Mobile : Europe & Unlimited Data Plans
Do you ever search for a blog post you made a year or two ago and can't find it, only to realize that your ranted and raved to all your friends in person about the subject and you didn't actually blog it?
Well, hey, when I lived in Ireland from Sept of 2005 to Oct. of 2006, I ranted and raved frequently about the lack of unlimited data plans for mobile phones from Irish and UK carriers. I thought I blogged about it, but I guess I just tortured anyone who would listen to me...
When I signed up for a monthly plan with Vodafone Ireland, the maximum amount of data I could get was 6 mb for 18 euro! Yikes...
Jen, what do you mean by data plan? All the better to MoBlog with. To be able to send photos from my phone to Flickr or this blog, I need either internet data or email data, both covered under a data plan. I can easily blow through 6 mbs a day, let alone a month! In August of 2007, with my Nokia N95, I used over 152 mbs of data, thus an unlimited data plan is necessary.
Let me compare my plans that I had in the US vs. Ireland...
My US AT&T plan was 650 minutes of talk time, free AT&T/Cingular mobile to mobile minutes, unlimited nights and weekends and free MMS mesages for $39.95 a month, plus an unlimited data plan (internet & email) for $24.95 a month, and all SMS/text messages at $0.10 a message. A very good plan. It averages out to about $75 a month or so.
My Vodafone.ie plan was 50 minutes of talk time (yes, 50 mins for the whole month!), no in network mobile to mobile minutes, no free nights & weekends, MMS at .25 euros a MMS ($.32 US), and SMS/text for .10 euro ($.125) all for about 55 to 60 euro per month. If I wanted a data plan, for internet & email, it was 18 euro ($22.50) for 6 mb. Any kbs over the 6 mb was charge at a high tariff rate. My bill averaged 74 euro a month ($92)!!!! Rip off Ireland! Rip off Vodafone. And this does not include the TROUBLE I have have in the last 9 months trying to cancel my plan (1 letter and 3 phone calls, each time assured the plan was canceled and my card reimbursed, but not. And the next month charged again).
In talking to my Irish and British friends, there was not an unlimited data plan with any of the mobile phone carriers / network providers. T-Mobile brought in the idea of unlimited data plan to the UK for 74 pounds a month in late 2005 or early 2006. But none of the other carriers picked up the idea.
Back to my ranting and raving, I could not believe that the European mobile network providers / carriers did not offer unlimited data. The irony to me was that phones in Europe were much more advanced than what one could get in the US, but the features could hardly be used by the average person at the usurious rates charged by the mobile carriers. Whereas in the US, the mobile handsets may have been crap or an year or two behind Europe, but one could get a real, true unlimited data plan for cheap. Odd, but true.
Thus, I ran around Ireland and the UK predicting doom to the carriers to anyone who would listen. I told folks that the European market was ripe for some pushy, big American company to come in and wipe their market clean with a real, cheap unlimited data plan and upset the gridlock with the UK / IE carriers.
Thanks Steve, for bringing my prediction to fruition, even if a year or two late. I thought T-Mobile would be the one to blow the market open, but instead it is Mr. Jobs and the folks at Apple.
On Tues. Sept, 18, 2007, Steve Jobs and O2 in the UK announced the roll out of the iPhone in the UK with an unlimited data plan on the O2 network. Though the data plan is labeled unlimited but you can only download 1,400 internet pages a day, so there is a limit.
This BBC news article announces the iPhone & O2 , and then does a price & feature comparison between the iPhone / O2 in the UK with the Nokia N95 and rates the N95 as the better mobile device for your money and features. While as a Nokia N95 owner, I must agree with the BBC, I do give Mr. Jobs and Mr. O2 kudos for opening up an affordable mobile web to the average Joe & Joette.