Unlimited data sir? No problem!
Just as many were getting used to the idea of the end of flat rate data tariffs with more and more data caps and tiered pricing plans being announced, so the MetroPCS announcement of its new LTE service tariffs has made many people sit up and take notice. Including me. LTE is going to account for some 300 million subscribers globally by 2015 in Juniper's forecasts, with around 1 in 5 users benefitting in developed nations. It's still early days of course, with very few services launched or subscribers hooked up. But of the tariffs that we've seen so far, including some for existing HSDPA services, most involve some level of usage limit. After you breach the limit, something happens. Like you get downgraded in speed until your next bill. With this latest announcement though, it's different. One difference is that MaaetroPCS is a no-contract, prepaid service, making it kind of difficult to downgrade users until their next bill! So for $55 you get " talk, text and a 4G Web experience initially on an unlimited basis." Yes, I noticed the word "initially" too. But like I said it's early days. With TeliaSonera, the upgrade for existing 3G subscribers gives them speeds between 10Mbps and 20Mbps and 20GB of data for about the same price. But one thing that is becoming ever more clear by the day is this. Pricing plans are getting more complex. Regular readers of this blog will have seen the "what is a megabyte?" posts. That's the issue really. The beauty of the unlimited plans is that everyone understands them. Not everyone likes them of course - and most in that category are the mobile operators who are seeing revenues and traffic growth decoupling. For the user though, it must be simple and easily understood. That's the message. We can invent really clever plans but the average person has to be able to translate all the small print into how they use their device on a daily basis and there's a customer communication challenge there.