Would You Pay Extra For Those Services That Use The Most Data On Your Smartphone?

As wireless carriers try to balance the growing demand from smartphone customers with the constant demand from investors to make a profit, some say the future of wireless data plans might stray away from the current tiered structure and toward a model that has customers paying for the services they use the most.

For example, if most of your data usage is from updating and checking Facebook, maybe you pay $X/month to have unlimited access to that service. Or if you stream Netflix flicks while riding the bus to work every morning, you would pay a fee for solely that service so that you don’t have to worry about going over your cap.

CNNMoney’s David Goldman says that the content providers could also subsidize customers’ data usage in an effort to keep users happy and coming back for more.

This type of model already is essentially already being used for the 3G versions of Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, where the 3G access fee covers all the downloads.

However, most Nook and Kindle users are not downloading gigabytes of books each month, so that’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison with Netflix or some other data-chomping service.

Why your cell phone bill is going up [CNNMoney.com]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Shadowfire says:

    Absolutely not. This is exactly the sort of behavior that people want to discourage with net neutrality legislation.

  2. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:


  3. tbax929 says:

    While I like a lot of the things my smart phone can do, all I really need for it to do is make phone calls and text. I’m rarely very far from a computer (I use one all day at work), and I use my tablet for reading books. So, no, I would not pay extra for Netflix, Facebook, etc., on my phone, although I do use them.

  4. Sunflower1970 says:

    Absolutely, positively not.

  5. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    I have a slight smart, dumb-phone.

  6. JohnDeere says:

    if i pay $7.99 for unlimited streaming, then dangit i should get unlimited streaming.

  7. glorpy says:

    I’m perfectly willing to pay for metered data, but not on a per-service basis. Why should I pay a separate fee for Hulu versus Amazon Prime versus NetFlix versus YouTube versus Facebook? A byte is a byte and I want a single bill for all of my bytes.

    • Cat says:

      A byte is a byte and I want a single bill for all of my bytes.

      Yea, I think this is the way it will have to work in the future.

      Of course, I’ll probably have to pay extra for my overbyte.

  8. Invader Zim says:

    No no no….greedy meanies.

  9. IphtashuFitz says:

    Sounds like a great idea to me. I’ll just launch a competing service:

    Hey Facebook user, getting screwed paying $10/month extra by your mobile provider just to post your latest status update? Well for only $5/month you can use our proxy servers and access Facebook without paying AT&T or Verizon another dime!

    • Hartwig says:

      Heres what i would like, offer me the opportunity to have unlimited data and don’t complain when i use unlimited data. Don’t tie a data contract to a voice contract, with unlimited data i don’t need voice. Don’t charge for text messaging which is just high priced data. 50 bucks a month unlimited data. No contract, unsubsidized devices.

      Build out your data network and stop worrying about becoming just a wireless dumb pipe, there is money in it and if you have good service you will make a profit.

      • Hartwig says:

        crap clicked reply rather than having my own rant.

      • jeadly says:

        Yeah, my bill is about $75 a month, $20 for data, $10 for “premium data” (don’t get me started on that crap), and the rest goes toward voice minutes. I use about 20 voice minutes a month. If I didn’t have to buy 1600 voice minutes I wouldn’t use any, but replace them with VOIP over my data connection.

  10. ThinkingBrian says:

    YES in some cases. However I have to say that while right now I have an AT&T GoPhone Android Smartphones that has 3G data and pay a good price for data.

    In the future, when I go to pay per month plans, then yes I would pay $x/month for streaming Netflix or Updating Facebook (social media). But right now I only use my smartphone for surfing normal websites and Google Shopper. If Netflix is an option, I woudl jump on it and others would too if you can stream unlimited via that app. This could be a win-win for customers if it done correctly. But you never know.

    • ThinkingBrian says:

      Correct, I pay a big price for data.

      But if a person really streams Netflix or stays connected to a social media app such as Facebook or Twitter, I see this being a good option so long as your data costs aren’t higher than the per app cost.

  11. RogerX says:

    Nope. How I use my data varies and is entirely my business.

  12. dolemite says:

    “Would you pay more for services that you already pay way too much for?” Ummm. no.

  13. kingofmars says:

    I would like to see content providers subsidize my network traffic when I pay for their services. If I’m buying an album off of iTunes over 3G, why should that count against my data plan? I don’t even mind if iTunes charges me a couple more cents for the privilege.

    • Cat says:

      If I’m buying an album off of iTunes over 3G, why should that count against my data plan?

      Perhaps you should consider downloading that MP3 album or movie over a landline rather than 3g/4g. Wireless is not really unlimited, even if your wireless provider tells you it is.

  14. captadam says:

    Before smartphones, we had kind of smart phones that had an a la carte option for things like navigation, mobile internet, and so on. Basically, you paid $10 per month for each individual service.

    That sucked and was basically worthless. The value of the smartphone is access to everything on the internet and seamless integration between various services.

  15. JonBoy470 says:

    This utterly flies in the face of net neutrality, and would be just another excuse for providers to not build out their infrastructure…

  16. speaky2k says:

    Well, if it means that I can shut off some of those services then yes. I don’t use the Facebook App on my phone, only the version through my web browser. But every time I check what is running, there is Facebook… I shut it down, but it keeps coming back.

    • James says:

      Those services you don’t use still use data when activated accidentally.

      Data that you can be charged for. I’ve got an ‘almost’ smart phone, top of the ones I didn’t need to purchase a data plan to use. If i accidentally hit any of the icons, I see a charge on my bill.

      And no way to disable the icons. I’ve asked, and checked myself online.

  17. SomeWhiteGuy says:

    I say nay, nay! How is this a good idea for the consumer? I know how they will implement this. It’ll be a software flag that will allow unlimited and limited amounts of data. The problem is with people who use only WIFI for their data connection (ME!) and then they push some OTA update that kills all of my apps that I’m not connected to 3G for.

  18. eirrom says:

    I can’t put into words my hatred for this idea. I pay for internet access and then pay extra to use Facebook? Are they kidding? WOW. The world is going to hell.

  19. dicobalt says:

    I won’t even pay for a smartphone so that would be a big no.

  20. GoldVRod says:

    Netflix is going down the toilet, losing customers and content left right and center, and Facebook will go the way that all others before it have gone before it. Remember Livejournal, myspace, Yahoo Buzz, Ping, Orkut etc? Sure FB is the social site du jour but it won’t always be.

    Why would anyone consider building a business model of extra phone tariffs against any website(s) amazes me. These ‘consultants’ are spouting a pile of horseshit.

  21. chemmy says:

    NO. Unlimited* or GTFO

    *5GB data cap may apply if we say so. Because we said so.

  22. vyper says:
  23. nbs2 says:

    I’m going to step outside my comfort zone and say – sort of.

    Ok, I get the whole throttling thing. I don’t like it, and think that ATT implements it in an underhanded and sneaky way, hiding their numbers and trying to simply force unlimited users onto the tiered plans, but I can see some sort of sense behind it for people like me who can easily hit 10GB/m without even thinking about tethering.

    If I was asked to pay $1/m extra to have my netflix use not count against my usage stats, I’d do it. Anything more, and I’d blanch. Of course, not paying the $1 wouldn’t cut off my access, it would just make it part of my running total. by paying that $1, in other words, my monthly use would nominally be somewhere around 1-1.5GB, but my actual use would still be sky high.

    See, ATT, I want to work with you. Now work with me. Or I may need to spend a little more time polling my Sprint friends in a few months.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      If you’re using 10GB a month, AT&T will send a limo to drive you over to the Sprint store. No way you’re a profitable customer consuming that much bandwidth (unless, I suppose, you’re using it all in the middle of the night when the network is empty).

  24. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I don’t have a smartphone yet but I don’t think I would like this very much. I’d rather pay a flat charge. This sounds very much like nickel and dimeing, not to mention messing with net neutrality. Why should they care what I’m looking at? Mind your own bidness, phone companies.

  25. shepd says:

    I don’t know, are you willing to pay more/less for water from the same pipe for different activities, like watering the lawn, making beverages, having a shower, cooking, etc?

  26. MikeVx says:

    All of this price-it-to-the-moon behavior is ridiculous. I’m waiting to see if Republic Wireless is going to work out so that I can ditch my massively-overpriced voice/text plan with AT&T. What very little data I’m likely to use while away from WiFi service won’t make a dent in the apparent Sprint data allowance. To me, it’s a phone with some data capability, not a primary computer and network tool. I’ll got for the plan that works with the way I use such things.

  27. Kevin says:

    Nope. The carriers need to get back to full-speed, unlimited data, which was the foundation upon which smartphone use was built. If I wasn’t grandfathered in on Verizon’s unlimited stuff, I’d go back to a dumb phone.

  28. Not Given says:

    I’m not going to try to stream anything on EasyEdge, just charge less for what little I do use. Also, let me spend minutes for text messages instead of 25¬¢ each extra.

  29. lostalaska says:

    Still waiting for the cell phone’s to get deregulated like normal land line phones were in the 70’s. Since we have bandwidth caps in place for most plans I say we should be able to use the bandwidth anyway we want to without any kind of additional charges to “tether” it to a computer. It seems like a giant step backwards to begin charging for access to individual sites.

  30. dush says:

    Oh wow, you mean a la carte billing? Hear that cable companies!?

  31. twitch201 says:

    No thanks, Give me unlimited or nothing.

  32. Bripanov says:

    No no no no no no. My device is my own and you don’t get to charge per feature. Which is why I buy phones with unlockable bootloaders, unlocked GSM modems, and install CyanogenMod or Replicant first thing.

  33. longhairbilly says:

    Absolutely not!!

  34. videoman says:

    If they don’t like so much bandwidth usage the sales people should be instructed to quit pushing smartphones sales.

  35. rambo76098 says:

    Spectrum crunch is a myth. There is no need for this or any of the other net neutrailty violations cnn and the telecom companies have been mentioning as of late.


  36. Skipweasel says:

    More to the point, I’d like to pay LESS given that I don’t use any data at all on my phone.
    Still – at least we in Europe don’t pay to receive texts.

  37. vastrightwing says:

    If household utilities did this, then you’d pay:

    $1 to wash your hands
    $1.50 to brush your teeth.
    $3 to take a shower
    $6 to flush toilets
    $2.50 to wash dishes
    $10 to drink water and make Koolaid.
    $2 to make ice
    $60 to water the lawn
    $25 to wash clothes

    And then they would meter your water use and make you pay per cubic foot of water on top of that, plus pay a monthly service charge in order to be able to bill you.

  38. maxamus2 says:

    Wow is this asinine. So now they will track every website I go to and bill me accordingly? Yeah, that is something I want. WHO CARES where I go, give me a limit on the TOTAL amount I use.

    Almost like saying I pay different rates for the gas I buy depending on where I want to drive.

  39. axiomatic says:

    NO! Emphatically no. I am a network engineer by trade and businesses are doing their very best to break the core functionality of inter-networking protocols that have existed since DARPA net.

    No I’m not a fan of hacking and the shenanigans of Anonymous… I’m talking about engineering specifications worked on for years to be inter-operable that are now being violated daily for shareholder profit.

  40. u1itn0w2day says:

    Half these Iphone users are stealing free wifi and causing massive configuration issues. They won’t agree to squat.

  41. CyberSkull says:

    Do. Not. Want.