End of fixed-price data plans may be near
By Justus Bender, Globe Correspondent | August 25, 2010
The days when smartphone users could pay a fixed monthly price and surf the Internet as much as they want may be coming to an end.
According to an international survey of 391 mobile industry executives in 55 countries, including the United States, many want to move away from flat-rate pricing for data services and start charging for the amount of information that is transmitted, much in the way that long-distance telephone callers used to pay by the minute. Users who download more movies or spend more time on the Internet would tend to pay more if that happens.
In the survey, released Monday by the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer LLP of London, 47 percent of the executives said flat-rate data plans damage their ability to grow revenues, and 55 percent said consumers can expect so-called tiered pricing in the future.
Thirty-seven percent said downloads of smartphone software tools and games, known as "apps,'' will become a primary revenue source within three years, exceeding voice and video downloads.
According to Freshfields, the survey results mark "the beginning of the end'' for flat-rate pricing.