Wireless cheaper, but mobiles still in the cold

With wireless internet prices dropping it’s time to ask your mobile phone provider some hard questions. PAUL WALLBANK

Paul Wallbank Tech Talk blog

By Paul Wallbank

Last week Telstra BigPond joined Virgin Mobile in introducing shaped plans to their wireless internet service. This means subscribers no longer risk massive bills if they go over their data allowances.

Instead of being charged an exorbitant fee for going over a monthly limit, a user on a shaped plan pays a fixed monthly amount and has their internet connection slowed when they exceed their rations.

This is a welcome move, as I pointed out in a blog entry last April, the risk of big bills is the biggest block for wireless internet adoption. Now there’s a maximum spend per month, it’s far more likely businesses and home users will start using these services.

Frustratingly, these shaped plans are not available for mobile phone users. This is despite the services being identical.

It might be worthwhile asking your telco why profit gouging of mobile phone customers is acceptable, and why they see the need to expose their business client to the risks of huge bills.

If that risk is taken away people will flock to the product, as we’ve seen with the BlackBerry where most mobile phone providers don’t charge for data accessed through the BlackBerry service.

Until there is some sort of limit on mobile web surfing bills, few Australian businesses and households will take advantage of this wonderful productivity tool.

If you are a subscriber to Telstra’s mobile internet service, you need to contact them to change your plan, as Telstra, like all telcos, will not automatically switch you to the better offer. If you aren’t a Telstra customer, then it’s best to wait as the other telcos will be forced to make a similar offer in the next few weeks.

Pricing aside, mobile internet is a fantastic business tool and the enterprises using these services properly are going to have the edge over their competitors in the coming slow times.

It’s a good idea to have a look at how mobile broadband can help your business and ask what your mobile phone company and internet service providers can do for you.


Paul Wallbank is Australia’s most heard computer commentator with his regular computer advice spots on ABC Radio. He’s written five computer books and just finished the latest Australian adaptation of Internet for Dummies. Paul founded and built up a national IT support company, PC Rescue and has a free help website at IT Queries. Today he spends most of his time consulting and advising community and business groups on getting the most from their technology.

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