Which would suit you best: a reasonably average car that you could drive around as much as you wanted to… or a really fast sports car that you could only use for a very limited mileage each month? Does the satisfaction of owning a trendy turbo-charged vehicle make up for the shortcoming of being unable to actually drive it whenever you please?
This car analogy bears a close resemblance to the paradox introduced by telcos (telecommunication companies) in the USA and all around the world, with the introduction of the newest generation of mobile communication technologies, the much anticipated 4G.
The Telco 4G Paradox: Ruining the Web in High-Speed?
Although having high-speed Internet in our smartphones is a welcome change, most 4G data plans available are severely limited for practical usage; usually allowing for as little as 2Gb/month of downloads, with any excess being charged at outrageous extra fees. In order to appease their clients, telcos are trying to reason that 2Gb is a very reasonable quota… as long as the users learn how to rationalize their traffic consumption by following strategies such as:
- Disabling all on-line ads
- Turning off push notification for apps
- Stop images from loading by default
- Avoid watching video streams
- All-around using the Internet like it’s 1999
Here, we’ll overview just how the telco paradox (faster Internet coupled with quite narrower download caps) could be throwing the on-line industries off-balance, especially if there is a rising trend of users who embrace the recommendations on minimizing their traffic usage needs.
Additionally, it will be clarified just why the bandwidth saving advices put forward by telcos mostly boil down to ill-conceived, self-serving rhetoric.
Faster Internet with No Ads: A Dream Come True?
The first case in point may actually sound reasonable to many users. After all… no one really likes being flooded with ads while browsing the internet -- much less if those ads are wasting valuable download caps! So, there’s really no harm done if millions of users just start blocking all on-line advertisements from their mobile devices, right?
Not in the short term perhaps, but the truth of the matter is those adverts are the life blood of internet marketing. Advertisement revenues are the main source of income for most on-line publishers, and without this source of income, many websites would just not be able to afford getting content out for you to read.
Add this to the fact that investment in mobile ads will likely double every year, and you have a recipe for an industry-wide foot-shooting disaster. While ad-free internet may sound like a dream come true to some, it will easily turn into quite a disruptive nightmare, should the majority of mobile users ever start blocking ads.
Who Needs to Update Apps, Anyway?
Next in line, comes the suggestion that users should disable push notifications for their installed apps. In theory, it may not sound like such a big deal; but in practice? Let’s face it, when you’ve installed hundreds of apps on your smartphone, dozens of which you use regularly, it’s just not feasible to have to check manually for updates.
Push notifications to update apps are one of the strengths of smartphones, since they allow keeping the apps fresh and up-to-date with no effort at all. If telecommunications companies just expect us to just start checking manually if our apps are up to date… they’re just inviting people to waste time, to withhold from enjoying the self-updating features of their smartphones, not to mention being subject to security vulnerabilities via outdated apps.
Pictures Are Not Really That Important, Right?
The next piece of genius advice issued by telcos to help their customers minimize data consumption is to disable pictures by default. After all, the internet is jam packed with pictures, and you don’t really need to look at all of them. Most of those pictures are probably of annoyingly fluffy cats anyway, isn’t that so?
This is just where things start getting ludicrous; let’s face it: what is the point of having high-speed internet in the palm of your hand, if you’re supposed to use it to look at websites comprised mostly of text? Who needs fancy HTML5 websites anyway? You might as well grab a newspaper, so you can look at all the pictures leisurely without having to worry about whether you’re wasting your data plan.
Why Stream Video When You Can… Read Text?
Hand in hand with disabling pictures comes the advice of not watching video streams on your smartphone, since we all know that video takes a lot of data. In fact, you can easily waste your month’s 2Gb data cap by spending a couple hours on YouTube watching HD videos.
Granted, being able to stream videos in your smartphone without lag is probably one of the reasons why you wanted to upgrade to 4G in the first place, but hey… in the few times you’ll allow yourself to actually indulge in a bit of video streaming, your friends will surely be impressed. Let’s just hope they don’t ask for an encore, or it might get costly for you!
Seriously though; in an age where video calls are fast becoming a norm, it’s outright shameful that telcos would even suggest that users would avoid streaming video, for the sake of not surpassing their ludicrously low download caps.
Utterly Ruining the Internet… but in High-Speed
Essentially, what modern day telcos seem to be expecting from clients looking to become early adepts of the state of the art high-speed 4G networks… is for those pioneering clients to use the internet like it’s 1999. Never mind the increasingly larger screen real estate available in modern devices; ignore the increase in business-related file sharing, video conferences, and cloud computing. So, what if the future of the internet is sure to be pillared on mobile technologies?
You’re still welcome to take part in the future of mobile communications, but if you want to do it via 4G – get ready to either embrace a minimalist usage pattern…. or otherwise be ready to pay premium for additional data packages.
And if you believe the pretty stories that telcos media departments are weaving about how you can just “use WiFi as alternative to 4G” since it’s available pretty much anywhere… you’re sure to be disappointed, since no matter in how much of a metropolis you live, there will be no WiFi in the times you need it most; just ask Murphy!
Final Thoughts: All Dressed Up, but Unable to Go Very Far
What telcos are doing with the introduction of 4G plans is basically telling users “We’re giving you this really cool sports car… but you really can’t drive it around much! But don’t worry, you can go a little bit further if you avoid these roads here, and if you turn off the engine when going downhill, and maybe you can also push it around a little bit to make it last”.
What is the point? As far as we can see, there is really no use in subscribing to 4G plans until the telcos start offering more reasonable data caps, even if that implies butchering their profit margins for a while.
We don’t know about you, but we’d much rather drive around in a normal car without worrying about how many miles of driving I have left for the month. Likewise, I’d much rather stick to unlimited 3G data plans rather than upgrading to 4G just for the hipster flair of it.
Having more speed and being encouraged not to use it is just a moot point, and it feels outright insulting and shameful that telcos are just encouraging their customers to use their state of the art high-speed internet to browse pared down websites.
What do you think? Will this situation change soon? Make sure to share your comments below.