In a typical month I fork over about four hundred and fifty dollars to Telstra for the four telecommunications products that I use. That includes one ADSL mobile service, one dial-up service and two mobile services. In the case of the mobile services I occasionally use the wireless access at Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne airports and GPRS if I am in a tight spot.
In the case of GPRS I’ve used it mostly to send an occasional outgoing e-mail, use MSN Messenger (cheaper than SMS apparently) or look up a bus timetable when that information is available by no other means. The reason I don’t use it more than that is because it costs so damned much.
If I were to do a hypothetical and say I wanted to sync up my Inbox while I am sitting here on the bus it would cost approximately eleven dollars, and thats not even factoring in protocol overheads. If I wanted to make this a morning ritual on the way into work (assuming a twenty day work month) it would cost in excess of $220 dollars per month. That is more than twice as much as my (overpriced) ADSL subscription for one thirteenth of the data.
Other providers do offer cheaper data rates, but that would only cut the price in half. It seems like Telstra and other carriers seem determined to charge for telecommunications like it is a luxury item when in fact it is an essential service for modern society.
What do I think they should charge? Well, I think they should start with all you can eat GPRS data for around twenty dollars per month for a 9.6Kbps connection, and move up from there for faster services. Obviously with the price coming down over time.