Significant BYOD flaw discovery: Mobile data charges

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.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

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.

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