Originally published in The Clarion | July 27, 2011
Each day it seems I am reminded more and more just how dependent our society has become on various Internet-related technologies. Whether it’s using social media sites to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones on a daily basis, online banking, stock trading or just for entertainment, the Internet and Web seem to be ruling our world. As technological breakthroughs come about, new content is both created and consumed. It wasn’t that long ago that I recall using text messaging for the first time. Now, for some at least, streaming audio and video on our smartphones has become the norm.
With ever-evolving technologies, it can be interesting to observe ironies in the realms of technology. Over the last several months, there has been a lot of talk about new 4G services from wireless phone providers. We have all seen the commercials about just how great and wonderful the new technology is going to be, insinuating that our lives are about to change forever once the new service is launched. I will be the first to admit that ten-times faster downloads on smartphones and other similar devices does sound nice. Unfortunately though, this is where the irony comes in to play.
Almost without exception, each and every new technology comes with a price. In the case of wireless 4G services, there are a couple prices that consumers are going to have to pay in order to utilize the features that 4G boasts. For starters, unless you recently purchased one of the top-tier smartphones or other wireless devices, you’re going to have to upgrade in order to use the 4G network. For some, this is not a big deal. For those of us who do not have a 4G-capable device, especially those of us who do not have any wireless data service, prepare to pay up.
Irony number two is one that keeps me shaking my head. If you are a Verizon Wireless customer and currently do not have a data plan, the bells and whistles of 4G just may not be as attractive as they may seem on the surface. Here is how it is going to work. When you get your new 4G-capable device and service with Verizon, you are also going to receive a two gigabyte per month data cap. In the simplest of terms, all this means is that you can download and stream and whatever else you choose to do on the 4G network, but once you have downloaded two gigabytes worth of data, you will be charged additional fees. Think of it as a ‘use it as you please but don’t abuse it’ policy. Verizon Wireless claims that 95% of their customers do not download over two gigabytes of data per month. That’s all great and wonderful, but just how are their customers’ downloading habits going to change once they’re introduced to a ten-times faster connection? I think you and I both know the answer to that, as I’m sure Verizon Wireless does as well.