Unlimited Plans – Subscribers Dream & Operators Nightmare

Unlimited Plans - Subscribers Dream & Operators NightmareNetwork and spectrum are pretty expensive things. Huge costs go in deploying networks. An operator who is ready to incur costs expects good return on investment.

But the costs are so huge that it takes years for an operator to look at profits. Also they cannot charge heavily for service because they have incurred huge costs. So there is a trade off between what we expect and what we get.

Typically, voice networks are pretty much controlled. Each voice call is given a radio channel and if all the channels in a certain area are occupied user starts feeling the congestion. This was one of the challenges with the voice network that service providers used to face or still facing. Now with data coming in, that challenges have increased many folds.

Data is a best effort service. That is at a given point of time, a user doing data from his mobile may consume more than one channel. Since spectrum is limited, networks easily get choked up. Thanks to 3G, since voice calls are on one radio technology and data on other, at least my voice calls are safe.

Why are unlimited plans a distant dream? Its simple economics! More you give, more they ask. It has been result of many research’s that 5-10% of subscribers that use unlimited plans consume 70-80% of network bandwidth. This certainly is not fair. Assume that in a give region there is geek sitting and consuming all the bandwidth, doesn’t our insanity levels go high? AT&T had burnt its hands with unlimited plans. First the networks are congested, next subscribers are not happy and the result no unlimited plans. Even if the plans are advertised “unlimited”, they are not “truly” unlimited.

The wide variety of mobiles that are available in the market is also adds up to the network congestion. The mobiles should be carefully designed not to burden the network with signaling. With so many applications running on mobile devices the connections are always up and resources are continuously consumed. This is for the exact reason why IPhone developers where give crash course by AT&T.

It’s nobody’s business to tell subscriber how to use what is given to him. But its time users get smart and start utilizing the resources efficiently. Instead of burning the networks with downloading movies on mobile phone why not switch over to wifi? Just a thought!

More to follow! Stay tuned.

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46 Comments on "Unlimited Plans – Subscribers Dream & Operators Nightmare"


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Juned Vazifdar
April 8, 2012 10:00 pm 10:00 PM

Excellent write up, many kudos. You are doing a great job, I think its our Indian mentality to (mis)use something that’s unlimited. I guess in that case operators aren’t left with any option but to give users FUP (but I also feel that service provider should term it as “Unlimited” with it has fair usage policy behind it).

May 5, 2011 12:02 pm 12:02 PM

So I Guess that Mobile Service providers may go up with rates & plans for the Data Usage…

February 3, 2011 2:00 pm 2:00 PM
Nice article. See mobile networks, 3G, is all about last mile connectivity. Surely that’s one of bottle necks due to limited spectrum apart from that big problem remains with content hosting in India. Over 80% sites you visit are yet not hosted in India, and data is transfered from expensive submarine cable networks. Based on data I have – I would say it’s not that submarine cable system is bottleneck, but considering the expensive development of such cable systems – carriers won’t simply give up bandwidth for cheap. They apply demand-supply equation and feel it is good to charge more… Read more »