It seems like the trend of Optus data price hikes has slowly been reflected in carrier pricing, one of their victims being TPG, which shaved their data offerings, in some cases, hiked the price and killed off free social networking access.
It seems Amaysim isn’t immune to this, having just ported my brother over from TPG Mobile to Amaysim, today, they announced that the Unlimited plan will now go up to $44.90/mo, up from $39.90/mo. Instead, the data allowance will be 5Gb/mo, up from 4Gb/mo, but at the same time, free social media access will no longer be available and will instead count towards your data limit. This applies also for all other plans. These changes take effect 1st September 2014 (in less than 30 days).
The full blog post by Julian Ogrin, MD, is here. Some fairly telling excerpts include:
We’re making amaysim UNLIMITED even bigger than before. From 1 September you’ll get 5GB of data, unlimited standard talk & text and voicemail all in Australia for a slightly higher price of $44.90 per month.
We reckon it’s still the one of the best unlimited mobile deals for one of the lowest prices in Australia. Best of all, you get some data breathing room, making it easy for you to do more of the stuff you love without breaking the bank.
This seems to indicate that many users are heavy users of data and the price increase is needed to cover this. However, it also implies that “breathing room” is data which most users are paying for but will not utilize. They are probably counting on this to get their $5 extra a month.
At the moment we’re working on bringing 4G to our customers, but it has to be at the right price with the right plan to suit people who want good value. In the meantime, we’ve upgraded amaysim UNLIMITED to give you an exceptional value, high-data plan.
Research has shown that more than half of Aussie mobile users won’t be on 4G networks until mid 2015, so until then, great value high data plans are what most people need.
In other words, this is saying that access to 4G is still at a premium which is difficult to justify and or absorb. However, many users already possess LTE capable handsets and moving them off the 3G network will benefit highly congested areas, and yet this is not happening. Remember, it says “more than half of Aussie mobile users won’t be on 4G networks” – depending on the research, this may be because they’re on MVNOs which don’t offer 4G. But remember, even 10-20% of high bandwidth users moved to 4G could make a huge difference to 3G congestion while keeping both camps “happier”.
A larger data allowance on a more “bandwidth limited” technology is likely going to lead to bigger congestion woes, and is not what most users want but is what they can afford.
Now that high data use is such a massive trend, it’s important to keep in mind that data costs can easily blow out even further with 4G. It’s a lot like having a sports car – the speed seems fantastic until you keep running out of petrol and need to pay big bucks to fill up all the time….just to do what you normally do, only faster.
And here’s some sappy commentary to try and make slow speeds seem more desirable. I think it’s rather sad to presume their consumers aren’t able to keep tabs on their data usage and have to rely on the intrinsic slowness of a 3G network to keep their wallet in check. Love the spin, don’t you?
Data usage is also gaining momentum in social media, and the nature of social has changed a fair bit since we launched in November 2010. There’s a lot more video being viewed through social sites. In a nutshell, as more people have spent more timing doing more things on social networks, the costs for us to offer free social media access have gone up…a lot.
We’re honestly sorry that it can’t continue.
Okay, this part I can believe. Very few providers offered it, and of them, most have taken it away. Social media got more popular than they thought, and all those videos ain’t going to make them any money otherwise. But likewise, as the other edge of the sword will dictate, this means that users of social media will see their usage go up, and if their bandwidth usage for social media accounts for more than 20% of their monthly bandwidth, then they will see both a price rise and an effective reduction in their effective data bandwidth.
The reaction in the comments section of the blog post have been overwhelmingly in favour of retaining existing arrangements. I think this is quite an expected reaction, especially when you consider that an extra $5 per month adds up to $60 per year, which if you need calling and texting but never really used up your data allowance, would seem like money spent for nothing. It also puts Amaysim out of the league of “$40/month” unlimited plans, although they do stand out for having the most data available at that price point.
So at the end of the day, it’s an inevitable change no doubt prompted by higher upstream costs, and while we develop insatiable data appetites, we have to remember that wireless bandwidth is a precious resource and contend with the mass of options that offer 1-2Gb (the new “norm”) or pay your $5/month more. It’s still better than the others if that is what you need and if you don’t like it, you can always walk.