Survey suggests the end of flat-rate fees for telecom services, but bias is in the air

The Globe and Mail published an article on Monday, revealing the results of a recent survey. The survey polled nearly 400 international mobile executives and—wait, what’s that? Yes, I said executives. Oh, you mean they’re going to be biased to whatever shift is in favour of investors and shareholders? Hmm… so that would make the survey moot. Quote The Globe:

The poll of 391 international mobile executives found that 55 per cent agreed tiered pricing was the way forward in mature markets, with 47 per cent saying that “all-you-can-eat” data plans were damaging their ability to increase revenue.

Almost half – 48 per cent – predicted mobile operators would focus on developing new pricing models over the next three years, in the survey carried out by international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

New pricing models to expand revenue. That’s what it’s about. It doesn’t analyze consumer wants, consumer needs, or weigh in on the future of the mobile market, where data streams will continually widen until we’re swimming in an ocean of it. So how do tiered, usage-based price models make sense?

“Usage-based pricing is a logical solution,” Natasha Good, co-head of the law firm’s mobile group, said in the report. “It will ease current capacity issues by capping demand, contain capital expenditure requirements and potentially increase revenue.”

Pray tell, Natasha: which consumer will be happy about their demand being capped? And why would they care about “potential” revenue increases for already-giant telecos that are notorious for neglecting their customers?

If Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer tries a poll surveying 400 typical Canadian telecom consumers, it’s difficult to argue that the results would be different. Consumers want unlimited plans to reduce the stress of daily voice, text, and data usage, and they want it for the rates they know that Canadian telecos can offer.

Unless all of them—Rogers, Bell, Telus, as well as all their subsidiaries, plus the newcomers like Wind and Public Mobile—decide to shift to usage-based pricing models simultaneously, it won’t work. Because if only one or two of them dive in, they’re going to find no fish in the sea, because consumers will, of course, stick with companies who offer the consumer-oritented flat-fee options.