Mobile Data – An Arm and a Leg?

I’m a customer of Rogers Wireless and I have always been deprived of a mobile data plan, and there’s a good reason for it! I found this article while Googling for data plans in Canada. Sure, it was written in April 9th, 2007, so things have had to change since then right?

Well, here’s what Rogers is currently offering in terms of data plans, with a breakdown of cost per megabyte:

$15     2MB        $7.50/MB
$25     500MB    $0.05/MB
$30     1GB        $0.03/MB
$60     3GB        $0.02/MB

Seems pretty reasonable right? Well, 6.9 million iPhones were sold in Q42008 globally, and the iPhone is a rather data-intensive device. It’s advertised to play streaming videos with ease, play games, and keep you connected.

But streaming videos can be one of the greatest consumers of bandwidth – just ask YouTube. So I decided to test it out – just how much data would YouTube consume? To do this test, I measured the amount of data used in one minute (1:00) of a YouTube video. Here are the raw results:

Start       End        Difference
418.40    424.00    5.60
428.00    433.80    5.80
440.20    446.20    6.00
447.10    453.20    6.10
454.20    460.20    6.00
461.40    469.60    8.20
469.60    479.10    9.50
480.70    484.50    3.80
485.50    491.50    6.00
493.30    499.30    6.00

The most left hand column represents the total amount of bandwidth transferred to my computer (Apple Macbook), which started at 418.40, so I merely recorded the difference. The middle column represents the total amount of bandwidth transferred to my computer after a minute of a YouTube video playing. The last column is the difference of the first two columns, giving you the amount of data used up within one minute.

I eliminated the two outliers and came up with an average of 6.21MB/min. Sounds like a big number, eh? Well, here’s what that means for you:

  • On a 500MB/month data plan ($25) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 80 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. Even sooner if you use your data elsewhere. ($0.31/min)
  • On a 1GB/month data plan ($30) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 160 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. ($0.19/min)
  • On a 3GB/month data plan ($60) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 483 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. ($0.12/min)

Doesn’t this seem expensive for you? We’re in an age where data should be at our fingertips, without restrictions, 24 hours a day, 7 days aweek. Yet here in Canada, Rogers has the ability to place bandwidth caps on the Internet, remove features that compete with their services from mobile phones, and create very expensive data plans.

Are we going to continue paying an arm and a leg in order to receive a mediocre service? Digg this.