BLOGGER: ERIC M. DANIS
What can you do in four minutes? Well, if you are Madonna or Justin Timberlake, you can apparently save the entire world. Another way to kill four minutes is to work out, or you could decide to burn through your entire data plan. Wait, what?
Maybe you’ve heard the news that Apple has introduced its new 4G iPad. The prospect of a faster-than-a-speeding-bullet 4G LTE data connection is certainly tantalizing, but Will Oremus over at Slate reminds us of the potential Kryptonite:
“Life in the fast lane ain’t cheap. With an advertised top download speed of up to 73 megabits per second, the top-of-the-line iPad could theoretically burn through a basic 2-gigabyte-per-month data plan in about four minutes. But oh, how delicious those four minutes would be!”
Oremus goes on to note that it’s unlikely that anyone would really burn out their entire plan in only four minutes, but his overall point is a solid one: millions of users will soon possess a super-fast device capable of downloading huge amounts of data, and yet the data plans for the new iPad will remain the same as the carriers’ current plans (with no unlimited options). “That’s pricey enough that many users of the next-gen iPad will likely ignore its mobile data capabilities” and continue relying on Wi-Fi, says Oremus.
It seems the data crunch problem just won’t go away. According to MIT’s Technology Review, Apple’s new tablet is going to place “significant new demands” on 4G networks that have only been lightly used, which will deplete bandwidth. “Many users may also get their first taste of what it is like to bump up against the data limits that are now a standard part of wireless contracts.”
There are no simple answers, but as industry blogger Jeff Barak recently noted, there is a tremendous need to make networks smarter and more efficient, so that service providers can continue to satisfy consumers who are ravenous for data without bankrupting them. Fast data consumption from anywhere may be in vogue, but customers shouldn’t have to be a material girl (or boy) to afford it.