October 15, 2012
Besides a larger screen, the iPhone 5 is also recognized as the first Apple phone that supports LTE speeds. Unfortunately, for Americans anyway, this service is expensive, according to The New York Times. According to a recent survey conducted by the research arm of London-based GSM Association, LTE service is available to 27 million subscribers around the world. Of those, half are located in the U.S. Verizon Wireless, which implemented LTE in 2010, charges $7.50 for each gigabyte of data downloaded over their LTE network. By contrast, Europeans are paying $2.50 for the same service. In Sweden, a gigabyte costs as little as $0.63. This study, while newly released, does include some outdated information. For one, the study only looked at LTE usage through June, which was before the iPhone 5 went live. Second, for whatever reason, it doesn’t include information about AT&T. According to Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney, the survey also cherry-picked information by including rates for “unlimited voice minutes, unlimited text, picture and video messages shared among 10 different data-capable devices and a mobile hotspot on the smartphone.” She claims that Verizon's cost to consumers drops to $5.50 per gigabyte when looking at data only. Still, there is no denying that whatever the difference, Americans still pay a lot more. The survey says that Americans pay more than others mainly because companies like Verizon and AT&T like to offer bundled packages that include voice, data, and messaging. By contrast, Europeans can buy standalone packages. Perhaps the biggest reason for the higher costs, however, has to do with competition. In Europe, 38 of 88 carriers are already offering LTE. In the U.S., LTE service is largely limited to Verizon and AT&T. Personally, I find this news annoying, but certainly not a surprise. I'm often told by European readers that mobile prices in the U.S. are very high. Still, given the size of the U.S., I don't see how things will change anytime soon, since switching to an LTE network here is extremely expensive for carriers. My advice: Watch your data speeds and be sure to use Wi-Fi where possible. Either that, or move to Europe!