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Mobile Personalization - Unlimited Data Packages Not Always the Best Plan


January 12, 2011

By Stefanie Mosca, TMCnet Web Editor


With cell phones being more used and in-demand than ever before, users can barely even step out of the house without having their phones glued to their fingertips. For subscribers who take advantage of all the bells and whistles a smartphone has to offer, it only makes sense for them to sign-up for an unlimited data package.  But Bridgewater Systems, the mobile personalization company, recently explained why all-you-can-eat data plans aren’t they’re cracked up to be.

According to Bridgewater Systems (News - Alert) official blog, one of the most effective ways to limit peer-to-peer (P2P) usage on the wireless data network is to remove the ‘unlimited’ tag (News - Alert) from the service offering. There is a very real correlation between an ‘all-you-can-eat’ service and excessive consumption – and this appears to be hardwired into our behavior.

The mobile personalization company compares an unlimited data plan to an all-you-can-eat buffet, explaining that a users consumption is limited by a very practical boundary, like a full stomach.

“All-you-can-eat data services, however, have no corresponding restriction – the only thing limiting data consumption is the rate at which the data is actually delivered. Given an unlimited service, many subscribers will proactively attempt to “get what they are paying for”. They download an ‘endless playlist’ – more music than they have the time to listen to, for example. Alternatively, they might download an entire television series – many episodes of which are never watched because there just isn’t enough time. The catch is that such individuals gain a certain level of satisfaction because they feel that they are getting the most value out of their data tariff,” according to the blog.

So what choices does an operator have when offering unlimited service? A reasonable approach to solving the problem might seem to be ‘rate limiting’ certain types of traffic such as video and music downloads.

The blog suggests that even if an operator can’t actually enforce the cap from day one, if a service cap is introduced: the mindset of the subscriber changes. This causes data usage to move from being a limitless commodity to a more scarce resource – and the average subscriber will become more cautious as to how they use the data service.

Stefanie Mosca is a Web editor for TMCnet. Previously she worked as a freelance copy editor for Digital Surgeons LLC. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University and a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of New Haven. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca


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