Significant BYOD flaw discovery: Mobile data charges

Significant BYOD flaw discovery: Mobile data charges

Summary: My dreams of an all BYOD-enabled world came crashing down along with my Internet access. I realized that there's gold in those data charges.

TOPICS: Mobility

A week of vacation, an Internet outage and some surprise data charges from my children's cell phones made me realize that there's a significant problem with BYOD: Data charges. If you work in a BYOD-enabled company and you're paying your own bill, then you'd better renegotiate your deal. Paying $20, $30 or $50 extra per month for a required data plan is ridiculous and we, as a customer collective, need to revolt against this egregious pocket-picking by cell phone companies.

Cell phone providers, such as AT&T--my carrier, require a data plan with an iPhone (possibly all smart phones) and they charge you for it. Plus, there's no unlimited data plan. So, your AT&T choices are: 300 MB for $20 per month (laughable) or 2GB* for $30 per month (reasonable). Oh, yes, and I could go with a 5GB plan for an extra $50 per month if I want to do tethering with my iPhone. Awesome.

You require me to have a data plan and then charge me a lot for it. Great gig that.

I need to come up with a business where I can force my customers to pay me even more money. The basic rate is about $79 per month and then you add in your required data plan. Hey, what's that other $79 for? You also have to pay for text messaging. We have the unlimited plan because we have teenagers and it's a requirement. So, AT&T extracts a great deal of money from me each month for the privilege of having iPhones, which are basically music player and texting apparatus for our family. I have so many rollover minutes that we'll never use them. Who actually talks on their phones anymore?

AT&T should charge us for voice calls and let us have texting and data for free. But, they don't see it that way. Of course, for the time being, they're making a bundle of money with all of these extra charges. I feel that the $79 price tag for the privilege of having a phone is a bit steep too. Wouldn't $29 per month be a fair price? I think so, especially for as little as I get from the phone company.

But, phone companies are like oil companies--what choice do we have? OK, you don't have to have a smart phone. You don't have to buy gasoline. The alternatives are difficult and not pleasant, so we all bite the bullet and pay the extremely high prices for gasoline and for smart phone usage.

I think, as an alternative to my radical free plan, that there should be an unlimited data plan available for a reasonable cost (Say, $20 per month) and 5GB or less should be free of charge. Tethering should certainly be a free feature too.

The bottom line here is that for a BYOD environment, you're looking at the risk of very high data charges because data usage is unpredictable. Hopefully, most of the data used will be via WiFi but there's a good chance that some of your work will be via 3G/4G. For example, during an Internet outage like I experienced during my vacation. It would have been really handy to have had tethering available so that I didn't miss a very important web demonstration for a project that I'm working on. But, that extra $50 per month is unpalatable for me.

So, the solution is to place customer pressure on the cell phone companies to provide us more affordable pricing for smart phone use. How we do that is obvious or should be obvious. There's no loyalty to customers so let's not have any loyalty to the providers. We'll switch, if you don't meet our needs. The phone companies figured out that this could happen and made you sign a two-year service contract when you purchased your smart phone.

The other alternative to smart phone technology, for me, is to buy an iPod and use Skype, HeyTell or some other free alternative for the rare phone call that I make. No 'G' network access required for either of those and I can still text and take pictures.

I'm tired of being screwed over by utility companies and the phone companies seem to be the worst of all. OK, oil companies are the worst, followed closely by phone companies. BYOD is supposed to be a liberating shift in our technology-oriented world, not an enslaving one. I don't want to fret every time I see my wireless bill nor do I want to spend hours on the phone every month disputing and adjusting charges with the phone company--which we've had to do every month since we've had the darn things.

I want to pay a reasonable fee for the service I receive. The phone companies can still make a profit and give us what we need in exchange.

What do you think? Have you seen your data charges go insanely high since you started using your own devices for work? How do you think we should resolve the problem? Talk back and let me know.

*Now, it seems that AT&T has raised the 2GB to 3GB. However, mine is still set to 2GB. Go figure.

Topic: Mobility


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Amazing the differences by country

    Where I live, I get 250 call minutes, free unlimited data, free text messaging and can tether my phone to my laptop - for about $16 a month.

    Sadly for you, I am in the UK.
    • Similar in Germany

      I can also shop around, but flatrate data is an under $10 addition and if you bring your own phone, the prices are even cheaper.
      • Missing the author's flaw...

        ...if you're going to choose an over-priced handset (and yes, relative to the rest of the smartphone market, it IS over-priced), you can expect carriers to charge an arm and a leg for the privilege of using said device. Apple's margins are so high, relative to the likes of Samsung and HTC, that carriers have to charge more. I forget which blogger on ZDnet wrote an article about why iPhone subsidies from Apple MUST start happening to avoid consumers being turned off by the disproportionate costs associated with that handset (think it was Adrian KH). Massive comments section argument ensued with Apple fans stating there was no need for subsidies to be introduced and everyone else writing off Apple's future success if they didn't lower their own margins. The point remains, if Ken had plumped for a Windows Phone, Blackberry or even a low-end Android device, the argument would essentially crumble. BYOD has challenges, to be sure. Associated data charges as described here are the least of the problems. If YOU want to use your iDevice and not the cheaper and more managable (from the IT depts perspective) company owned Windows device, YOU should expect to pay the premium for said device.
      • Just love drive-by down-voters who cannot be bothered... compose a cogent post explaining their point of view. Nope just so much easier to click the minus. I'm happy in the knowledge that you have the mental abilities of a bowl of watered down cabbage soup.
    • $

      Don't you mean ?? ? and I doubt you can get true unlimited data for that either. I bet you got a fair use policy on that. 3 is probably the only true unlimited tariff on the one plan which sets you back about ??25 and is the only tariff that supports unlimited tethering. Unless you point to the tariff I'm quite sceptical
    • difference by country

      Yes, might be amazing but you also pay a much higher tax rate, have much more government involvement/regulation in your personal and public lives and various business sectors (telecomm) and a much higher level of government involvement in setting standards for what is deemed fair at a business level. I would rather keep my prices high where they are now and let the consumer push the company in the right direction then to have to deal with big brother and faceless, nameless, non-elected bureaucrats having the power to make all these "what is fair/not fair" decisions for me. I'm also willing to bet, but not sure of it, that if you read the very fine non-advertised print for your plan you might have unlimited data in name only. It probably has an unspoken limit or is throttled after a limit is reached etc. How much more do you pay in taxes and freedoms voluntarily given up so that the government can regulate and subsidize areas of this type for you? That is kind of like saying that your public transportation is great. But at what expense? Low personal ability to own a vehicle because they are expensive, heavily taxed and fuel costs 8+$ a gallon?
      • Regulated freedom

        You might be surprised, how many of your "freedoms" are available in other countries as well.

        What is reall surprising is how many freedoms, we in the "heavily regulated" EU lose, when we come to America.

        Germany is renowned for its regulations and following them, but I have several friends who did exchange trips to the USA in the 80s, 90s and 2000s and they were all amazed at the restrictions on their normal lifestyle that were put upon them, whilst they were staying there.

        The USA also has a lot of lobbying by big business, which means that most laws that do get past benefit business to the detriment of the actua citizens, which the government is supposed to represent.

        Most EU countries, on the other hand, don't allow such blatant corruption of officials, or it happens on a much smaller scale, which means that a lot of the laws and regulations that get past actually put restrictions on business to benefit the citizens the government is supposed to represent.

        It isn't perfect, but I'd rather live under German regulations than the supposed "freedom" of the USA, of which most of the "freedoms" previous generations have enjoyed have been stripped away since 9/11 attacks.

        For example, Germany is not allowed to drone their citizens, in the USA, they don't even need to find the US citizens guilty of a crime in a court of law, before they can be droned...

        A lot of the big legislation that has gone through in the USA over the last couple of years, which hardly gets a mention in the mainstream news and press, is really scary - and that isn't to mention the (un)Patriot(ic) Act, which effectively means that cloud services in the with office or data centers in the USA cannot be used outside of the USA, without the prospect of the user being liable to prosecution, becuase the cloud provider hands over their data to the federal government without them needing to present the provider with a court order!
    • It's even more amazing!

      I'm in the process of moving from the UK to the States and it's a real shock to find out how expensive the mobile phone services are over there. They also have to pay for incoming calls and text messages too!!
      • I never understood

        how the US networks could get away with such a laughable policy. I guess Barnum was right.
  • Consumerization: BYOD

    "...We???ll switch, if you don???t meet our needs...."
    unfortunately we, the customers, do not have much choice either.
  • RE: Flaw

    "We have the unlimited plan because we have teenagers and its a requirement."
    Really? I remember being a teenager, and I had a happy life with no cell phone and no texting and no Internet. Even with the phone, there's this thing they do - "making a call". It allows you to talk to anyone you could text to. And usually unlimited calling is included in your existing plan - you don't have to pay extra. What a concept! I think I've sent 2 texts in my life, and so far I haven't fallen apart.
    If you want to spoil your children, that's fine. But don't whine about it and act like it's required. It's not.
    You could do what my parents did (and a lot of other people I know). Tell the kids that if they want an iPhone, or some other expensive toy, that they're welcome to buy one. All they have to do is earn the money for it. Besides teaching them about the world of gainful employment, and managing your own money, it teaches them the value of things. If they have to pay for it, then they're much less likely to lose it or break it.
    As for your "plan" to get cell phone providers to lower their prices, it won't work. Why? Because customers already have no loyalty to a particular provider. Customers go where the price is cheapest. This is how Walmart became so huge. And this is why the providers charge as much as the traffic will bear. Your only options are A) Find a provider who charges less, or B) live without it. Pick one.
    • Agreed.

      "I remember being a teenager, and I had a happy life with no cell phone and no texting and no Internet."

      Same here. I don't really understand why some people are obsessed with giving teens everything they want, especially cell phones.

      My parents never gave me any tech - they told me to buy it. If I couldn't afford it, I had to either live without it or use my own money.
      • dito

        Same here.. buts thats before pre credit lifestyles became the norm.
    • iPhone 3s are free

      So, the "buy your own" thing doesn't work.
      • You just simply do not get it... you.

        The phone may be free...but the line & data charges are still there. So what's your point?

        Where does it say the little buggers NEED a telephone. The others are correct in saying that if children want a cell phone, then get a job to pay for it.

        When I see 9 year olds...and younger...riding on their bicycles...YAPPING ON CELL really drives me nuts. I would like to slap their brain-dead parents upside the head.

        People like you are not instilling good values to your children, when they are handed everything they want..."because all the other kids have one."

        You are simply breeding ANOTHER generation of whining little snots, who feel they are entitled to everything...because you GAVE it to them, and they have no real sense of value.

        A large majority of people under the age of 50 already act that way...and you are not helping to end it...only perpetuating it.
      • it_fella

        That is a massive leap, going from relevance regarding actual costs vs a generalization about "entitlements"... though I am not suggesting you're wrong, either...
      • data costs

        Sure, the device is free, but usage isn't. If your kid got a free car would you just pay for all their gas, insurance, and maintainance costs? Why are you going to pay for their data plan?
      • Actually, it does.

        Actually, it does. Because they pay their own data plan too.
      • If the iPhone 3 is "free", try to get one without the carrier's plan.

        Then, come back and tell us how successful you were.

        Fact is that, "ain't no such thing as free", and your smartphone may be "free" or heavily discounted, but, the real cost is figured into the plan which you will be "paying" for, through the nose.
    • thank god we live in a country that values hard work

      And rewards hard working and enthusiastic people with wages and opportunities