The Boston Globe
points to a survey of 391 mobile industry executives in 55 countries, which showed that 55 percent of executives say that consumers can expect so-called tiered pricing in the future. 47 percent of the executives insist that flat-rate data plans damage their ability to grow revenues. While these numbers actually seem surprisingly low, the research firm tells the Globe this "the beginning of the end" for flat-rate pricing. Of course that's not necessarily true, given several execs think unlimited pricing could be a competitive differentiator thanks to its simplicity:
Virgin Mobile LP said yesterday that it would offer unlimited data for $40 a month. Last week, Sprint’s chief executive, Dan Hesse, said his company will not limit data usage in the near future. "We are committed to an unlimited plan, because we think that’s a differentiator in the market," he said. "Customers want simplicity . . . They just don’t want to hear that meter running."
Of course just because 50% of execs daydream about the industry shifting this direction doesn't mean it has to. The survey may have well just asked puppies if they like peanut butter, given the low cap and overage model not only results in people frequently having to take out second mortgages to pay their wireless bill
, but it also helps offset the loss of revenue in an open platform, smartphone future, where mobile VoIP and push IM make voice minutes and SMS archaic.
We already know metered billing is good for investors, bean counters and executives, as it allows them to retain control by constricting the pipe, while ramping up data revenues substantially. The question (unasked by the Globe) is whether a shift from "unlimited" (usually not unlimited anyway) to more caps and overages will be a good move for consumers, many of which don't even know what a gigabyte is
. Network upgrades provide enough leg room that we should be seeing high caps
, but instead AT&T's busily forcing consumers to do the limbo