Posted in Technology

The problem with mobile Internet today: expensive data plans and roaming charges

In the past few weeks, I have attended two conferences, Mobile 2.0 in San Francisco and Nokia’s Mobile Mashup in Palo Alto, on the supposedly new world of mobile Internet, a paradise where everyone can use these incredible applications on their mobile phones AND access the Internet in all its glory. Unfortunately we’re stuck with a basic reality: expensive data plans and the attendant roaming charges when you go abroad. Until I can get a cheap, flat-rate, all-you-can-eat worldwide monthly data service plan, I am not going to use these applications. Of course, I already use Google maps, search and visit a variety of websites on my mobile phone using Wi-Fi when I can find it. But Wi-Fi is not yet everywhere and it’s still sometimes a hassle to use: login screens that make you type in long characters (on a cell phone this is very unpleasant), having to pay every time you log on to a different network. Until we have cheap flat rate plans and no roaming charges, I’m afraid it’s a waste of time to develop these apps and attend these events.

UPDATE: SFR, the French operator, launched their version of “unlimited” mobile 3G Internet access. Click here to see the press release and here to see the article with video clip on Journal du Net. Several problems with this:

  • There are 3 different tariffs (39, 49 and 69 EUR) with various services, like mobile TV associated with them. I find it confusing.
  • You have to sign up for 12 to 24 months. What if you just want access when you are in France occasionally?
  • Works only with certain phones.

If this is the mobile operator’s way to encourage mobile Internet use, good luck.

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Author:

Author of "The Secret of Angat", a novel set in the Philippines during World War II. Founder, MuniWireless.com; Founder (Mapplr.com - travel) and Shopplr.com (beauty, style).

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