Feature Article

December 29, 2010

4G Pricing, All You Can Eat vs. Bundled Bytes

Well the Age of 4G has arrived with the major carriers all competing with interesting prices and bundles.

At the core of your decision to buy 4G the question has to be what you expect to do with your system. Some companies are clearly aimed at being a primary service for your data needs. Clearwire, MetroPCS, and Sprint are all over “all you can eat” services. 

Clearwire is the most aggressive on trying to be a primary service with bundles aimed at looking to replace your home and mobile services. Clear has the lowest entry charges at $25.00 a month, but their $45 dollar all you can eat is aggressive. The bundles will in effect double and triple your costs depending on your needs.

MetroPCS is around $50…with three LTE packages that are priced at $50, $55 and $60 a month based on your choice of device. MetroPCS does not allow tethering so the issue as to whether these devices are your only service should be considered.

Sprint gets expensive as you keep adding feature, however. While the official costs are $49.95 or $59.95, but with my EVO at its base I pay over $100, but I tether and find that I am fairly mobile with my computers and my phone.

T-Mobile’s rate is $39.99 with a non limit of 5GBs. The interesting strategy says that your service is no longer guaranteed after the 5GB limit, leaving room for interpretation that they are going to degrade the service. Because of their liberal interpretation of the marketing 4G is that they have the most devices associated this service.

Now comes the usage based guys AT&T & Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Wireless expects an increase in data usage with the first bundle at 10GB for $80, as well as their 5 GB for $50. Each GB costs you $10. So the overage for 15 GB’s of usage will cost you $130 or $150 depending on your plan. 

Verizon Wireless has some interesting views as to device data differentiation. If you choose to use a smartphone the maximum use is 2GB for only $20. However the cost of extra an GB goes to $20, which makes the smartphone the more expensive data usage if you exceed the limit.

AT&T charges the most for their 5GB plan at $60 with overage charges of a nickel a megabit. Yes that means $50 a GB! Pricing this out we get close to Rural T1 prices pretty quickly with the 15 GB overage costing as much as $560 for the 15 GB model I created. However, ATT sales reminded me that they have one of the most extensive Nationwide WiFI networks and will allow me to roam on off the 4G network.

This last year I have experimented with every major carrier and the usage fees have been extraordinary. At our 4G events, I always give room for WiFI since it clearly has saved me monies. However, when I have tethered on some services I have ended up with bills over $300.00. For that reason I am inclined to start with the flat rate services.

Carl Ford is a partner at Crossfire Media.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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