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Has Technology Outpaced Network Capacity

Unlimited data plans are coming to an end worldwide. AT&T got the ball rolling and O2 in the United Kingdom quickly followed. Verizon is looking to restructure their data plans as well and many other networks in the global market never offered it in the first place. As data intense devices continue to hit the market with all of their really cool capabilities and applications, we can certainly anticipate the other networks to follow in this trend.

We all know data usage has increased dramatically with the introduction of smart phones and great gadgets like the iPad. One can download music and videos, take advantage of GPS technology, participate in live webinars, Skype and send and receive digital high resolution pictures directly to your phone. These are intensive data users.

The iPhone in particular has proven to be a real ‘data hog’. iPhone users love their phones because of the full html email, enhanced internet features, streaming videos, quick music downloads and all those wonderful applications. And the more applications you load, the more data gets used with constant refreshing and updates.

International roaming with smart phones, especially the iPhone, is generating some huge bills for many users who fail to “bundle up” with their carrier before leaving the country. Many times, the bundle isn’t enough. One 5 megapixel picture sent or received via MMS or email can use 2-3MB of data. At international roaming rates without a bundle, that can cost as much as $40. Even a 3-4 minute video from YouTube or an iTunes song download can chew down on 5MB of data. At the last AT&T rate I saw of $0.0195 per KB that is going to be expensive. With 1024KBs in a single MB, that’s 5,120KBs. That song may have had a price tag of only $0.99, but it cost $99.84 to download on international roaming.

As the 4G network expands the smart phones will speed up. Apps continue to become bigger and better, so it stands to reason that data usage will increase astronomically. Networks are not only seeing dollar signs by implementing these tiers but are working to ensure they do not exceed their capacity to deliver. Unlimited data plans may soon be a thing of the past in the US and abroad. As consumers, we need to educate ourselves on how data works and what tools and devices use more data than others. We cannot continue to take the data used by these gadgets for granted.

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