(Illustration/Tribune News Service)
(Illustration/Tribune News Service)

Think of your typical day of cell phone use. Do you check Facebook? Send Snapchats? Play Candy Crush? If you answered yes to any of the above, then you’re probably paying for data in your cell phone plan.

So this means data plans have become the norm for cell phone users. We would all like to live in a world where they don’t exist, but the truth of the matter is that they are necessary. We need them to power the advanced features on all of our cell phones and tablets.

The fact that we have to pay for these plans is not a mystery. The mystery here is why we are forced to work inside a box of limited data.

Data isn’t the first thing to be limited by cell phone companies. In the beginning, text messaging had a similar problem. Everyone had to pay ten cents or more for each text message they sent and received. Unlimited texting plans were not the norm.

Now, unlimited texting usually goes without saying when buying a plan. Few people can remember a time when we weren’t able to send 50 emoticons without worrying about going over our limit.

Aside from the data limits themselves, the things that use data are also ambiguous. Anytime certain applications are activated on a person’s phone, a little bit of their data is taken away. Before long, these seemingly minuscule subtractions add up, and we’re left wondering why the internet on our chosen device has become so slow. This whole exercise ends up becoming not worth the money after a few months.

Cell phone companies have painted their customers into a corner with this one. They choose to stock exclusively smart phones, making it impossible for people to get around buying a data plan. The rules associated with their plans change with each passing month. It seems that they want to go out of their way to create their own definition for the word “unlimited.”

Something needs to happen. No longer should customers have to pay for a product they know will never give them their money’s worth. They need to reach out to their cell phone companies in massive numbers and send a message that they don’t want to put up with it anymore. If enough people ask for an alternative, perhaps one will rise to the surface.

The way that cell phone companies price their data plans is mind boggling. Their data infrastructure is already in place, and its maintenance costs are never clearly stated. They would make it a point to say that every dollar they receive from their data plans goes towards making the system as a whole better. Such a stance would send a powerful message to the public. No worthwhile corporation has ever willfully surrendered a public relations bonanza like this one.

Customers need to know what they’re paying for from the moment they agree to the terms of their data plan. The idea of throwing money at data is ridiculous. Data is not something that can be contained within a particular definition. It’s an asset that’s never ending and unclear in terms of what form it’s going to take next. Customers aren’t paying for data—they’re paying for something much more sinister.

In the corporate world, there’s nothing better than finding a marketable resource. Businesses work as hard as they can to come up with an idea that they can market to the masses. What’s better than a new plan that gives people the opportunity to use the devices everyone tells them they should have?

We want to be able to use the devices we have spent so much time and money purchasing. We were willing to spend considerable amounts of money to get our devices in the first place. Why wouldn’t we add more money onto the pile to get those devices up and running? The advertised price of our devices is much different than what we actually end up paying.

We should be able to pay one price for our device and not have to pay for anything else after we have brought it home.

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