The idea of unlimited data plans were good for the consumer that wanted to connect via mobile media, maybe a quick video call with Skype or watch a number of YouTube videos while on the move. This need for high bandwidth media while moving around the country might not be ideal in 2011, although 2010 it was easier thanks to unlimited data. This is a strange move considering mobile video is in use more than anytime in the past, although the cost to networks was not acceptable for their profit margins, even if we’ve little insight into the profit margins of Sprint, Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
When the Verizon iPhone 5 gets a release date, expected in September sometime, it will be at a time that’s very different to just 6 months ago. Verizon has changed their data plans to be less consumer-friendly, any new contract taken out will be subject to a set data allowance, although we knew this move was inevitable considering the networks have limitations.
This new era for data plans also opens up possibilities for the very same networks, and while Verizon and AT&T/T-Mobile look to be best placed in the market, any one of these wireless networks could lead with a little innovation. Sprint is the only network that doesn’t have the iPhone and likely not to get the iPhone 5, unless Apple makes a move to open the iPhone to a more global phone, which could be on the cards. T-Mobile could secure Apple’s popular phone by the way of AT&T if the takeover continues.
How could Sprint innovate to attract millions of people to its network? One way is to think of wireless networks as not all cellular based, and think out of the box with the idea of using Wi-Fi networks to operate as a carrier network. This idea comes to us from an article on GIGAOM, which looks at some technological advancements in Japan. KDDI has shown the future of cellular services, and this involves using 100,000 hot spots to create a cellular network that integrates well with KDDI’s 4G network. You can read the full details on this innovation here.
This movement in Japan will mean that KDDI’s cellular network can reduce load by using the Wi-Fi hotspots and a WiMAX overlay, which is a much cheaper way of handling data. Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon are all fighting for control in the United States; it only takes one of these networks to innovate in this way to change the industry for the better.
Share your thoughts on this idea in the comments, would you like to see Japan’s idea brought to the U.S. or UK? How do you feel about an iPhone 5 without an unlimited data plan?