Friday, January 20, 2012

The Data Diet - Taxing the Rain

The Data Diet - Taxing the Rain

Kelli B. Grant writes an article "The Smartphone Data Diet: Ways to cut back usage to keep wireless bills from tipping the scales." on 

"Death, taxes and increases in your cellular bill are all things we can count on," says Brad Spirrison, managing editor for app review site Appolicious.

The SmartMoney recommendations are sound: 

  • Hunt for free Wi-Fi
  • Go off-grid (turn off apps)
  • Save video for bigger screens
  • Choose a less data-hungry phone
  • Set a limit
  • Monitor family use

Not that rising rates based on consumption was hard to predict. Xolotech posted on this very topic Taxing the Rain in July, 2011.

My Toshiba Thrive forces me to hunt for Wi-Fi 

The "Hunt for Wi-Fi" is the emerging problem. I don't carry a smartphone. In fact, my phone doesn't even have a camera. And for those that feel the urge to snicker, my phone bill last year was under $120 + tax - including the phone. My "dumb-phone" allows me to neatly ignore most of the tips above.  
However, at the end of last year I started to notice that some airports are only allowing free Wi-Fi for 30 or 45 minutes. Usually this is fine, but when your flight is cancelled or delayed this time limit is crippling.

Real World Example - Airport Wi-Fi Limits

In December I was traveling from SEATAC to AUS. and the plane had mechanical issues. Nearly four hours of mechanical issues. I always carry power, and have plenty of music and books on the Thrive. But the loss of email was harsh (texting on a dumb-phone is emotionally painful).

Bottom Line: 

As vendors push everything to mobile, consumers will continue to drive consumption and rates will continue to rise. Free Wi-Fi will evolve towards the airport model: free as a courtesy (15-30 minutes), but not free for normal consumption. Kelli Grant gives a good push in the right direction: we all need to start a data diet or at least we should prepare for the trade off between higher costs and data-starvation. 


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