Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Big Something From Nothing

I read about the iPad announcement yesterday and noted that AT&T will have a two-tiered 3G plan for the device. $15.00 a month for 250 megabytes and $30.00 for unlimited data.

With news stories over the past year or so about consumption based pricing for Internet service, I’ve several times wondered just what kind of bandwidth (if that’s the right word) that I use.

So what do you get from a megabyte?


“An hour of browsing the Web on a mobile phone consumes roughly 40 megabytes of data. Streaming tunes on an Internet radio station like Pandora draws down 60 megabytes each hour. Watching a grainy YouTube video for the same period of time causes the data consumption to nearly triple. And watching a live concert or a sports event will consume close to 300 megabytes an hour.”

A Netflix streaming movie would blow through the 250 megs in AT&T’s cheap plan in one sitting. I’m usually surfing four or five windows at a time while I’m watching a movie, let’s call that another 160 megs. I’m often “consuming” close to a half a gigabyte of internet an hour during the evening. And I don’t know that I’m particularly unusual.

Looking back at how I got to this point, it seems that the media companies, Comcasts, AT&Ts and Verisons of the cyber-world can be equated to drug dealers.

Five years ago, like now, I had DSL at work, a cell phone and home cable; but, a lot of what I did at work back then was off line. Now almost everything I do at work is on line. My cell phone back then actually could surf the Internet, but I didn’t surf – the screen was tiny, the speed was glacial and the on line world didn’t render well given those limitations. Cable Internet was there; but, the content available was minimal. There was no streaming Netflix. Pandora hadn’t come into its own. No Huffington Post. YouTube sprang to life. NYTimes was charging for “premium content.” And so on. Now they and many other content sources are there 24/7.

I, and millions like me, took the candy and became addicted.

Now both the pipeline and content providers, having a growing, hooked audience are upping the price of our drugs. Want the Wall Street Journal, and soon Fox and the NYTimes? That will a few bucks each a month. Oh, and now that you’re streaming all that stuff, the ISPs have their hands out for all that bandwidth you’re using, AT&T is just an early adopter.

I’m not saying they are bad people. I am saying they are good marketers. From nothing, they’ve created a multi-billion dollar stream that we are going to pay more to play in.


Jim Donahue said...

I had no idea how quickly megabytes got gobbled up.

Dave said...

Neither did I. As I'm typing this comment, I have the TV on coming over cable and five windows open on the computer.