telcos have had since before the internet existed: they only want to run enough cable capacity to cover what they immediately need, and that makes future capacity increases much more expensive. So expensive that there have been many cases where communities have been underserved as a result.

          I have exactly zero sympathy for the companies on this point. I don't think I need to give them any allowances for being so shortsighted.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Derek Kerton (profile), 17 Apr 2015 @ 8:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You just can't have unlimited data on a limited network

            "Excluding the smaller players, the wireless companies are the telcos, are they not? So they're paying themselves."

            No. They are paying other telcos. Look at my example. T-Mo, with no fixed infrastructure, pays many other Tier 1 carriers for transport. Of course, for the big two, they can do more of their own backhaul, but even AT&T and Verizon will find themselves buying backhaul from local and regional telcos like CenturyLink, or others.

            "So, rather than constantly upgrading their cabling, they should just bury a bundle of high capacity cabling"

            OK, but much as you may hate them, the telcos aren't that stupid. They DO bury cable with capacity planned for the future. It's just that until year 2000, there was no concept that a cell tower would need this much backhaul, so that whole installed base of towers is copper-connected. Copper does cost a lot, so just an adequate amount was buried for the envisioned growth of voice traffic.

            Of course today they would only bury fiber if a new trench is dug.

            "they only want to run enough cable capacity to cover what they immediately need"

            Nope. Wrong. They just do a cost/benefit analysis, as any profit-minded business would do. And consider this normal case:

            You build a cell tower with copper infrastructure from the local incumbent carrier 500 yard away. The nearest fiber run is 2 miles away. Do you bury copper for 500 yards to meet expected traffic and growth, or do you trench the 2 miles to run fiber for any possible future eventuality?

            The choice is clear and obvious. People should not armchair quarterback this shit without understanding the real history, facts, challenges, investments, and capacity planning of the industry.


            "I don't think I need to give them any allowances for being so shortsighted."

            There were just not that many people prior to 2000 who envisioned the mobile Internet as it is. Few businesses would have invested in fiber to the tower at that time, especially given the much higher cost-per-tower capital expense.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:15pm

    the real question is

    the real question is...Why Verizon would pay/allow this guy to write for them? I mean take one look at his site and you know all you need to know about his level of expertise in the field of technology.

    Perhaps you don't want to judge the book by the cover, well then look at his reports and judge for yourself... nothing but insightful eyegasms to behold.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 3:40pm

    il

    No cell phone for two years this May. Got tired of being sodomized by various wireless corporations and not even getting kissed. Sheep will do what sheep will do, but you don't have put up with the wolves if you don't want to. If anyone knows where I can get a pager I might consider it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 15 Apr 2015 @ 4:39pm

    You misunderstand. When they say that nobody wants unlimited data plans, they're talking about service providers, not their customers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 5:14pm

    To hear analyst Jack Gold tell it, we should all agree that you can't have unlimited data plans, because they'll obliterate the network


    Seriously, the exaflood again? Didn't we bust this myth already? The end of the world that's always right around the corner but never comes. Tell me another one, Netradamus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shane, 20 Jun 2015 @ 6:51pm

    Unlimited data rules !

    Got an iphone 6 plus on sprint unlimited and love it !
    Used 22 gigs so far and months not over
    Plus my apt is a verizon deadzone and my phone works flawlessly there
    Hey verizon can you hear that now ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Cumbee, 20 Jul 2015 @ 3:26am

    unlimited data

    Whoever wrote that nonsense is full of dung...It has already been determined that there is no lack of data capability...
    Verizon is playing out a plan that has been in place for years. They are really doing in their rural customers with
    a 30 gig for 120.00 plan that never really seems to truly del;iver 30 gbs. It is stationary 4G equipment, and I get less
    usage than I did wioth an old 20gb 3G plan. They are basically taking over the internet so that they may overcharge
    people. If people dont really need unlimited then they should have no problem offering that as it wont get used much more than they currently use it right? So there should be no problem with offering a service that people wont need or use.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jxsilicon9, 8 Aug 2015 @ 4:25pm

    The main reason is US companies need to stop lying and nickel and diming. US ISP throttle and put in data caps while advertising high speed,unlimited,etc. US needs to invest in its infrastructure Countries like Japan lead in mobile infrastructure and South Korea in fast speeds. Because they decided over a decade ago that internet is important and the government should back it. So speeds are fast.Google Fiber and Lusfiber offers the fastest internet speeds in the US. Lusfiber is a public utility.You get 1Gbs for $70 a month with no data caps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nicole, 20 Oct 2015 @ 11:14am

    I rent unlimited data

    I rent out unlimited data plans for Verizon. Not capped or throttled, and truly unlimited. I use this service for our household as well. I also sell the devices too. If interested, send me an email. southsidedata@gmail.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    shawn mccool, 31 Dec 2015 @ 10:33am

    data speed

    unless ur getting 00-99 mbps nothing els will work so that said if u have a 300 mps
    ur not getting the speed u need for example.: u playing on ps4 ur data is 300 that mean it takes 300 sec to get from ur console to PLAYSTATION NETWORK. and back ...way to long (5 min)
    To the person ur ps3or 4 net work and then back 10 min time. who want to wait 10min on a game to play

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kyle Mann, 14 Jan 2016 @ 10:03pm

    Unlimited AT&T

    AT&T brings back unlimited with bundle plan about 5 days ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wireless Network Singapore, 19 Sep 2016 @ 10:09pm

    VPS provider in Singapore

    If you are prepared to take risks I guess the working internet will not make any harm to small business organization. Though some of the points mentioned can give an idea to take precautions in future.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kathy, 9 Oct 2016 @ 8:26pm

    verizon

    VERIZON is way too expensive.....I wish there was a plan that would fit my need.....I can't use my laptop because of this..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.