Pity the smartphone salespeople and consumers who need graduate degrees in number theory to decipher wireless-carrier rate plans.
Choosing a rate plan, and comparing it to competing plans, requires as much effort as researching and committing to a home mortgage. Why should it take as much effort, if not more, to choose a family plan that might cost $300 per month as it does to choose a mortgage that costs $3,000 per month for 30 years?
This does not compute.
Take Sprint’s Family Share Pack — not that I’m singling Sprint out. Everyone is guilty. Round up the usual suspects!
The Share Pack includes multiple plans with shared data buckets ranging from 600MB to 60GB. The cost of shared-data buckets range from $20 for 600MB up to $225 for 60GB for up to 10 phones. All lines also get unlimited talk and text, which costs another $25 per line per month for unsubsidized phones — if the phones’ data bucket ranges from 600MB to 16GB. The $25 per line fee drops to $15 per line if the user chooses 20GB to 60GB data buckets. Customers who opt for subsidized contract phones pay $40 per line per month.
It reminds me of the 1970s when AT&T, then the government-sanctioned telephone-network monopoly, charged users for local calls based on “message units.” We had no calculators then, just slide rules. We’ve come a long way.
I see a market for a smartphone app that reaches out to the Cloud to download the latest rate-plan information, asks you to input a few parameters, and then automatically calculates the monthly costs of competing plans. Once the consumer sorts out the best plan by price, he can then focus on choosing a carrier based on the amount of included high-speed data (versus 2.5G data), 4G network speed, 4G coverage, and reliability.
People would pay for that app. I would.
I know there’s a math whiz out there who is up to the task.