Mobile Broadband Is a Luxury Keeping the Cloud Out of Reach

[qi:107] Almost half of those currently subscribing to a mobile broadband plan are willing to cut such plans in order to make ends meet, according to research from Strategy Analytics (profiled at eMarketer). Two-thirds would keep their in-home broadband, while 48 percent would dump mobile data plans. Of course they would. Any thinking person who looks at the costs per megabyte realizes that like buying diapers in airports, you’re paying a premium for convenience. So it’s not as difficult to give these plans up when times are tough.

But those stats also make clear that the promise of ubiquitous mobile computing hasn’t become as important to the average consumer as it may be to us here at GigaOM. Simply put, plenty of people can live without constant access to the cloud. As much as we love our smartphones, mobile broadband access over a 3G network is still a luxury for most.

Indeed, paying up to $60 a month for 5 GB or $40 for around 250 MB isn’t for the faint of heart, or the thin of wallet. We’ve worried how the recession would affect mobile data plans, especially as employers stopped subsidizing them. However there are signs that wireless data may become less expensive. MetroPCS and Leap Wireless both offer cheaper mobile data plans, while Verizon recently introduced its MiFi device, which uses the 3G network to deliverĀ a Wi-Fi signal.

Since it requires no software, multiple people could share the MiFi. My husband and I each have a data connection and are thinking it might make sense to consolidate down to one. As wireless broadband speeds get faster through HSPA or LTE network upgrades in coming years, more consumers may join the few folks out there who already use their wireless data plans as their primary web connection — eliminating a home broadband bill entirely. I don’t recommend that step for multi-user homes or for heavy video streamers, however.

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