Just As I Thought

Pay Per Plug

Yet another rant about telecoms. Beating a dead horse?

Yet another rant about telecoms. Beating a dead horse?

Cable Television

There’s a single cable coming to your house. It is broadcasting programming data 24/7 down that cable, and the cable company is not incurring extra costs depending on how many people watch that broadcast video.

When cable television started, it was simply an amplified television signal. You could split it off and watch it on any TV.

Then, the companies got wise: scramble the signal or put it onto frequencies that a television set couldn’t receive, and then charge subscribers for use of a decoder box.

That worked for a while, until television manufacturers created the cable-ready TV set. Once again, we didn’t have to pay for each outlet.

Then came digital cable. More boxes, and a charge for each outlet in the house. Digital television sets came along with the ability to decode the “clear” cable channels, and consumers were unshackled from the clutches of the cable company box again.

But the cycle continues: today, cable companies are removing the clear QAM channels and once again forcing customers to rent a decoder box for every television in the house, charging them several times for the same service.

Wireless Phones

Perhaps the most egregious example of ridiculous pricing practices: the mobile phone industry. Case in point, AT&T.

3G telephones deal in data. Everything is digital data, whether it’s voice or email or web. And yet, the phone company charges a fee for “voice minutes”, an anachronism; and another fee on top of that for “data.”

If you have, for example, a plan that allows 2gb of data per month, you are allowed to pay another fee to enable tethering of a device to your phone to share the data connection. However, this fee doesn’t include any extra data at all — it’s simply charging you twice for the same data.

To make matters worse, it has been revealed that users with an iPhone cannot use their SIM card in an iPad. The data you’re paying for is only allowed to be used on that one device. They are determining where you may use that data, and if you want to use another device you must pay again… even if you are not using both at the same time.


Imagine if the power company had the same pricing structure as telecoms. We’d be paying a fee for every outlet in the house, and if we used an extension cord or power strip there would be an extra monthly charge on top of the usage fee.

When I buy gas, I wouldn’t be allowed to use it in any other car, and would pay a special fee if I used my car to tow another vehicle.

Imagine you go to McDonald’s, and you are not allowed to share a french fry with anyone else. And you are charged a Drive Thru fee.

Other utilities pipe something into the house and charge me according to the quantity I use — not how or where I use it. Why, oh why, do we put up with this gouging from telecom companies? As I’ve said before, they have carefully trained us over the years to believe that the service they provide is mysteriously complex and expensive. We need to wake up.

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