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The Curious Pricing of 3G Data Plans



Have you ever scratched your head in wonder or frustration or anger at how 3G data plans are priced by the carriers? It often seems like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma to quote Winston Churchill.

Certainly there’s no consistency and to be frank, my opinion is that is just the way the carriers like it. They love to create a fog around their plans to keep consumers off balance. That’s why I gave them an Ink Blot Award this year.

Well if you want to know just how all over the map pricing ranges and what the carriers charge per megabyte of data you might want to check out this interesting article from Infoworld. It shows that there is no such thing as a standard when it comes to pricing data (not that anyone say there has to be), and that what a MB costs over here isn’t the same as what it costs over there. Figuring it out is almost like shopping in some bizarre middle eastern bazaar, the only problem is you don’t get to negotiate.

Note that corporate customers pay less per MB of data than consumers do. There’s a table that lays it all out for you and it is well worth taking a look at. With 4G (or what passes for 4G) about to roll out in various sectors across the US look for more of this kind of confusion to be the norm. If you can call it a norm.



  1. GoodThings2Life

    12/04/2010 at 4:38 pm

    This is still the biggest reason why I prefer Sprint’s Simply Everything plan. Regardless of whether it’s really cheaper or not, when I pay a consistent $119/month (with phone protection and taxes) and get unlimited whatever I want, I at least feel better about the price tag. I know what I’m paying for and I make it a point to really use it.

    What irks me is the specialty fees like the $10/month on the EVO, so that’s where I cheat… I rooted my phone and use tethering for free. I feel it’s justified by the fact that Youngstown, OH will no doubt be one of the last areas to get 4G. Bill me extra for extra data usage, and by God I’m gonna use it!

  2. Anonymous

    12/04/2010 at 5:04 pm

    Price differentiation is the word, all markets do it from carriers to airlines.

    the trick is to slice it up so that anyone that could be willing to pay “something” will do so.

  3. HG

    12/05/2010 at 11:29 pm

    I always wonder how Sprint could get away with this extra charge they charge for something that some users cant use. Strange enough I recieved a email from a class action lawsuit against Sprint for charging the extra $10.00 a month when skme cities dont provide the service. Assn yone else recieve a email like this? I dont know how true this email is that I recieved 3 days ago.

  4. savagemike

    12/06/2010 at 4:42 am

    The only thing I wonder about is how they get so many people to fight for the ‘magic of the markets’ rather than be hammering on politicians doors about busting up oligopolies and their inherent pricing collusions, implicit or otherwise.

    These companies deserve to make a fair profit. However, to sell them public asset like signal space and then stand-back while they utilize it to outright rape the public on pricing for the use of it is crazy.

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