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Android Headliner: Carriers Double the Data, but is it enough?

October 4, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

This week, we saw AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon double their data plans. While T-Mobile kept theres at 2GB, 3GB, 5GB and unlimited data. It was nice to see these three carriers double their data caps for no additional cost. But more importantly, what this showed us is that carriers can offer more data, and even offer unlimited data, they just want to keep more money in their pockets. And if I were in the carriers’ shoes, I’d likely do the same thing. Plus, they’ve gotta keep their shareholders happy. So there’s that. But in the increasingly more competitive market that is wireless carriers, is it really enough? Well we’re going to explore that thought in this week’s editorial.

Currently, I’m a T-Mobile customer. And I think a lot of you probably already knew that. But lately, I’ve been looking long and hard about switching to AT&T. Now you may ask, why not Verizon or Sprint. Well if we don’t look at their networks, the big reason is that they are not GSM. I get a lot of unlocked phones from other countries. Like the Huawei Ascend Mate 7. Now I can only stick an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM card in there and get service. Which leaves me with just their carriers and MVNO’s to choose from. With that said, I’ve been looking at AT&T a lot lately and thought about switching to them. However, when I’m traveling for work and such, T-Mobile has proven to be better than AT&T, surprisingly, very surprisingly. But with AT&T dropping prices left, and right, it’s looking nicer and nicer.

Right now AT&T’s big issue is their network. Not their coverage, but they are over capacity. When I was in New York last month for ZTE’s event (this also applies to the Motorola event in Chicago), the area was so overcrowded on AT&T towers, that I was hardly able to even get to 10mbps download speed. Now when I’m traveling I do a lot of hotspotting, because OEMs don’t always have Wifi, same in the airports. So 10mbps may seem like enough for general browsing – which it is – but for hotspotting not so much. Verizon had this issue as well, and may still have it in some areas, but they addressed it with XLTE. Where they opened up another band for LTE allowing more bandwidth in more areas, and that also brings you faster speeds.

So double the data, is that enough for us? No. Here’s why. Networks are getting faster and faster. I remember about 5 years ago, I switched from Verizon to Sprint. Verizon was still 3G at the time, and I thought that my 1mb connection was plenty fast. Now look at it. Now we are looking at speed tests of 10mbps or higher. In fact, on T-Mobile I’m pulling down around 60-70 sometimes. So now that we have faster data, we are using our data faster and faster. Which means we need more data per month. Hence why the carriers got rid of unlimited data.

What I’d like to see is bigger plans at cheaper prices. It really doesn’t cost AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile that much to give us unlimited data. So perhaps they could do tiers. 10GB for $10, 25GB for $25, 50GB for $50, and unlimited for $60 or something like that. Seeing as voice and texts will be over LTE pretty soon anyways, that would be your whole plan. Now those prices probably wouldn’t be accurate, but you get what I’m saying, right?