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The UK's 5-Minute 4G Data Cap

timothy posted about a year ago | from the better-be-some-great-youtube dept.

The Internet 261

Barence writes "The tariffs have been announced for Britain's first 4G network and they include a data cap that customers will break within five minutes. EE's high-speed data service will start from £36 a month — or £21 a month SIM-only — although the lowest package's 500MB download limit might put data-focused early adopters off. With EE claiming average network speeds of up to 12Mbits/sec, that means users could theoretically exceed their cap in just over five minutes of full-speed downloads — or a little over ten seconds a day. There are no unlimited data deals."

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Mobile bandwidth (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#41740469)

So, guys... how's that whole "Let the market decide" argument working out for you? Capitalism works great for non-critical, non-infrastructure goods and services... but when it gets its hands on something everybody needs, it's gonna take you to the cleaners. Every single time.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (5, Funny)

Quakeulf (2650167) | about a year ago | (#41740493)

Introduce competition.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (3, Insightful)

Racemaniac (1099281) | about a year ago | (#41740519)

because we've seen in the past that the "competitors" wouldn't ever dare to make deals to keep the prices artificially high

Re:Mobile bandwidth (4, Interesting)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year ago | (#41740799)

Also considering the initial startup costs, just to break in would be very difficult.
Cell towers are not cheap, nor the network wot support them.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#41741005)

Government/oligopoly partnerships working as designed. I see no problem here. If you keep complaining we'll just have to give you a little more indoctrination about how great "free markets" are. Of course you have never seen a real free market in your life, but that's besides the point.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741281)

Check out Somalia's model for a "real free market"

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740821)

s/competitor/cartel-member/g

nice try. but no cigar.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (2)

aicrules (819392) | about a year ago | (#41741215)

There is nothing artificial about a price that enough people will pay to make it worthwhile to the company providing the services/goods for sale. A free market doesn't work on the principle of one person or even a few people whining about the price of a service setting the price lower. Yes, if you don't like a price point and also cannot afford it, but enough other people can afford it and pay it, your poor little plight will not directly impact free market. Heck, even when there are NOT enough people who want to buy a service or good to make it profitable for a company that doesn't mean it will IMMEDIATELY be reduced in price. Free market doesnt' mean instant gratification, even for a super majority. It still beats ACTUALLY artificial prices being set by "societal needs" and other such B.S.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (5, Informative)

Phrogman (80473) | about a year ago | (#41740587)

Here in my part of Canada, there is no competition. Oh there are companies that are theoretically competing with each other, but they seem to have agreed that charging outrageous prices is working for all of them so why fuck with it. No one is offering cheap, efficient service to the masses. Competition does not work when the service or item in question is more or less essential, and the barriers to entry are significant.
The CRTC here in Canada just seems to rubberstamp what the industry tells them to do.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (2)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | about a year ago | (#41740823)

That's all of Canada.

Robelus can eat my ass and the CRTC is a joke.

Example: Rogers' best Internet plan is $130/mo. 250G of data. You will exceed that in less than 5h at full speed.

Fucking assholes.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741007)

Out in my little corner, I have ElectronicBox, which offers 5 Mb/s speeds staring at 250GB cap for 35$, adding 7$ to bump it up to unlimited.
Been trying to convince my parents to switch ever since I found that one out, but noooo, 40 years loyal to bell, etc etc.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#41741331)

Rogers' best Internet plan is $130/mo. 250G of data.

I doubt you need 250GB of data on your phone per month, or even per year. I'm not saying you couldn't use it. I'm saying you don't need it.

You will exceed that in less than 5h at full speed.

7.5 hrs by my calcs, but even that is unlikely. I doubt the average user would be able to exceed that cap in under 24hrs even if they tried as getting maximum theoretical peak speed for a sustained 250GB burst is just not going to happen.

But that's beside the point. Mobile data caps on the top end plans is like those "free gas for a year" prizes. Its far more than enough gas for the average commuter in the average car.

But some slashdotter will cry foul because in a Veyron at 250mph driving 24hrs a day he'll be out of his "free gas for a year" in under a week.

Think of it as the networks are selling you 250GB/mo for $130, at the maximum speed they can deliver it, because that's the real deal on the table.

If you don't find that to be good value then don't buy it, but I'm curious how you rationalize that you should somehow be entitled to "all you can possibly consume", especially seeing as they haven't promised you 'unlimited' anything.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#41740861)

Competition does not work when the service or item in question is more or less essential, and the barriers to entry are significant.

4G service *is not* "essential". Desirable perhaps, but not essential.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (2)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#41741021)

4G in and of itself might not be an essential class of service but it is fair to put it under the umbrella of "internet" and internet is essential.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741337)

Especially in small towns. Do people really expect a ISP to add 15 multi-million dollar transmitters? No, they'll add one, maybe two and charge a lot because there's not much of a demand for it. 10,000 residents in a canadian town does not equate to getting the fun tech like in silicon valley or a big city. If you want a different lifestyle than what you have, move to a place that provides you with the things that you supposedly "need".

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

neonKow (1239288) | about a year ago | (#41741339)

I disagree. It's quickly getting to the point of becoming essential. Yes, we're used to using 3G for now, the internet is already starting to evolve with the expectation that mobile users will have access to 4G type speeds, just like we survived a long time on dial-up connections for the PC, but these days, the vast majority of sites most people visit (gmail, twitter, google, facebook, pinterest, youtube, hulu) rely heavily on images, videos, and AJAX calls that just don't work very well without a solid, high-bandwidth connection.

Government regulations need to be ahead of the curve if they want to keep telecoms from exploiting consumers. Well, exploiting more than they already are.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41740605)

Do we have any evidence that competition in such fields works as it normally does?

Judging from the US mobile market I have to say it does not look likely.

Real competition would have to be regulated into existence. Force compatibility of technology and radios, force cross network compatibility and legislate costs for using other networks. We would probably also have to set a maximum subscriber count or region limits. Might even be easier to just make the actual gear owned by a non-profit and let the profit seeking enterprises act only as MVNOs.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740737)

Real competition would have to be regulated into existence.

Hahahahahhahahaha how could that possibly go wrong...

Maybe its just really fucking hard to run a fast, nationwide wireless network that caters to high-availability voice users as well as opportunistic data users? Ever thought of that?

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#41740625)

I'm a bit confused on what the tax has to do with the data caps?

I sympathize that the caps are too low, but what does that have to do with tariffs? Is the govt not only taxing the 4G connection, but regulating the cap amounts too with said taxes being levied?

Re:Mobile bandwidth (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#41740637)

In this case, UK English, tariff is not referring to a tax. The "tariff" is what americans would likely call a cell phone "plan".

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about a year ago | (#41741239)

That's pretty close to correct.

Also, here in the US, you will find the word "tariff" used to describe the legal documents that define such a plan. The term is used in the utility and insurance industries, at the very least.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740677)

Competition is fundamentally limited by the combination of very high start up costs (infrastructure becomes a sunk cost) and very low marginal cost (once the towers are all built, running them is cheap). Railroads, power lines, and wire/fibre based telecommunication share these traits and historically demonstrate a tendency towards monopoly/duopoly structure.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | about a year ago | (#41740691)

While that works, part of the problem in modern society is the cost involved in starting up a competitive business. Most of the tenants of capitalism were thought up when the largest companies around would qualify as a small business by modern standards. The industrial revolution saw the rise of megacorps and the problem has continued to rise into the digital age. It costs a fortune to start a telecom company to compete with an existing one - not quite the same as wholesaling your apples for less than the competing cart next door.

What the solution is I'm not sure, but I think it will eventually have to involve government ownership of some of the very core services or at a minimum some rather strict regulation. We already have that with some things - where I live the power generation is handled by a government entity (Santee Cooper - a SC state agency), as is water and sewer services. Ambulance/911, law enforcement, and military are already handled by the government. Its just a matter of deeming telecommunications a critical public service.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#41740769)

Introduce competition.

When a capitalist says this, it's a hand wave. They're dismissing cost of entry into the market. And let me explain to you why cost of entry matters in telecommunications (or for that matter, any infrastructure industry)... First, limited resources. You need access to land to run cables. If you're wireless, you need to negotiate for spectrum. Both are controlled by someone else. And the law says they don't have to sell to you at a competitive price -- or any price, for that matter. They choose whether you get in the door or not... and they may just choose to charge you an arm and a leg. Municipalities sign exclusive contracts saying only your competitor can run cables in that area for a period of 5, 10, 20, even 50 years. Why, you ask? Because those companies tell the municipality if they don't agree, they won't do business with them. "Too risky. Need to protect our investment," they say.

And then there's spectrum. It's not all equal -- and how well your network does wirelessly still depends on finding land to put your towers up. Again, exclusive contracts -- they'll fuck you every time. You can't just ask J. Random home owner to host your tower.. he'd probably love the income, but the government has zoning regulations... oh, and exclusive contracts.

In fact, in every case where capitalism has failed in an infrastructure capacity, it's for that reason: Exclusive contracts. Exclusive rights. Exclusive. Not inclusive. Inclusive means competition, and we don't want that. Exclusive means "protected investment"... and "protected investment" means... you, the consumer, are gonna pay a premium. Not them, not the guys who forced you down this road. You. Because their money is more special than other people's money. Their money has a government stamp of approval.

So the next time you hear a capitalist say "induce competition," remind them that they're the ones that asked for the exclusive contracts. Afterall, it's good business, right? And for them... it is.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0)

Bigby (659157) | about a year ago | (#41741063)

Yet you seem to be overlooking cost of entry. That is precisely why they are charging so much. And if they charged enough to make huge margins, a venture capitalist would create a new company to get a piece of that easy money. Without collusion or fraud, you then get the costs down to a healthy margin to make the business successful, employment stable, and providing a service to customers at an optimal price.

Or you could take that money from people at gunpoint or handcuffs (tax) and build an infrastructure at public expense (subsidy) and provide really low prices for the same service. But that makes cell phones the winners and will prevent alternate competition from entering the market. Like satellite phones or entangled particle phones or wormhole phones.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#41741221)

So the solution to exclusinve contracts from regulation is.... more regulation.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (5, Insightful)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#41741257)

So the next time you hear a capitalist say "induce competition," remind them that they're the ones that asked for the exclusive contracts. Afterall, it's good business, right? And for them... it is.

Which is why capitalists neither vote nor support libertarian candidates, preferring to go with some of the big government parties, not caring much whether it's right or left-leaning. Libertarianism, with all that talk of deregulating markets, undoing legislation, removing trade barriers, eliminating subsidies etc. is quite scary for them. It's way, WAY easier to "make a deal" with a handful of high level bureaucrats and a few very friendly mega-corp CEOs, all working together to lock down the market into a de facto monopoly, than to deal directly with hundreds of millions of customers and thousands upon thousands of competitors.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#41740507)

"The tariffs have been announced for Britain's first 4G network and they include a data cap"

I tend to agree that human life and welfare and critical infrastructure shouldn't be left to the ravages of greed but tariffs are normally levied by government not free market.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740581)

From context, my inference is that UK usage of "tariff" is more broad than ours. (For British readers: Americans only say "tariff" when speaking of taxes on imported goods.)

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

default luser (529332) | about a year ago | (#41740931)

From context, my inference is that UK usage of "tariff" is more broad than ours. (For British readers: Americans only say "tariff" when speaking of taxes on imported goods.)

I'll agree that it's probably not government-levied.

However, the Brits do mandate their *sharable* networks by government regulation so that the devices all play nice with each other, and many times before people have prattled on about how great this system is because it produces cheap phone plans.

Well, now the UK has it's first modern wireless service update in nearly a decade, and of course there are price premiums and massive caps just like everywhere else in the world.

It's just a laugh because people across the pond pretend that thanks to massive regulations they are immune to high prices, whereas in-reality those low prices came from having a mature network that was relatively small (and thus paid-for earlier, resulting in lower prices).

Don't worry kids, you will always pay high prices for new technologies :D

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

cornjones (33009) | about a year ago | (#41741031)

It's not gov't involved. 'Tariff' in this context is simply the price the carriers are charging. I probably includes the taxes (VAT) but it is simply the price on the plan.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#41740947)

I'd say it is broader than imported goods and includes taxes on trade in general. For instance, I've heard the taxes imposed on a phone bill referred to as tariffs but the tariffs are government fees, if the charge originates with the private company then it is a "charge", "fee", or "surcharge" not a tax or tariff.

I do see the other definition listed in the dictionary but have never heard anyone use the word to refer to anything but a tax.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (4, Informative)

Brannoncyll (894648) | about a year ago | (#41740763)

"The tariffs have been announced for Britain's first 4G network and they include a data cap"

I tend to agree that human life and welfare and critical infrastructure shouldn't be left to the ravages of greed but tariffs are normally levied by government not free market.

In the UK a 'tariff' in this context means what you guys would call a 'plan'. From Wikipedia: The word comes from the Italian word tariffa "list of prices, book of rates," which is derived from the Arabic ta'rif "to notify or announce."

Re:Mobile bandwidth (4, Informative)

Coisiche (2000870) | about a year ago | (#41740773)

You're jumping to conclusions about a language you don't speak. In British English a tariff is a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage (electrical tariff, etc.). I was unfamiliar with other uses of the word until seeing your comment and doing a 2 second google search to find that it also means a fee, not a tax, on imports or exports (trade tariff) in and out of a country, which I assume must be the main American English use of the word.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#41740537)

High speed mobile internet could be the definition of "non critical". It's not a need. It's a luxury. And as far as I can see things have at least improved over the last 10 years here in the UK, but they're still not great obviously.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#41740797)

High speed mobile internet could be the definition of "non critical". It's not a need. It's a luxury.

What are you about? Of course it's critical. You might miss out on a tweet on a slower network. Someone else might see that advertisement for the limited edition, genuine zirconium ear studs that you've always coveted.

Damn it man, Lindsey Lohan might get arrested again and you wouldn't know about it for minutes.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (2)

pr0nbot (313417) | about a year ago | (#41740585)

Not sure this is the example I'd choose for the failure of capitalism... the rail fiasco, or energy prices, are much clearer examples. 4G isn't exactly a critical infrastructure service, and if it ever becomes one, by then all the other providers will have come on-stream (they're rolling out 6 months from now).

The downer for me in this announcement was that I'd hoped to have enough data on 4G to ditch wired home broadband (limited to 3Mbps until FTTC comes along) and just tether my phone, but if these caps are indicative of what all the providers will be allowing, then that's a dead end.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#41741335)

Internet is a critical infrastructure service. Singling out 4G or other individual types of internet isn't very productive as it opens the door for nitpicking and debate. If one wants to argue 4G is essential (or not) the argument is whether internet is essential or not. In the modern world, it certainly is.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740595)

So, guys... how's that whole "Let the market decide" argument working out for you?

It's working just fine for us, thank you very much.

Kiss kiss,
Those in charge of and profiting from the free market

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#41740635)

If only, if only, somebody thought of this... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesh_networking [wikipedia.org]

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#41740841)

As a competitive force, that falls into the "Oh, you math geeks are so adorable. Why don't you go off and play in the ISM band where the big kids' table doesn't have to look at you..." category.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#41740989)

Fortunately, it doesn't get easier than plug n' play: http://www.open-mesh.com/ [open-mesh.com] . My point is if you don't like the way somebody's conducting a service, become the competition, all 3g/4g devices also connect to... wifi. A $5 a month paywall would also make this project fairly profitable to anybody with the up-front investment cash.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#41740689)

So, guys... how's that whole "Let the market decide" argument working out for you? Capitalism works great for non-critical, non-infrastructure goods and services... but when it gets its hands on something everybody needs, it's gonna take you to the cleaners. Every single time.

It's not so much the criticality(or lack thereof) that gets you or saves you; but the barriers to entry and costs of duplicate entrants.

Plenty of user-critical-without-which-modern-civilization-would-come-to-a-screeching-halt goods get produced just fine under market conditions, so long as the barriers to entry aren't too high and competition between suppliers of identical or reasonably substitutable goods is fairly robust.

Infrastructure, of course, is sort of a classic case of high barriers to entry coupled with high costs of duplicate entrants. You've got a finite amount of desirable spectrum to work with, and every market entrant needs to put a net-connected box of RF gear on a pole in every chunk of land they want to provide service for. The spectrum and buildout hassles tend to leave you with an oligopoly, at best, among people who actually provide wireless bandwidth, and possibly some MVOs who provide specialized customer support/billing/advertising offerings to sell bandwidth to subscriber groups that the primary telcos don't want to deal with.

In addition to having strong 'natural monopoly' characteristics, Infrastructure goods and services bite you twice: Not only are they natural monopolies/oligopolies, and thus tend to fall into ugly pricing, they are infrastructure, something over which other goods and services and interactions take place, so they are extremely well placed to allow holders of market power in the infrastructure market to exert it in any of the markets (or socially valuable nonmarket activities like 'communication') that occur on top of that infrastructure. Wacky fun!

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#41741081)

You are correct, but only to a point. This isn't a "natural monopoly" situation because spectrum is (theoretically) a public resource. Nobody owns it, it's leased from the government under a set of rules... and cell phone spectrum operates using specific standards designed to be interoperable. So multiple economic agents can share the same resource (spectrum), since they're required by law to interoperate. And it's the same thing with land: While it is a limited resource, that's not what's keeping cell phone towers from popping up everywhere. You're only paying a few thousand dollars per year in most suburban areas in taxes for your house. The land itself is probably worth less than a quarter million. The cost of putting up and maintaining a tower, locating it on land of that value, will recoup costs in under ten years.

What's causing the monopoly is exclusive contracts. When a municipality allows, say, Verizon to throw up a tower, they're agreeing to let only Verizon put up towers in that area for a period of time. But it's not the towers that are the problem -- it's the land. It's the backbone... the wires that connect the tower to the main office. And if you're new, you're going to have to negotiate with your competitor for access to cables to get your data back. Unsurprisingly... this costs a lot, if they don't just say "No" flat out. Mind you, they never do that -- they just throw up so many hurdles and legal challenges that it's effectively the same thing.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740783)

So, guys... how's that whole "Let the market decide" argument working out for you? Capitalism works great for non-critical, non-infrastructure goods and services... but when it gets its hands on something everybody needs, it's gonna take you to the cleaners. Every single time.

As a capitalist executive and stock-owner, Capitalism is working out very well for me. I'm looking forward to a comfy vacation in my new yacht while my anticapitalist brethren plaster communist stars across the city's poorer neigbourhoods.

YMMV.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740801)

Nobody 'needs' a mobile phone with a data plan. People want that, yes, but it's not essential.

Capitalism, or an un-critical consumer base? (4, Insightful)

concealment (2447304) | about a year ago | (#41740863)

Capitalism works great for non-critical, non-infrastructure goods and services... but when it gets its hands on something everybody needs, it's gonna take you to the cleaners.

While I'd love to blame an economic system for this, I feel the truth is more mundane: consumers are oblivious to what they are purchasing and are content to pay high prices for bad service.

Imagine if even 25% of the new phone buyers took a look at these plans and said, "Wow, that's a terrible option. I'm going to roll back to my old Nokia flip-phone and wait for industry to get its act together."

Yeah, well... they don't do that. They keep buying overpriced cable, ridiculous cell phone plans, Nickelback, lies by politicians, McRibs, etc.

The problem is that the consumers will deny themselves nothing, and if it's a bad deal, they just pass the buck along to someone else.

Re:Capitalism, or an un-critical consumer base? (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#41741191)

Bingo. But GIT and most of the rest of /. doesnt get that and would rather "blame capitalism."

Re:Capitalism, or an un-critical consumer base? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#41741277)

While I'd love to blame an economic system for this, I feel the truth is more mundane: consumers are oblivious to what they are purchasing and are content to pay high prices for bad service.

"Today, I'd like to pay more for everything!," said no one ever. That's the same argument politicians use against the unemployed, but the names have been changed to protect the guilty: "They're just lazy and don't want to work", and then complain that unemployment is only high because of minimum wage laws. The truth is... a lot of people are working jobs they don't want to for less than they're worth because that's all that's available. It's supply and demand -- the price is set in the area near or at where those two curves meet. The price isn't the problem here -- not by itself. It's right where it should be... given market conditions. And I've never seen the price fall radically out of alignment with supply and demand in a stable market. Ever. If you can find me an example, step forward and collect millions in grant money for your economic research... because a lot of people would want to analyze that and figure out how the hell it happened. So let's talk about those market conditions.

Imagine if even 25% of the new phone buyers took a look at these plans and said, "Wow, that's a terrible option. I'm going to roll back to my old Nokia flip-phone and wait for industry to get its act together."

Collective bargaining. I covered this in another post on this thread, but briefly -- let's say it works. The company goes bankrupt because the price fell out of the bottom and their debts and such start to mount -- you can only cut so many corners, and 25% of corners is usually "I'm dead" in business. In steps the new guy, buys out all the infrastructure at a fraction of cost, and can charge a lower price because he's only paying maintenance cost, not installation costs. You get your 25%, and everybody's happy, right? Wrong. Eventually, the infrastructure will have to be replaced, or upgraded -- and there won't be money for that. Or maybe there will be, but who's going to do business in your area since they know they're going to have to up the price to cover the investment cost of new infrastructure? Nobody will. You've made your group a financial liability -- an unstable element. And so you'll have your cheap phones... but they'll be running on 5, 10, 20 year old infrastructure. Eventually, your neighbors will be sporting better plans, lower prices, etc., and you're still stuck with infrastructure that's out of date. In the end, you'll pay more.

If you want to fix the problem, you need to look at exclusive contracts, and how they work. I cover this elsewhere in this thread, so I won't repeat it again here.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740927)

There will always have to be some regulation to ensure that markets operate fairly.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#41740967)

but when it gets its hands on something everybody wants and is willing to pay crazy prices for, it's gonna take you to the cleaners.

FTFY.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

acoustix (123925) | about a year ago | (#41741129)

but when it gets its hands on something everybody wants and is willing to pay crazy prices for, it's gonna take you to the cleaners.

FTFY.

This!

How is mobile Internet access a need? (Hint: It's not)

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#41741107)

Let me FTFY: "[..] but when it gets its hands on something everybody wants, but no one has the guts to actually go without, it's gonna take you to the cleaners. Every single time."

You are not insightful. In fact you are the opposite, willfully blind to your own fallacy. The market, ie consumers, did decide. They just decided that they dont care. They simply don't have the desire, or knowledge, or will, to stand up and say "hey, this is a ripoff, and im not going to give you my money anymore". They voted with their dollars, and their vote was one of apathy. They either dont know better or they dont care.

You want to change it? Fix their ignorance. Educate them that it doesnt have to be this way. Believe it or not, if you want change, and you're in the minority that sees the need for it, you may actually have to do some legwork and help make it happen.

But that's too hard. And logical. And goes against the easy way of blaming capitalism even when I dont understand it. So lets just get rid of it and mandate everything via the government.

(And thus does the cycle of apathy repeat)

Re:Mobile bandwidth (2)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#41741145)

Nobody NEEDS 12Mbits/sec on a phone.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#41741169)

Dont blame capitalism for consumer apathy/ignorance.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#41741199)

market is working fine

just a few digital couch potatoes who do nothing but listen to music all day or watch netflix or some other media are whining.

ios and android both have lots of offline options to sync via wifi and not use data. its the same OCD couch potatoes that seem to think that streaming is somehow cooler or better

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about a year ago | (#41741289)

So, guys... how's that whole "Let the market decide" argument working out for you? Capitalism works great for non-critical, non-infrastructure goods and services... but when it gets its hands on something everybody needs, it's gonna take you to the cleaners. Every single time.

Need is the subjective word here. Is 3G or Edge not still available at competitive rates? The newest data streaming tech is anything but a critical need. Let alone the implications of having a government run the network. At least now we have the delusional air of privacy around our communications.

Define "need"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741299)

Sure, phones are useful, and they help us be more productive (sometimes) but we don't need it. It's not a human right and it shouldn't ever be. I also would vouch for these providers in this case because just like how a new TV comes out to market, you don't expect to only pay $200 for it, you pay $15,000 -- well some do. And it is those people that you should be grateful to. I remember when cellphone calls cost $2/minute and internet was about the same price. Instead of complaining, enjoy how this new network is becoming available.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#41741303)

Because everybody needs high-speed mobile broadband all the time. It's just so ridiculously important to stay informed with 160kbit/s high-quality streaming music radio. You couldn't stay informed with lightweight mobile Fark and Slashdot.

My provider says I eat 50-100MB a month. Most of that is the Mint.com app. I have an Android phone and use the Web browser to Facebook (though Facebook Mobile proper app will eat 100MB in about 5 minutes--their stand-alone Messenger app is very light-weight). I send text messages and pictures through Gmail. Granted at home it connects to wifi and I generally don't spend every waking moment sending a picture to Facebook every 5 minutes.

Also: UK data plans are worse than in the US.

Re:Mobile bandwidth (1)

StormReaver (59959) | about a year ago | (#41741313)

I generally agree with you that Capitalism frequently breaks down, but this isn't one of those times (that time is coming, but it's still decades away). At the present time, we are still firmly in the phase of smart phone data usage being really convenient, but not even close to being critical infrastructure.

Right now, we're in the consumer intelligence test phase. This is a test of people's ability to differentiate between what they need and what they want. If you sign up for a data plan under those terms, you fail the test and are not intelligent enough to make spending decisions (assuming that money has a finite limit for you).

The only way that prices are going to return to sanity is for all of the stupid people signing up for these outrageous plans to grow a spine and say no.

But that's not going to happen.

Data Caps in Canada (1)

mat.power (2677517) | about a year ago | (#41740511)

My cap is 500MB in Canada, granted I'm not on 4G currently. Regardless, if you have such a low cap you probably aren't using your device for bandwidth intensive applications when on data, if I want to watch videos, etc. I wait until I'm on WiFi (and networks are available virtually everywhere, at least in Ottawa where I live). You can also reverse-tether your phone to a computer if there is no WiFi around. That being said, I do disagree with the idea of data caps, looking forward to switching from Bell to Wind when my contract is up (as they offer unlimited data).

Re:Data Caps in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740681)

I'm on WIND in the GTA and I'm loving it. It's been over a year now.

I've saved probably 40-60/mo for that year, so it pays for my phone. (Which is why I plan to upgrade every year or two, cash in hand - especially with WindTAB.)

Re:Data Caps in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740761)

This is the best I've found...

Base plan : 65$/Month
9 GB and over add $55 + 2/MB

Without even caring about the phone price and all...

this
is
ridiculous

That's why I don't own a mobile device

It's obvious how they got these numbers (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#41740515)

They found out what the capacity of the whole network is, and divided by the number of people that could potentially buy a smart phone.

That ridic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740533)

#ERROR: Bandwidth usage exceeded.

ridiculous data caps (1)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#41740543)

What a joke. Here in Portugal, I have not bought a "4G" iPad, because the "unlimited service", with a hidden clausule of a "fair use" of 15GB only allows you to work for 1 week or at most two until it gets capped to 128kbps. With 12Mbps, Id guess that in a weeks time with fairly modest use you will exceed the cap.

Re:ridiculous data caps (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about a year ago | (#41740621)

What in the world do you intend to do with an iPad that could possibly use 15GB a month? I've owned a 3G iPad, literally since the day it first retailed, and I don't think I've used that much in total.

Re:ridiculous data caps (4, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#41740643)

netflix

Re:ridiculous data caps (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#41741207)

Awsome. full hd on a 7" screen.

Re:ridiculous data caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741213)

netflix

No. Netflix does not take up that much bandwidth. You'd have to watch it multiple hours each and every day of the month to approach that limit, all while not on Wifi. Edge cases do not a standard make.

Re:ridiculous data caps (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740675)

How about Netflix streaming? Or HBOGo. Or any other video intensive application.

Or how about Remote Desktop or VNC to our corporate accounts.

Or how about relying on iCloud for syncing my music and photos.

Just because YOU don't use data, please don't assume others don't actually take advantage of their devices.

Re:ridiculous data caps (1)

SuperMooCow (2739821) | about a year ago | (#41740985)

FaceTime. Netflix. Radio streaming. YouTube and Vimeo. Graphic-intensive websites.

Re:ridiculous data caps (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#41741013)

What in the world do you intend to do with an iPad that could possibly use 15GB a month? I've owned a 3G iPad, literally since the day it first retailed, and I don't think I've used that much in total.

It's also worth noting that the existence of potentially useful services that would consume data tends(with a certain amount of 'lived-before-my-time' leapfrogging and inertial lagging) to depend on available bandwidth(and vice versa, to some degree).

Nobody is going to bother rolling out a service like netflix streaming or that-video-game-streaming-outfit-that-just-died-horribly if there aren't enough people with broadband(or who can upgrade to broadband just by switching plans) to be potential customers. There also isn't much incentive to get out the backhoes and put new wires in the ground if there are very few people willing to pay a premium for more bandwidth, because there isn't anything to spend that bandwidth on.

To some extent, protocols that spawned on academic or corporate campuses and then migrated out provide some built-in, market-insensitive, impetus: if all your evolving is done on screaming fast LANs you have a great deal of freedom to build cool stuff without worrying about who has dialup and who has fiber-to-premises. The merry world of piracy also does some good work in this area, since the costs of entry are free-as-in-stolen(unlike something like netflix); and the content offerings(again, because of the ease with which new content partners are involuntarily brought in to the ecosystem) scale neatly from shitty 96kb/s mp3 rips and ultra-crunchy video snippets, up to high res textbook scans and bit-for-bit BD-ROM rips, providing a convenient ladder of incentives for lower bandwidth people to move up to better services.

For those customers who aren't corporate/geek enough to make heavy use of LAN-dwelling protocols and capabilities, and who aren't motivated to hoist the jolly roger and set sail for the bay, there is very much a reciprocal relationship between available bandwidth and available services. Not much incentive to improve bandwidth if nobody can buy services to use it on, and not much incentive to start services if nobody has the bandwidth needed to become a customer...

Re:ridiculous data caps (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#41741349)

15GB is pretty decent for an iDevice.

I tether my iPhone, at lunch at work I tend to use it so I can watch a half hour long TV programme most days of the week. I also stream internet radio in the car. Since I last reset the counters (on 12th Feb 2011), I've only used 18GB of data - in 18 months.

In fairness my average usage is higher over the last few months, but I suspect 15GB of data will still last me 4 or 5 months, despite streaming video while the phone is tethered to the laptop.

Top plans aren't much better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740547)

If the bottom plan (500MB) is five minutes (10 seconds a day), the top plan is only 8GB, which, by my calculations, is only 16 times.

So... 160 seconds a day on average? That's the maximum plan?

What's the point of even having speeds that fast? (besides marketing)

Re:Top plans aren't much better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741029)

Mobile phone network operators are losing a fortune(*) because people are using IMs & voice apps instead of texts & phone calls.

They're the same as the record and movie industry. They got so used to ripping people off & buying laws to protect their cartels and
they thought it would never end. The only difference is that they never found a legal way to stop progress, innovation and change.

They had billions (some from handouts and tax breaks) that they should have spent on network infrastructure but chose not to.
Their only option left is to ensure network neutrality dies and to squeeze more and more from people for data transfers. It wont be long until the 500MB/8GB caps go and they just charge per meg.

(*) The fortune they're losing is partly due to the criminally obscene rates they charge for texts (upto $10,000 per meg) when it costs them almost nothing. In 2010 the 6.1 trillion texts sent used around 26MB/s of bandwidth and earned them $116 billion.

Re:Top plans aren't much better. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#41741185)

If the bottom plan (500MB) is five minutes (10 seconds a day), the top plan is only 8GB, which, by my calculations, is only 16 times.

So... 160 seconds a day on average? That's the maximum plan?

What's the point of even having speeds that fast? (besides marketing)

My suspicion would be that the sales pitch(aside from a simple 4 IS BIGGER THAN 3 AND THEREFORE BETTER CONSUME!!!) would be very similar to to one given to Ma and Pa AOLer in the earlier days of wireline broadband: instant gratification.

If I'm a light user, I may only get 10mb of email(hey FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD:Inspirational!! has some cute puppy pictures with saccharine quotes attached, that adds up...); but I also only check once every day or three. If I'm on 56k, I'll be twiddling my fingers for ages while my computer does its POP3 thing, and won't even be able to check my Yahoo horoscope in under 10 minutes while my email is loading. If I upgrade to DSL or cable, my inbox will be pulled down in moments, and I'll be able to do anything I'd ever care to do at the same time.

In the phone case, since staying on all the time and quietly pulling things down in the background murders your battery, very high burst speeds might be able to offer faster time-to-gratification if somebody picks up their phone, knocks it out of standby, and expects their twitfeed or mailbox to update for use, or some youtube clip to load.

A heavily capped plan is useless to truly heavy data users; but high peak speeds do substantially improve user experience in terms of time between user request and completion of retrieval and rendering of whatever it is they asked for.

Re:Top plans aren't much better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741189)

What's the point of even having speeds that fast? (besides marketing)

Marketing.

What's a gigabyte? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740555)

Some things never change: http://faildesk.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2011-08-30-Verizon-Data-Plans.jpg

A Farce (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740565)

by the telecom operator just to show that they've a 4G network ready. Happened in India when operators started coming out with their 3G tariffs. Look ma, my network is on 3G now, although I admit I can't use it for more than a few seconds a day!

It makes sense now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740607)

Data, data, everywhere,
Nor any cap can take

Pay for nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740663)

Obviously they don't want people using it. They just want you to pay for nothing. I don't imagine this is going to be too popular. They are going to have to be less miserly if they want paying customers.

4G is bad for your health (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740665)

Rs[ecially your heart, and prolonged exposure to such acceleration is likely to cause oxygen shortage in parts of the brain - and permanent brain damage

9.8 Metres per second squared should be enough for everybody.

Re:4G is bad for your health (0)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#41741127)

9.8 Metres per second squared should be enough for everybody.

Except breasts and scrotums.

Its simple... (2)

AdmV0rl0n (98366) | about a year ago | (#41740685)

Don't sign up. When they see the lack of custom - they will rethink the idea/deals.

In many cases people are their own worst enemy by signing up to things that are not in their favour. Apply an evolutionary curve to problems, let bad ideas/products die/ let the good ones survive.

In some ways, I'm surprised that no mobile vendors have realised that they could decimate the old school ISP model with an aggressive take on this. All you can eat for £25 a month. They would unhinge the old bandwidth supply models too - as business realises that its mobile workers benefit greatly from an always on/always available model over the old 'on this WAN/LAN/WWAN model. A £60 all you can eat business tariff. Yum Yum.

Re:Its simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740747)

Yeah, don't sign up for internet. Great idea, we'll get right on it.

A chinese food restaurant analogy is totally wong for this situation - there's five chinese places within a couple of miles from my house but only one internet provider, and I don't more than one internet service. If the surf and turf sucks, I can just go to the next one.

Re:Its simple... (1)

slim (1652) | about a year ago | (#41740999)

Yeah, don't sign up for internet. Great idea, we'll get right on it.

He means, don't sign up for this particular 4G plan.

You could, for example, pay £12.50/mo and get 3GB of 3G from another network.

Re:Its simple... (1)

aicrules (819392) | about a year ago | (#41741117)

The people who came here to complain about a price point for a service as if they're being mandated to buy it aren't going to listen to any manner of common sense. I must be insane because I keep coming into discussions thinking maybe there won't be so many people crying how the world owes them a living.

Re:Its simple... (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#41740911)

Yeah, because it's easy for people to form collective buyer and seller pacts as individuals. Just walk over to your neighbor, and convince him to join your cause! Capitalism works because it depends on individual actors (you, your neighbor...) to make decisions about what would best benefit them. And usually, it does work. Sometimes it doesn't -- and when there's a market imbalance, it's usually the government's fault. And it is in this case -- exclusive contracts on spectrum use and land use keep competition out.

Getting together and collectively saying no doesn't change the terms of the contract... and even if you bankrupt them, someone else will come in, buy up the cables and towers they put up, and you'll be right back where you started. Yes, the price may come down because the new guy's getting the infrastructure at a fraction of the cost to build it. But who's going to lay new wire and towers after that? Eventually... you'll be out of date, and paying just as much (if not more) than the guys who didn't arrange a collective bargaining agreement.

The problem here is the exclusive contract as a financial instrument. If you want low prices... destroy them without delay.

Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740697)

Once they get their network set up they will sweep the competition.
We'll have cheep prices, but some fear the evil Google overlords.

Pick your poison.

Also if you don't think Google will move to wireless broadband once they steamroll their ground fiber, you're a fool.
There was never a bad time to invest in this company, and I say this with a fear of what a company that strong can do.

Limits (1)

Meneth (872868) | about a year ago | (#41740707)

Bandwidth in the air is limited, and everyone has to share. Perhaps this will teach some people to return to wired connections.

Because UK is not in the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41740755)

I'm in Austria and I just have to say ... I love my ~$20/month, unlimited everything cellphone plan. I'm moving back to the US in a few months and it's going to be tough.

Re:Because UK is not in the EU (1)

spike1 (675478) | about a year ago | (#41741347)

Of course the UK is in the EU!
We're not part of the EURO but we ARE in the EU.

Twenty minutes over here (1)

Meniconi,Nando (666243) | about a year ago | (#41740865)

Over here, we can take a full 20 minutes to use all of ours unlimited data plan at 12MB/s. (For the non-residents, unlimited has a different definition in the US, usually 2GB a month)

I've seen worst (1)

SuperMooCow (2739821) | about a year ago | (#41740919)

$31.50/month service that includes voice, text and data*. [telebec.com]

* Includes up to 50 MB of data per month. 15 per additional MB.

Frankly, apart from email, I don't see how useful 50MB can be. Forget websites, YouTube or Netflix, even 500MB wouldn't be enough for that. But 50MB is a sick joke if you ask me.

Can't anyone do math? (1)

David Muir Sharnoff (73602) | about a year ago | (#41741135)

The premise is wrong. At 12Mbps, it takes 44 minutes to move 4GB.

that is for the cheap plan (1)

cornjones (33009) | about a year ago | (#41741155)

according to their site, http://ee.co.uk/plans#section-phones [ee.co.uk] , the 500mb option is on the cheapest plan. for 36gbp you get 5gb. The previous highest i could find when shopping around early in the year was 2gb from vodafone.

While I would prefer an unlimited plan, this doesn't seem particularly unreasonable, or am i missing something?

Did anyone look at the cost of the plans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741167)

If you bring your own 4g phone, you can have unlimited calls and texts, with 5gb of 4g data, for less than $60 USD a month.

For comparison, pay $50 to t-mobile prepaid in USA, and I'm pretty sure you get unlimited calls and texts with 500mb of data.

  Considering this is a the first 4g service offered in the UK, I really don't think that price is unreasonable at all.

Still think thieves won't steal a cell phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41741233)

just to use it?

Data Rates (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year ago | (#41741273)

Faster data rates just mean that you will finish your download faster. The data doesn't get any bigger. If you are downloading the same content you would have downloaded at a slower rate you won't hit your cap any faster at the higher rate.

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