Weekend Open Forum: Fair price for unlimited wireless data?

By on January 4, 2013, 7:00 PM

Wireless carriers tend to be among the worst when it comes to consumer friendliness. At least that has been my experience with four or five providers in three different countries -- whether it's expensive data plans, restrictive and lengthy contracts, awful reception, or an utter disregard for customer satisfaction post-sale.

Case in point: I recently found out that the $19.99 per month unlimited data plan I signed up for two years ago had been demoted to 1GB per month. No explanations given.

While I prepare for a tedious and demoralizing back and forth with Telefonica-owned Movistar to get answers, let's make this the topic for our Weekend Open Forum.

Today we want to know: how much are you paying for mobile data and what would you consider fair price for an unlimited wireless data plan? We'd also like to hear who your wireless provider is and what's your experience with them so far.

Angry dude image via Shutterstock




User Comments: 34

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1 person liked this | Raswan Raswan said:

Verizon Wireless. 50$/mo., 4GB cap. Never even come close to it, but got in on a deal so it's the same price I would have to spend on 2GB, so I'll keep it. Rarely do I make use of data except for GPS, looking up occasional things.

Realistically, can't complain, but I'm at my limit for paying for data. Verizon has so many other ways to get five bucks here and there out of customers, I'm lucky I can do without those things (e.g. charging 5 bucks a month in order to block more than five numbers from harassing me, or any number for longer than 90 days, when I damn well know Verizon is the one selling my number to the highest bidder in the first place. We're going to rumble on this, sooner or later, I know.).

I've read so many articles on wireless data and networks costs I could write a goddamn dissertation on it. Still, I can't give a fair price on unlimited data. Verizon gets screwed by the likes of Samsung and Motorola and Apple in subsidizing these handsets in the first place, so they need to recoup somewhere. Plus, network competition spurs innovation, which is desperately needed, so I'm happy to fuel the market. But I know they are raking in huge margins, and the cost of entry to any wireless provider is astronomical.

In the end, I'm happy to see tmobile shaking things up, and I suspect that unlimited data will eventually shake out around fifty bucks a month. Just give it a few years. I'm much more pissed about my ISP capping my data at 250GB. Eff that noise.

Gars Gars said:

Fair? right?

u r r3ducula55

come to EU and pay the prise they want

then we will talk

Littleczr Littleczr said:

Sprint $80/month including insurance. I get everyting and there is no monthly cap on my internet use. I feels that how they charge for text messagagin is the the robbery of the century. Now that im reading this I will look in to changing my plan.

ETF Soldier ETF Soldier said:

60£/M for 60MB/S speed and unlimited data usage + unlimited phone calls + Virgin XL TV package. Not too bad, the internet speed is insane.

veLa veLa said:

Whatever T-Mo and Sprint charge for unlimited is what I'll consider fair.

1 person liked this | Jim$ter said:

We got straight talk from Walmart. $45 a month unlimited everything (advertised) but in reality heard its caped at 2gb. But still a better deal than the big guys. Uses AT&T towers.

Ckorik Ckorik said:

Verizon Wireless. 50$/mo., 4GB cap. Never even come close to it, but got in on a deal so it's the same price I would have to spend on 2GB, so I'll keep it. Rarely do I make use of data except for GPS, looking up occasional things.

Virgin mobile - Unlimited data - sprint network - 1200 minutes a month - unlimited texting - 45 a month.

My android phone cost me 50 bucks on sale two weeks ago and is available for a *cost* from Verizon for a an extra fee with new service - to get the same plan would be over 50 bucks more a month from the V.

Oh and if I ended my contract early... V would charge me 400+ for the phone to leave the contract. If I got the phone (with no contract, and no plan commitment) for 50 bucks straight up - how the heck do you think that V is 'subsidizing' the phone. Seriously I think they sell that line as a way to make you feel guilty while they take the money from your back pocket.

And yes... my 'unlimited' is only 2.5 gb unthrottled - but it *doesn't* turn off if I go over and it also *doesn't* charge me more money automatically - two features that I consider a *must* for any data plan regardless of the cap/throttle.

The big players are raking in money hand over fist and laughing all the way to the bank.

whiteandnerdy said:

I'm still grandfathered in on At&t's unlimited data plan for $30/month. I did hear rumors that this will be axed soon. I use as much data as possible (6GB/month sometimes) to get what I pay for.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

It will eventually be free. The US government will want a camera in every pocket and provide it like food stamps.

psycros psycros said:

I'm still grandfathered in on At&t's unlimited data plan for $30/month. I did hear rumors that this will be axed soon. I use as much data as possible (6GB/month sometimes) to get what I pay for.

You'll be throttled to EDGE speed if you go over somewhere between 2.5 and 3gb. Annoyingly, they instituted these limits a few months before they boosted the 3G speed in my area. If they hadn't set this threshold I would actually have reasonable Internet now: wireless is the only option where I live. With that in mind, I would gladly pay $75/mth for 250kbs down without throttling or caps. That's just <I>data</I> I'm talking about - I'd pay extra for my phone service. At least 30 million Americans have no access to wired broadband (and some estimates are closer to 40 million). The first carrier that rolls out unlimited service with reasonable speed will have a captive market waiting. If I was Sprint, I'd be getting some towers up a few miles beyond the reach of cable or DSL..so far AT&T and Verizon seem to have little interest in rural areas.

Macgyver56 said:

Sprint. Unlimited data with 450 anytime minutes: $80/month. Is that a fair price? I can't say. It's the best price I can find in my local market. My only gripe is that there's a $10 add-on fee in there for 4G (they say it's for "premium data", but that $10 tack-on has always been for the 4G), and Sprint doesn't have 4G here ... or anywhere that I normally travel. They're forcing me to pay for a service that they cannot provide, which I resent.

The good part of the plan is that all cell-to-cell calls, regardless of carrier, are part of the package. They do not come out of the 450 minutes. And I never have to think twice about my data usage -- if I want to surf, e-mail, or text, I never have to worry about going over a limit. I don't stream with my phone, so I've never gotten close to the point where Sprint might start to throttle me.

Coverage is good, speed is excellent. It's nice to have a backup on the rare occasion that my home internet (cable) goes out. All in all, the base monthly fee of $70 seems reasonable to me for what I'm getting out of it. It's only the $10 add-on that seems unfair to me.

stonarda said:

O2 are worst - used to advertise unlimited data on PayandGo for £10 top-up a month (capped at 0.5GB usage limit)!

Vicenarian said:

$40 month, unlimited calling and data, w00t!

JC713 JC713 said:

Sprint $80/month including insurance. I get everyting and there is no monthly cap on my internet use. I feels that how they charge for text messagagin is the the robbery of the century. Now that im reading this I will look in to changing my plan.

I switched from sprint to Verizon because the coverage is spotty and 4G is slow. I notice that my family of 4 doesnt use more than 1.8 GB, so I brought it down from 4GB to 2GB

Zeutrinox Zeutrinox said:

I pay $10/month for unlimited access and the average speed is 35kbps (sometimes may jot to 86kbps) for download and 17kbps for upload. I think it's pretty good deal for daily mobile Internet usage.

treetops treetops said:

I pay 40$ a month with virgin mobile for 350 talk, unlimited text and 2gig data cap(then it slows). And insurance with a 25$ fee for phone replacement, verizons fee was like 100-150$. My phone cost me about 170$ 5 months ago from the virgin site no discount, droid something or other you get what you pay for, has the latest os, looks slick, can load any app and has a decent camera. I can usually load a youtube video just fine and stream it without waiting. However I'm not near a big city so I have disconnected\temp loss of volume calls inside my house. Matter of fact I nearly always head straight out the door when my phone starts to ring just in case.

For 40$ a month grand total its not to bad, but god damnit I can barely use my phone in the house! No contract, I pay monthly and when I move closer to a big city my reception will be fine.

When I had verizon I used a texting app but still had a 90-110$ a month bill, thats just to much for me right now.

p51d007 said:

45/month (54 with tax) straight talk, unlimited everything. at&t towers.

I never go over 2gig/month anyway.

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

I pay $185 a month with taxes for my unlimited data grandfathered in on my galaxy Note and daughters Iphone 4S with 3Gb plan with unlimited text for both and parental controls, roadside assistance fees and 700 mins shared voice on AT&T. I think its about right for 2 high end phones.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Unless you are tethering or streaming, who needs an unlimited data service anyway? Tethering and streaming should have their own premiums, if they surpass the standard caps.

Guest said:

I have to admit even among high end users who figuratively eat data, I have used as little as a gig and as high 100 Gigs. Yes I typed that correctly, 100 gigs. I was on an unlimited data plan that had been grandfathered through about 4 contracts and was originally designed for the CDMA network, so yes it was slower but it also had no limitations in it for data speed or caps. Sadly when I had to upgrade my phone a little while ago I was unable to keep my unlimited data plan.

Today I have a S3 with a data lock in it and tend to hit 6 gigs of data (my monthly limit) within the third week, but I am not currently tethering to my laptop and constantly downloading games for beta testing either, though I would like to I'm not stupid.

Before I lost my unlimited data I was able to get a hole of the "Vice president of mobile systems" With Telus in Canada here. I spoke with him and what he told me was that the primary reason telus canceled their unlimited data plans was the HSPA network they build was not designed to handle it and was struggling as it was to keep up. When the LTE network was up and running at 100% they would be reconsidering the unlimited data again as the LTE network would be able to handle it.

So in my opinion IF Telus/Bell/Rogers (in Canada) were to put in unlimited data again, I think the appropriate Value per month would be $35-$45 per-month with no caps in speed or data amount. When I say this I take into account how much they pay per month for their access to the primary pipe which depending on city ranges between 25 and 75 cents per gig, as well as taking into account all the towers that need to be maintained. I think $35-45 per month, no cap, no speed restrictions would be fair.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

INCOMING RANT.......

I have absolutely no idea what would be a "fair price" for unlimited data, other than to say it's way lower than any of the carriers are charging.

All I see is your phone bill being run up, to fund a pissing contest between Comcast's "X-Finity", (same s***, different name), and Verizon's "FIOS".

KIddies, those all night long, roadblocking ads on national network TV don't come cheap, or anything even remotely resembling cheap.

The Comcast building is, or is close to, the tallest building in the city of Philadelphia, and Verizon's is right up next to it, if that gives you any idea how much money telecoms are siphoning out of your wallets.

Don't complain, you're simply addicted to running your mouths incessantly, saying nothing, and being billed for it like the Jacka**es you are.

Oh, I almost forgot. It seems that having a cell phone is now, "an inalienable human right, bestowed upon us by our creator", and your "smart phone" bill is reflecting that, since everybody with a half a** decent sob story, is now entitled to free cell phone service.

But see, you absolutely have to have internet service, because you can then save the 45 cents that the post office would charge you for a stamp to mail in your check to pay your phone bill.

While you're at it, you should stop in to Starbuck's, and buy a five dollar coffee to wash the bad taste out of your mouth, from paying the aforementioned, way over inflated phone bill!

"Remember, the more you spend, the more you save".........."it's the American way.....yay"!

Scshadow said:

I don't like this WOF one bit. Fair price has essentially become irrelevant. Their systems are overloaded. Whether this is partially a result of complacency, I don't know. But the fact is, they're charging more because thats the only way to get us to use less. Unlimited usage would cripple the network for everyone. While mostly unsympathetic to wireless companies, I do believe wireless companies has a huge obstacle in network congestion. The truth is, what other choice do they have? They can't really snap their fingers and upgrade all their towers overnight. Give me one good alternative to reduce network congestion overnight. Turn customers away? That just sends them to another company. Some service is better then no service.

Guest said:

As much as the greedy companies can get is what they consider fair.

Guest said:

Unlimited data HA

I laugh at that

every company has their caps on something in Canada read the fine print

and when everything checks out to be unlimited its usually only for a limited time

or the company will change it, (they have the right to do that at any time they choose)

or cap the speed at which you receive the data (they have the right to do that at any time they choose)

all the while watch your monthly bill go up on an annual rate increase all built into your contract

Guest said:

My provider is Vodafone Egypt and I pay 8.5$ per month to get 1.5 Gigabytes with 7.2 mbps internet speed and when I finish the 1.5 Gigabytes up my internet speed turns to be 64 kbps and that is really slow sometimes it takes 60 seconds to open The Google

ETF Soldier ETF Soldier said:

Erm, I pay £15 a month for unlimited texts and data, speed is crap but I barely use the internet, I think it's capped at 1GB/month.

Guest said:

Must be nice to be stuffed with cash!!

ikesmasher said:

INCOMING RANT.......

I have absolutely no idea what would be a "fair price" for unlimited data, other than to say it's way lower than any of the carriers are charging.

All I see is your phone bill being run up, to fund a pissing contest between Comcast's "X-Finity", (same s***, different name), and Verizon's "FIOS".

KIddies, those all night long, roadblocking ads on national network TV don't come cheap, or anything even remotely resembling cheap.

The Comcast building is, or is close to, the tallest building in the city of Philadelphia, and Verizon's is right up next to it, if that gives you any idea how much money telecoms are siphoning out of your wallets.

Don't complain, you're simply addicted to running your mouths incessantly, saying nothing, and being billed for it like the Jacka**es you are.

Oh, I almost forgot. It seems that having a cell phone is now, "an inalienable human right, bestowed upon us by our creator", and your "smart phone" bill is reflecting that, since everybody with a half a** decent sob story, is now entitled to free cell phone service.

But see, you absolutely have to have internet service, because you can then save the 45 cents that the post office would charge you for a stamp to mail in your check to pay your phone bill.

While you're at it, you should stop in to Starbuck's, and buy a five dollar coffee to wash the bad taste out of your mouth, from paying the aforementioned, way over inflated phone bill!

"Remember, the more you spend, the more you save".........."it's the American way.....yay"!

This is one of the saddest yet funniest things I have read in a long time. its so true.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I Managed to get a decent deal recently in the UK:

T-Mobile (EE, Orange) is doing a deal called "The Full Monty" Which is:

iPhone 4s 16GB for £70

Unlimited calls to anyone on the same network or 2000 Minutes to any other network

Unlimited Texts

Unlimited data (up to 8GB full speed, after then half speed)

All this for £26 a month. Pretty good to be honest compared to what the normal prices are here.

If you purchase this from EE itself its almost £50 a month!

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Once upon a time, I went out to get an unlimited data plan for my smartphone, but on my way, I stopped to have some cappuccino and during that 'more saner' moment decided that I'm better off paying 10$ a month for a 2GB* plan + 15$ month for postpaid line rent, giving me about 5K+ free minutes ........ .

* Basically need to have the ability to send/receive my work emails.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I go through Cellular One currently and pay $37 ish a month for 300 daytime / 1000 Night & weekend starting @ 6pm, and unlimited txt. My plan is an old one I signed up for back in Oct of 2005 and have never changed. I was fairly happy with them until about a year ago when my Razr (yes the old original one) started acting up. It still had a warranty on it so I sent it in on the manufactures warranty, and it came back just as screwed up. It came back right as my warranty expired so they wont let me warranty repair it a second now.....

Customer service was absolutely no help. They basically said I am SOL.

So I gimp it along for the remaining year on my contract and now I am shopping around for a new cell provider - thinking of doing the Straight Talk / Net10 $85/mo for 2 phones "unlimited" everything plan for me and my wife.

I really don't need unlimited talk or text, I don't use them a whole lot, but it seems "unlimited" is the new base plan :p

Sadly because I live in a rural area I have crap for cell options. I notice a lot of these "new" cell providers run off the Sprint/Nextel network.....of which the closest tower is over a state away.

So I have the option of the semi-local Cellular One, Verizon, or Alltel .... or Straight Talk which runs off of Verizon's towers in this area.

As for what I think is fair - somewhere in the area of $45 - $55 /mo, for the final bill (includes all fees and taxes) and true unlimited EVERYTHING.

ntoren said:

Switched to Republic Wireless and my wife and I both pay around $23/month for unlimited data, calling and texting. Sick of VZ so we dumped them and haven't looked back! So glad to be away from the big companies who don't care about customer service. I know I sound like an advertisement but I deal with Verizon at work for the office phones and any billing issue is handled by a third party that is completely inept. I have come to loathe the whole organization. Granted my Republic Wireless phone is not as fast or fancy as some phones but is totally fine for me and my middle-of-the-road needs. If I watched a lot of video while out and about or if I needed space on the phone for a ton of apps it wouldn't be ideal. But since that's not the case for either of us, $46/month is a welcome price for two phones' service.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The only reason you had access to unlimited in the past was so that the cellphone companies could hook you into wanting more later. Cellphone carriers knew if they raised the celling to unlimited, some would increase their usage and eventually that would become a normality. A normality that they could eventually charge for. This normality is now a reality and cellphone companies are more than happy to be charging for it. I know everyone here has heard the term nothing is for free. With unlimited there is a usage point (regardless of contract prices) where the company starts to loose money. Companies don't like to loose money, so I believe you will never see unlimited again unless they want to increase usage statistics.

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