Sprint introduces $10 smartphone premium
Robust OS? That will be a tenner a month
American operator Sprint is to start charging customers $10 a month extra if they're using a smartphone, as it attempts to even the playing field for data users.
Sprint reckons smartphones use, on average, ten times the data of more-intellectuality-challenged handsets, so from the end of January all new activations will be subject to an additional Hamilton* very month to cover the cost of all that data. Sprint calls this its "Premium Data Add-On".
The tariff was already being added to the operator's 4G handsets, with the provision of faster access over the WiMAX network, but now any handset with smarts (the release lists Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm and the Instinct family) will have to cough up extra too.
"This is responsible, sustainable and reflects our commitment to simplicity and value" explains the operator, who suggests that those balking at the additional fee might like to check out the "full range of traditional feature phones, including popular eco-friendly or touch-screen handsets that do not require the Premium Data add-on charge but still have a great range of capabilities with voice, text and data access".
Flat-rate billing is obviously unfair to the light user, but the overloading of data networks is usually attributed to dongles: laptops consume an awful lot more data than the smartest of telephones, though the difference is becoming less acute.
Users may hide their smartphones, changing the HTTP User Agent to make the smartest of phones look dumb, but the network knows the handset's serial number, which can be traced to a make and model if Sprint can be bothered. Odds are that it won't bother, as long as the majority coughs up the new fee. ®
* Alexander Hamilton graces the non-green side of the $10 greenback.
There is a simple solution to this
Charge by the GB usage, e.g. < 1Gb, $2, up to 5Gb at $4 per Gb, everything in excess $10 per month. Simple. Lite users don't get penalised, everyone else pays for what they use with heavy users getting punished.
All these plans, tarriffs etc. just seem like an elaborate con job. A few years back 3G was meant to be the future, everyone would discard their fixed line broadband and walk away into a wireless sunset. The recent headlines suggest mobile operators have been caught out by their own success and somehow it means customers must pay more and more for less and less.
Well, I won't be switching to Sprint then...
...even though I am unlikely to be affected by this change. I use a mobile for two reasons and two reasons only: as an actual telephone and as an SMS device. Never really saw the need for much else. My middle-aged eyes just have no desire to view any program on a 4-ish inch screen. I already have a GPS device and I seldom find the need for internet-on-the-go --- certainly not for what any carrier charges for that.
This fee business has gotten completely out of hand here in the US. I have no problem paying for what I use - that's only fair. However, there are now so many BS fees/charges/taxes that cause my monthly bill to be a full 25% higher than it already should be. That's just legalized robbery. I can't tell them to fuck off because every OTHER available carrier is doing the same thing. And they're doing it because the moron politicians allow it. [/rant]
I can only comment from a UK perspective, but US$10 is much more than anyone here would pay for a basic (read around 500MB) data "add on" (if you'd pay anything at all). Comparing US carrier websites with my own UK tariff (600 mins, unlimited texts and 500MB data) which has a total cost of £10/month including VAT (tax) (total US$16), there's only one conclusion... you guys really get scr**ed on phone charges!