Saturday, November 8, 2014

Lessons in Telecom Portion Control


            Greetings from Leuven, Belgium where I am spending two weeks of my sabbatical at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT.  See https://www.law.kuleuven.be/icri/en/about.
While one can learn many things in Flanders, I will limit this post to the concept of portion control. 

            You won’t see many wide bodies in Belgium thanks to portion control.  But you won’t see many triple digit monthly wireless bills either.  Simply put, there is little tolerance for excess: most folks bring their own device and opt for pre-paid plans.  Many carriers and resellers in Belgium offer 200 voice minutes, unlimited texting (no portion control there!) and 1 Gigabyte of data for 20 Euros per month, which converts to about $25 USD.  Plus or minus, this rate stands at about half what we typically pay in the U.S. 

            Why? How?  Portion control!  Few consumers have an appetite for unmetered, all you can eat plans.  I did not see many students at KU Leuven immersed in their wireless devices, or engaged in multi-tasking. Even their beer comes in humble 25 and 33 centiliter bottles (8-11.2 ounces).

            So if you can live with, or embrace portion control, you can halve your wireless budget.

            Of course there is a rebuttal to this rosy scenario, particularly for high volume, “power users” who may or may not like buffets, especially ones on cruise ships and Las Vegas. For these folks, the U.S. offers the lowest price, whether measured on a per minute, per text or per megabyte basis.  

            Perhaps there is something constraining and anathema to the U.S. credo in portion control.  Why tolerate a limit?  Why drive with 4 cylinders when 6 will do the job better? My dear wife introduced portion control in my life and I know I’m better off as a result.

            Just keep me away from a cruise ship and Vegas.

1 comment:

chris said...

Let us know if you're coming through London? That 200 minutes (5000 minutes on your own network), 5000 texts, 500MB in UK is £6.50 - about $11/month. Or buy 10 plans and spend the same as in the US? Except there are only 3000 waking minutes in a month...