Mobile data charges: We risk making the same mistake of climate change scientists by choosing extreme use cases


Most of us agree that Climate change is a risk. We want to leave the world a better place for our children and for that, action is needed else we will end up losing the current ecosystem. However, Climate change scientists have been on the back foot recently since they chose to publicise the dangers of Global warming by choosing extreme use cases.

Specifically, the claim that the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035 by the IPCC was unfounded and not based on real research

Extreme use cases (like Himalayan glaciers melting away) get headlines (even when they are wrong!) .. But as we can see, they do damage to the real issue(Climate change) in the long run

There is a lesson for this as we start to discuss mobile data charges and ‘unlimited’ data charges.

The BBC reported on a headline grabbing article from research conducted by Which magazine which says that a person was charged £41,000 after downloading a television programme onto his phone when roaming ..

This got headlines .. but seriously .. what is the use case here?

Who wanted to download whole movies when roaming and why?

Sadly, it takes us away from a more useful use case of accessing mobile services on the go in a transparent but not necessarily ‘unlimited’ mode.

There is a big difference between ‘transparency’ and ‘unlimited’

For example, when I go to France I get a message like this

Welcome to FRANCE. Vodafone Passport calls cost 75p per call + your

home rate (inc bundled mins) to make and receive. SMS’s are 11p. Data

is 0.5p per KB up to 1MB (£4.99 inc vat). The next 24MB is free then

£4.99/25MB. Sessions reset at 00:00GMT. Call 4636 for free pricing

info & 112 for emergency svcs

While we could say that this message could be improved a bit .. but for most of us this is ‘good enough’ i.e. we CAN live within this limit. If you were just checking text based emails , you would most likely stay in the 1M(£4.99 / day) limit. Which is fair ..

Now, one could say: Does that mean we will be stuck to low data usage when roaming forever?

The optimist in me says that this is where normal competitive positioning within Operators will play out. Ex: Vodafone will offer a ‘special deal’ when I can go to Spain and upload pictures/videos etc for a different price plan perhaps in the holiday season. Others will follow. This is normal competition

However, I fear that focusing on use cases like ‘downloading movies when roaming’ will do more harm than good in the longer term(BBC headlines not withstanding).

It may well be a ‘Himalayan’ blunder!

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