Mobile Broadband, Since When Did Data Become So Expensive?


For over a year now I have owned a MiFi from 3. At first I intended for it to be used on a daily basis, as a way of keeping connected on the move, however when the required task couldn’t be completed on my iPhone, WiFi has been readily available at either University or at home allowing me to use my iPad without forking out for an additional data plan.

The times when I have needed to use my iPad when out have been few and far between, meaning that the most economical way has been to purchase a daily allowance from O2 giving me 200mb of data for a nominal fee of £2.

With the areas I visited most covered by free WiFi I have enabled data on my iPad a handful of times since it was purchased, and only used my MiFi time times of emergency internet outages.

As described in my original blog post, I am one of those people who have fallen in love with the internet. In fact so much so that the idea of being disconnected from the world is a thought that really does fill me with dread. Everything is done online, with ordering a birthday card for your grandmother, to finding a local rate number to avoid paying premium call charges; very few people today rarely give an always connected broadband a second thought, until it goes down. Therefore I have always made sure that no matter where I am based for an evening, I have at least two of my three internet enabled devices; iPhone, iPad and MiFi.

Broadband, just like any utility can suffer outages, which has been the case in my student house today. I am moving out on Friday so whilst it would be nice to have it fixed im not going to lose too much sleep over it. The reason being is that I could still remain connected either via my iPhone, iPad or dust off my MiFi.

I started weighing up my options. My iPhone whilst it does have 3G connectivity already paid for under my current contract, using twitter browsing the internet and replying to emails on such a small screen for a few days would be quite a challenge; especially as I am used to using a 27-inch iMac with duel display. The iPad was discounted at this point for similar reasons, with the addition of it meaning me have to fork out additional cash to purchase data. The only option was my MiFi.

This is where the fun began, connecting my iMac to the MiFi was easy. My iMac found the WiFi signal and all I had to do was select the MiFi rather than my Airport Extreme base-station and I was cooking with gas. The reason for purchasing my MiFi from 3, was that last year credit didn’t expire, and the data you had purchased remained until used, the perfect deal for someone who would use the MiFi once in a blue moon. I purchased 1GB of data a year ago, and had approximately 50mb remaining when I switched on this morning. An hour later my connection went dead, as to be expected really, so a quick phone call to 3 technical support to activate an additional £10 worth of credit (already stored on my account) gave way to a mixed bag of emotions. First was relief that I had got through to someone who was happy to help and easy to understand (he wasnt based in a UK call centre, but still two out of three isnt too bad), second was anger. I was now told that whilst the cost of data hadnt gone up, any data not used within 30 days would expire!

Personally I think this is a very cleaver ploy by the network providers, they offer you data packages which work out rather cheap on a £/mb basis, knowing full well that the average user will use around half of their allowance in the time frame given, in affect doubling their profit.

For example 3 offer 1024mb of data for £10.49, costing 35p a day, not a lot by anyones standards. However if you only use half of your data for that month, it wont be brought forward, if you use half of your allowance it costs 70p a day, and if you only use a quarter of it you are set back £1.40 per day, not as cheap as it first looks.

Is there any reason why my data should expire after a given time? I don’t think there is, it is not perishable and as I am charged based on usage the networks cant claim that by one person using 2gb is affecting the experience of others, as its a service that is being specifically paid for by one party, and not the other. Surely if I pay for data, I should be allowed to use that data, and not subject to time restraints and be pressured into using it prematurely.

We in the UK live in a 1st class technological country, the cost of gadgets are getting lower, however the costs to run them are increasing. In the case of mobile technology, mobile phone contracts may not have increased in price significantly, however for the same price the service you receive will have decreased. Looking at mobile broadband, it was once ‘unlimited’ data for all, however things then changed with data being capped; now not only data being capped, but given a timeframe of which it is to be used or it will be forfeited. Once again the technology of a 1st world country is being priced at 3rd world prices.

A Snap Shot Of Prices Currently Charged For PAYG Data, How Can Networks Get Away With Charging Such Prices In A 1st World Country?!

A Snap Shot Of Prices Currently Charged For PAYG Data, How Can Networks Get Away With Charging Such Prices In A 1st World Country?!