5 gig limits, .99 cent sales and the future

I am sick of wireless companies saying a 5 gigabyte data plan is “enough for most regular users”.


Here’s a perfect example. Electronic Arts and Gameloft are having a .99 cent sale on the iTunes store this weekend. Let’s say I want to spend $10 and get the top 10 iPad games that are .99 right now. The top 10 .99 cent games are…

  • Monopoly – 69.3 MB
  • NBA Jam – 249 MB
  • Battleship – 17.7 MB
  • Scrabble – 15.2 MB
  • Asphalt 6 – 505 MB
  • N.O.V.A. 2 – 504 MB
  • Need For Speed Hot Pursuit – 431 MB
  • LIFE – 13.8 MB
  • Transformers Dark of the Moon – 116 MB
  • Battlefield Bad Company – 265 MB

For $10, I would be downloading a little over 2 gigs (2, 186 MB). That smokes about half of my 5 gigabyte data plan right there.

But let’s say I had a $20 bill burning through my pocket and I wanted the top 20 .99 cent games on the iTunes store. The next 10 are…

  • Dungeon Hunter 2 – 467 MB
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 – 259 MB
  • FIFA 11 – 1.24 GB
  • Dead Space – 427 MB
  • Tetris – 29.8 MB
  • Yahtzee – 18.3 MB
  • RISK – 21.3 MB
  • StarFront Collision – 605 MB
  • Sim City – 93.1 MB
  • Madden NFL 11 – 327 MB

For the top 10-20 games on the iTunes store, that would mean I would have to download over 3 gigs of data (3,487.50 MB).

To sum up, spending $20 for 20 video games for the iPad would also mean burning through a total of 5,673.5 MB, which is slightly beyond a 5 gigabyte wireless data plan “for regular users”.

With Verizon and AT&T putting data caps in their DSL and cable plans, I expect to see similar 5 gig plans as the “limit for regular use” coming soon to every internet plan regardless of connection medium.

So my question is, who exactly defines “regular use?” The gatekeepers collecting the money? The top four companies who provide internet access to the US? Ah, no, that’s not a good idea at all.

There simply MUST be a national average that is ADJUSTED over time that is set as a national benchmark. Think of the pricing of natural gas as an example. The rates vary per usage and per quantity delivered. The rates are fixed based on a true usage average and amount of supply available.

The internet is not a supply based medium that requires delivery and transportation (in the semi-truck to a warehouse sense). The only thing the internet takes up at a telco is a room full of computers. So logically, the only thing to determine is the true national data usage average as defined by the data use by individuals.

How hard would that be? Take the data use form the top 4 companies that provide internet access to the US. Divide the data usage by the number of users. Bam. There’s your target average for the next calendar year. Call that number the new “national average” and move on.

Of course the telcos will bitch and complain to high heaven about this. How dare we want a reasonable opportunity to have fair internet access? How dare we want a connection plan that adjusts for leaps and bounds in technology and education?

I hate to say it, but congress will have to get involved with this one. There just isn’t any way I can think of to ask for a modern telco company to do this on their own.

So the next step is finding a member of congress who understands the internet, who doesn’t mind pissing off all the major telcos, and can present this in a comprehensive bill to their peers.

Wish me luck, kemosabe. I’m going in.

[EDIT 07/03/11 : I am not in favor of government regulation of the internet. I am not in favor of government mandated tiered pricing or of tiered pricing in general. I do believe the current “data caps” are a scam from the telcos to squeeze money from consumers the same way the old style long distance charges were for land lines. (Why are long distance calls free on wireless phones and not on land lines anyway?) The infrastructure for internet data access is already in place. I truly wish for a return to the “drink from the fire hose” unlimited internet access from a few years ago, but I would compromise on a a sensible pricing plan for a reasonable amount of monthly data access. $10 for 30 gb of data is a baseline for what I have in mind. Putting a limit in internet access through exorbitant pricing is like saying you can only have so much electricity per month because it costs $500 per kilowatt hour. Make the pricing for internet access more realistic and let us, the consumers, decide what is “enough for regular usage”.]

[EDIT #2 07/03/11 : When (not if) data caps for internet use hit all the DSL and cable internet access subscribers, I  can guarantee all the “free WiFi” access will dry up inside of a year. No more open WiFi for neighbors to share when they’re costing you $200 a month in overage fees. No more mom-and-pop WiFi coffee shops when it is a direct hit to their bottom line every month. The only “free WiFi” access points I think will remain once this cap is in place will be the state sponsored WiFi (if there’s any available in your area) or from retail locations that have worked out a special corporate hosting-data management package deal with their internet providers. Seriously!]