The Other Side of Flat Rate Data Plans

Tim Bray has a post arguing against flat rate mobile data plans from carriers. I don’t agree with the really low cost for data part, but his overall suggestions are something that’s come up before when we talk about the future for mobile carriers. He lays out the steps wonderfully:

  1. Discontinue all flat-rate mobile data plans.
  2. Offer a-la-carte data at a price that seems obscenely, ridiculously, low.
  3. Radically open up the network. Let anyone connect anything to it. Sell phones that make it really easy to download apps from anywhere and run them.
  4. Build a developer ecosystem. Make it effortless to get in. Build a hot-new-apps social network; maybe in alliance with one of the big existing social nets.
  5. Don’t ask developers for any money. But sell the use of your billing system at a really attractive rate, so people can sign up for apps and have it billed to their phone plan. Do it at a scale that an app can charge a dime a month and still make money on scale.
  6. Duck and cover, because the explosion of creativity and new business models will cause some casualties.

I see where he’s going with the “once the carrier has your money they have no incentive” side of the argument, but I don’t think data figures in there. His point about billing infrastructure is the real key. That should be the point of incentive, not driving more data traffic. You need to build the network and run it at capacity so that you can provide the other services, which is in my opinion where the real value should lie.

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2 Responses to The Other Side of Flat Rate Data Plans

  1. lassi says:

    cancel flat rate?? How does that help? Maybe if it’s high cost, but its a cost issue -not flatfee issue. In finland you can get flatfee 384kbps 3g for 9.8e per month. You can tether or whatever as much you want(no 10gb or whatever limit). Micropayments i agree with. Writing from a n95 btw, on flatfee. Paying per mb takes away the joy of mobile computing.

  2. Run Rate says:

    Glad to see someone is staying on top of things.

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