Wednesday, 2 January 2008

BarCampLondon3 video: mobile data - what's "fair use"?

It's taken me an age to process and upload the videos I recorded of various BarCampLondon3 sessions on 24 & 25 November 2007.

Here's the first, with the slides embedded below so those interested can follow them while watching the video.

It's about fair use in the context of flat rate mobile data price plans. Namely, price plans offered by mobile phone network companies where you pay a fixed amount every month for supposedly "unlimited" data (Internet - email, web etc) usage, but in their terms & conditions your usage is subject to "fair use".

I.e. they call it "unlimited" but if you use "too much" of your upload / download bandwidth they can cut you off or charge you extra.

Which isn't "unlimited" as far as I'm concerned!

To me, mobile network companies offering "unlimited" data plans with a "fair usage" restriction are as bad as broadband ISPs which offer "high speed" services but advertise only their top speeds whether or not actually achievable for the individual user, particularly when it's not spelt out in large print what they mean by "fair use", which could differ from company to company.

The powers that be are clamping down on the broadband ISPs and I hope they'll start doing the same for "unlimited" mobile plans, which really should be called "X MB a month" tariffs or the like.

Anyway here's the talk and discussion led by Sam Machin, who works for a mobile network operator but spoke in a personal capacity, on what is "fair use" in the context of flat rate mobile data price plans, and how usage under fixed rate or flat rate tariffs for data might be dealt with so as to be fair to consumers and network operators both. Thus it should be of interest to mobile service providers as well as users. As you can tell it's a subject close to my heart, from a consumer viewpoint, but I'll do a full post on the subject in future...

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