Burning through your data plan … in four minutes?

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.

6 Comments

  1. Posted March 15, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    “Hello new iPad user, look at your data plan, now look back at your iPad, now look at your data plan, hey it is gone” ;-)

  2. Stephan Neuner
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Hey, reading that, you know, I’m more indulgent with Apple now. When I saw Apple’s new iPad and realized that only the US can profit from the 4G connection built into it (rest of world uses other 4G frequencies, not supported by Apple) I asked myself what kind of marketing that is from Apple. Now, so it seems to me, Apple is in favor of it’s European customers: their data plan will last many days (thanks to the slow connections available) and we don’t have to use the stop watch when playing around with our favourite tech gadget! Isn’t that wonderful?

  3. Jessica Zimet
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    OMG I can’t believe you actually linked to Madonna videos. I got an iPad without 3G (or 4G) for exactly this reason: dataphobic, or fear of EOM bill shock.

  4. Radu Tomescu
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Given current technology, access speeds championed by the new Ipad imply data plans in the range of USD100-120/month. Sipping latte at Starbucks while streaming video over LTE into your tablet has a network-cost that the industry avoids mentioning (Apple included) since you likely won’t pay it. Prepare then for artificially-lowered bandwidth prices to bring upon us all kinds of abominations, such as dynamic access throttling and ridiculously-minuscule monthly bandwidth quotas.

  5. Eric Danis
    Posted March 18, 2012 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    Shai, you had me laughing out loud.
    Stephan, way to find the silver lining in every cloud.
    Jessica, please “don’t preach” about my Madonna videos ;)

  6. Eric Danis
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 5:04 am | Permalink

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