Mobile Extortion

So I got my mobile phone bill today and there was an item that read, “Mobile Data Usage: $9.06”. A bit high, I think, considering that I pay roughly $60 for unlimited, high speed broadband access at home^.

So I go poking around M1’s website to try and find how much they charge for mobile data. Turns out, it is $0.0105/kb in 10kb blocks. That’s $1.608 to download just this single image picked out of M1’s website:

MiWorld log

That’s right folks! A dollar just to download that single image on my phone! It’s a good thing I’ve disabled downloading images on my mobile browser!

Mobile data rates are nothing short of extortionate, if you ask me. My telecom-industry friend tell me that GPRS essentially uses unused spectrum so it’s not like the telecom operator is paying additional license fees to the government for it. They are just using their existing investments more efficiently and charging me more at the same time!

Let me go a bit further to show you how ridiculous the situation is. M1 recently launched an “unlimited broadband” service wherein they offer (among other plans) a 3.6Mbps connection at $68 per month. An attached fine print states that a Fair Usage Policy applies to their “unlimited” plans. What does this policy say? I quote:

1.1 For data services, your usage should not be:
(a) Excessive (downloading or uploading more than 2 GB each month inclusive of video streaming, video calls, email access, VOIP calls, downloading and uploading of any content); or
(b) Unreasonable (use which may adversely affect our network, or other customers’ use of our network and/or services); or
(c) Fraudulent (including resupplying our service without our consent to a third party to access the data services).

1.2 If you are in breach of Clause 1.1 above, we have the option to :
(a) charge you a rate of S$0.01 per KB in blocks of 10KB, for continued data services usage; or
(b) suspend or terminate this Agreement in accordance with Clauses 5.2 and 5.3 of this Agreement.

Hmm.. how much is 2 GB per month? It translates to roughly 6.4 Kbps when using the connection 24x7. If you use the connection a third of the time, the effective speed is 19.4 Kbps. How’s that for a $68 per month 3.6 Mbps unlimited data connection?

Or look at it in another way. If the connection really worked at its advertised maximum speed of 3.6 Mbps, how fast would you use up your quota of 2 GB per month? Take a guess first without doing the math.

You’ll run out of your quota in just 1.26 hours!!

This industry has no hope. Operators really like to screw their customers in every position imaginable. We don’t just need a revolutionary iPhone: we need a revolutionary iOperator before we can achieve mobile nirvana.