Will cell phone data rates ever go down?

I can’t even think about getting a smart phone from Verizon without agreeing to paying $30/mo for data (maybe different now with their new weirdo plans). To me, data’s always been stupid expensive, and it hasn’t come down. Maybe it’s because I have zero need for it (I’m a dork who never leaves the house, thus never leaves my wifi), so I don’t know.

Texting costs have come way down since texting became a thing. I remember a time when there were roaming and long distance costs, too. Now none of that seems to be any extra cost, it’s just rolled in to your regular monthly costs.

Anyway, for those who follow these sorts of trends or are in the know - will data ever come down? Will it go up?

How much is data outside of the US? I’ve always heard we get screwed on cell costs.

I’m annoyed about this. The SOP seems to be that the carriers get to charge what ever they want to make lots of money. Fortunately, I’m grandfathered in to a $5 per month texting plan with AT&T, with 200 messages. With the iPhone’s free iMessages, most iPhone users could crop to a cheaper plan and save some money. But when that feature launched, AT&T dropped all but the $20 unlimited plan and the pay per text option. It seems that when the carrier’s revenue stream is threatened, they respond by forcing you into more expensive plans.

Why, it’s almost as if the carriers are in business to make money, and as if they will charge you as much money as they think you are willing to pay.

Telecomm infrastructure is hugely expensive and for some strange reason, has to be updated to new technology on a regular basis.

(slight hijack)

I suggest you get an iPod touch and a regular cheapo cell phone. The touch does just about everything a smartphone can do when it has wifi. Or if portability doesn’t matter, a iPad or other tablet will work fine on just wifi.

As technology (radios) improves so that more area can be covered with greater bandwidth, the rates MAY come down, but it won’t happen until customers start to REALLY squeak about it and push the major companies into a price war.

Customer rebellion against 2 year contracts and broadband VOIP is the only reason that there are as many pay as you go options available today.

NOW, if satellite broadband and cable broadband goes kaflewy (so no more competition)… then we’re all screwed on cellular based broadband, they’ll raise prices until they find the balance between number of customers vs monthly revenue.

OTOH, radios can reach over 5 miles line of sight, so if you had a friend w/low cost broadband who was willing to share, you could setup a hop with pretty good speeds for about $700 in equipment (look at millimeter wave radios). – how ever, most contracts (e.g. with cable companies) explicitly prohibit such things.

I don’t think so. Broadband internet was slow to spread because it was so expensive. It’s still just as expensive but people eventually started buying it at that price. I think cell phone data plans are similar.

There is at least one inexpensive data plan out there. I’m on T-mobile’s $30 monthly 4g pay-as-you-go plan, which includes unlimited texts and data (with up to 5 gigs at 4g speeds) with 100 talk minutes. I haven’t found a data plan yet that was cheaper than this. And it’s good internet, too. I actually tested out playing World of Warcraft over my tether last night, with very reasonable latency (~100ms).

I think we will have to see the cost per g/b drop over time, though right now it seems to be rising - and to boot those are public airwaves. Perhaps it will be like the days of early cellular where the cheapest plan was something like 30 minutes talk time. People needed more but the infrastructure was not in place at that time to deliver it. Data seems to be in that position now. If the buildout of a high speed wireless network actually gets done and with a little luck the carriers will forget their mistake that they made with offering more and more voice, hell they got to because they only see the $'s by offering more over their competition, we should see plenty of data at a fair price I’m hoping.


txting used to be cheaper, I think $0.05 per txt, now it’s $0.25 or something. With the old per txt rate. And you can chose tiers that suited your txting, now it’s a flat $20 for unlimited. So it’s ony really cheaper today for those who txt a lot.

In my experience broadband can be much cheaper than it was. I used to pay $24/month for AOL dialup about a decade ago, and now I pay $25/month for broadband. I know it can be much more expensive than that, but I could never find it for $25 several years ago.

The demand is increasing far faster than they can build out right now. The iPhone alone is causing massive headaches for AT&T. Throw in the network upgrades and it will be some time before the capacity is high enough to allow them to think about dropping rates.

But by then there will be new gadgets, new tech and another round of build out to go thru.

What is needed is large scale free/nearly free/ad supported WiFi (and I literally mean WiFi, not WiMax or some such). Some cities are trying this. You don’t need 100% coverage, just enough to satisfy the biggest demand areas. (Which is a big leg up over cell phone companies.) I suspect Google wants to do this (with ads). Data over cell phones has just too many bottlenecks and too little competition.

Both my cel phone and cable internet charges haven’t changed in years. On the one hand that’s good, I suppose. On the other, I would think over time with more people using the service they’d come up with some better options on pricing. At this point I think both are too expensive. Especially when you consider the quality of voice calls really, really sucks. It seems we have traded usability for portability. We can now make calls from anywhere, but the quality is terrible. When they aren’t dropped completely, that is.

I might be willing to try new plans (I’m grandfathered on my cel plan), except for the shady practices. When I last visited the ATT store to look at new phones I found the process stupidly convoluted.

“This phone costs $120, but after the rebate it’s only $20.”

“So I send in a receipt or something to get the rebate?”

“No, you have to sign up for a new credit card that has $100 on the account. And you have to buy a data plan. It’s mandatory with this phone.”

“Buh bye. Let me know when you get a real business plan.”

The new Verizon plans are interesting as a template for the direction of the industry. The main plan has unlimited calling and texting, period. No options on either. It’s substantially cheaper than unlimited calling and texting used to be, especially if you have multiple phones on an account together.

The only variable charge is for data service, since that’s the only service that usually still has capacity issues.

That is exactly what I have. An iPod Touch and the world’s stupidest handset from Verizon, the LG Touch.

From what I have read, the limits on cellular data is going to be spectrum availability and transmission (3G, 4G etc.) technology. That will limit the ‘supply’ of available bits - against ever increasing demand…

So, I have little hope of unlimited or large data plans at a cost similar to wired/fiber broadband.

(texting has dropped in price because it never really cost anything to provide - each text was added to ‘control’ packets that are constantly sent and which just happened to have an empty 140 byte buffer available)

The mandatory data plan has been a requirement for a while, to get the discounted price on a smartphone, but the “credit card” thing sounds odd. Sure they didn’t say you’d be reimbursed with a $100 Visa debit card?

That’s what I got for my U-Verse rebate. You don’t have to sign up for anything— it’s basically like a gift card that you can use as you would a Visa. AFAIK the only thing it couldn’t be used for was to pay for gas at the pump, but you could still pay for it inside. (Which is how I managed to get the last penny’s worth off the card, actually: checked the account balance and then bought $20.17 worth of gas, or whatever.)

The people who sell cell plans are … peculiar. They say all sorts of stuff. Perhaps in this case there was an incentive to sign people up for that plan and the agent really, really wanted to push that one. Other options went into the memory hole that day. What they say and what the truth is are two different things.

Debit card, credit card, rebate… whatever. Just sell me a goddam phone without all the nonsense. This business is starting to feel as shady as car shopping.

If you’re going to make another attempt in the future, I highly recommend only looking at no-contract/prepaid plans if you want to avoid all the BS often found in the contract plans. Particularly Tmobile prepaid, or Walmart prepaid plans (many of which are rebranded Tmobile service.)

That’s if you’re looking for smartphone plans, which I presume based on the thread topic. If you just want a regular phone-phone, look into TracFone prepaid, which is widely available, also including at WalMart.

Huh - this might be why, when we ordered Dweezil’s iPhone, the 5/month plan that Typo Knig and I have (5 apiece, gets us each 250 texts) was no longer available, the only choice was 10 dollars for 1000 texts, or 30 dollars for the whole family to get unlimited.

Also, I think it’s a crime that we pay to receive texts. If I text my husband, that eats up two message allowances.

We too are grandfathered into the 5/month plan and that’s always been more than enough; in fact for the longest time we just went pay-per-text. I’m still not certain it costs us less to have the bundle, though I expect we text a bit more knowing it’s in place.

Honestly, I think the reason our rates are so high is the whole 2-year-contract, lock-em-in syndrome. They subsidize the phone and lock us into a contract so they don’t HAVE to be competitive: you can’t leave anyway.

So when my next upgrade comes around, I’m seriously considering paying rack rate for the phone replacement (I’ve got unlimited data).