Got an SMS this morning from Three, my current mobile phone provider. As a prepaid 3Skypephone user for the last 12 months, I often get SMS-spammed by them so I was a bit hesitated to open it up. It turns out to contain a great news!
Mobile Internet is now available to you! Surf your fav sites like Facebook & Google on the go!
Then it contains a site that is only accessible from within the 3 network. My Skypephone without Internet access is actually pretty useless -- except for making and receiving phone calls. It's certainly a great news for me! Now I can upload photos and update status on Facebook, read my favourite news sites, blog and Twitter on my phone!
Then I saw the pricing.
Yes you read it right. $5/MB within 3's Broadband zone and $8/MB roaming. I thought I paid Telstra Direct 20 cents/MB 10 years ago was expensive. 3 surely knows how to rip off their prepaid customers!
Well. It does spell a way out. You can either join 3's new prepaid plans at minimum $29/month (used to be my 6 month mobile spending...) to get up to 150 MB of data ($1/MB from the $150 cap value). Or, I can sign up to X-series Essential $5/month to get 20MB of data. There's no way I am jumping to their new caps because even $30/2 months for the old prepaid is excessive to me, as I can never make enough calls to use up all the credit. On the other hand, 20MB with the X-Series is a bit restricting. I've only used the mobile broadband for a day and I can easily swallow 20MB in one day.
... and it appears that prepaid customers cannot sign up other X-Series packages. I'll be just fine if I can subscribe the 1GB/month $20 package -- but Three knows that if it lets it happen, everyone will just jump on prepaid and load it up with data packs, instead of using the much more expensive mobile calls.
Exactly like what John L at Exetel has described -- HSPA mobile broadband is the future, but service providers still want to hold onto the more ludicrous voice calls.
I guess I probably won't hold onto my 3 phone for too long. Not being able to use mobile Internet cost-effectively is getting more and more annoying. I don't make much phone calls -- I just want Internet access anywhere I go, cheaply. Why should I sign up those capped plans when I am making less than 10 minutes of phone calls per month? Subsiding for other heavy users (think about it -- it's what cap plans are all about)?
Exetel's HSPA broadband plans are actually quite attractive at the moment. $25 once off activation fee. $5/month service fee, and only 1.5 cent per MB, charged by your exact usage. Then fairly reasonable mobile call rates, but who cares when you can use VoIP over HSPA.
You do need a HSPA-enabled phone though. Too bad my Skypephone only does UMTS. Have to wait until it dies now...