Disrupting mobile data costs

I twittered the other day about my most recent Vodafone bill for mobile phone service that included a charge of £80 for data use.

‘Ouch’ was the polite epithet I used.

Although the costs for using a mobile phone to make phone calls are within general acceptable limits, costs for data use remain ridiculously high.

A big problem I find is the difficulty in truly figuring out the actual costs for using the phone for going online, before you go online.

Just look at this, for instance – a snapshot of some of the charges for internet use from my Nokia N95 8GB:


All of these costs relate to something I was doing on the date in question that isn’t (yet) the typical kind of activity lots of people do, but I’m sure will be soon enough – streaming live video from the phone, in this case using Qik.

In this example, I was streaming via the cellular connection not wifi because there was no wifi available.

I now think very carefully before using the phone for internet connectivity via the cellular network purely because it’s pretty expensive.

Until pricing structures change, you’re not going to see the explosion in going online from mobile devices that is just waiting to happen.

More devices are coming on the market that enable you to do just that. For instance, the Xda Orbit 2 phone from O2 that I’m trying out is all about being online.

And costs for data use are truly an extortion if you use your phone when abroad – here’s a horror story that could easily happen to anyone.

So what’s to happen? Will it be left only to the regulators to force pricing change?

Maybe enterprise will be part of the overall change, forced or otherwise.

Mike Butcher has an interesting post in TechCrunch UK about Truphone which lets you make internet phone calls from your mobile, much like you do with Skype on your PC.

There’s also the 3 Skypehone about which I’ve posted (I took part in trying out that service).

It’s not to do with data use but good news all the same.

Anything that focuses attention on disrupting the mobile telecom pricing status quo.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Stephen Davies

    Try Three, Neville. Unlimited data for £5 a month. Skype Mobile and Messenger inclusive.

    I had similar experiences with Orange until I made the switch and my bills are a lot lower since doing so. Plus, I get the impression that Three is trying to encourage adoption of the mobile web unlike some other carriers.

  2. Sarah

    I too moved to 3 when I decided that I had had enough of the huge data charges from O2. I did all the comparisons and they (at the time) had the best data deal! It’s just perfect for what I do! Works with Qik, Twitter etc… The phone I have is a small nokia smartphone and it’s not bad… doesn’t look fancy so people assume it’s old though.

    I’d love to see them getting more devices! Their customer service is good too. The best I’ve had to date.

  3. neville

    Stephen, yes, 3 has good pricing. It’s not all about price, though.

    For instance, where I live, 3’s 3G network coverage is pretty useless. That’s a total showstopper for me.

    I don’t have many issues really re Vodafone pricing for calls and texts. My price plan gives me loads inclusive and I never use them all. So I’m quite happy with my Vodafone deal.

    Data costs is the issue, though. That’s where it gets tricky in comparing different operators’ pricing. 3 may have a better data price deal (per your experience, Sarah) than O2 or Vodafone. Overall costs may be less. Yet what about roaming? They all seem pretty costly.

Comments are closed.