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Thought: 100 KB blocks for GPRS billing - that's not fair at all!
Posted by PPCW.Net Editori - on Monday, 08.03.04 - 18:10:59 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 7377x
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Contributed by Dr. Wolfgang Irber, PPCW.Net Reader and Business Professional

I'm starting to get very annoyed by this. At home, I'm getting a GPRS bill based on 10 KB blocks, but while traveling, many roaming operators write the bill based on 100 KB blocks. According to my experience, that's a very smart way to use GPRS as an efficient cash cow.

While on the go, I need to stay connected to my E-Mails, so using GPRS is simply a must for me. And GPRS is great; I love it. I'm so glad it is available since it made life so much easier for me. But when on GPRS roaming, I noticed that more and more operators are switching to 100 KB blocks for billing.

Well, you may think, why does it matter, the overall prize is still the same? But the 10 KB or 100 KB billing matters a lot!

100 KB is about my daily amount I'm sending or receiving abroad, of course distributed throughout the day. 100 KB means quite a few E-Mails, about ten in my case. For instance, a quick E-Mail check is about 3-5 KB, sending or receiving a few short mails may be around 20-30 KB.

But then, the GPRS session is still active, a phone call comes in and my GPRS session drops. For a next E-Mail check, another 100 KB block is opened, but then the GPRS session may drop again: because I'm moving, because of poor coverage or whatever reason. There are lots! Dropping GPRS sessions is not a rare thing. In summary, I never make it in using the 100 KB I get the bill for.

Final Conclusion

From an operator's point of view this makes perfect sense. They get money for nothing. Being abroad in 100 KB billing networks, I'm usually paying three to four times the amount I would pay with 10 KB blocks. I'm actually waiting for day when they are going to bill 1MB blocks. What a great revenue option they currently miss!

Do you understand why I have the impression that GPRS billing based on 100 KB blocks is not really customer friendly? Slowly I feel tempted to enter an Internet cafe again. It's just not fair! Why is the customer constantly punished for using GPRS? Is it not meant to be used? Almost all of my friends already got burned by a heavy GPRS bill for very little use and promised never ever to use GPRS again.

Maybe, I simply don't understand the underlying strategy. Please, can somebody explain it to me?

Cheers ~ Wolfgang


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Posted by DubWireless on 08.03.04 - 21:13:27

Last week I asked one of the Operator's I use here (in Ireland) the GPRS roaming charges for Germany as I'll be heading there soon. They attached back a spreadsheet listing all the roaming agreements and billing blocks/prices.

It was interesting reading, Germany and Austria both use the 100KB blocks, although surprisingly places like the USA and Singapore currently bill only 1KB blocks! Roaming GPRS is expensive enough so I agree 100% with you Wolfgang - this minimum 100 KB block is a rip-off - I know I'll be keeping a close eye on the GPRS data counter smile

Although, I've yet to be billed for any GPRS Roaming with this operator, and I've roamed using GPRS in the UK, Netherlands, Germany and the US (albeit very light use). I suppose their billing system had not caught up with the service offering, although I suppose on my next trip it will!


Posted by APA on 09.03.04 - 10:42:15

RIP OFF , it is so easy to summarize their strategy. Since you are a roaming user they don't care if you are unhappy or not, you likely use their service once a year. So they grab you with two hands, shake you as much as they can and then let you go again smile

As mentioned before, my GPRS is disabled permanently. I'm not willing to waste my money, after a while you easily can live without up to the minute emails again smile

We always feel we can't without, but sure we can easily. If your emails generate you more money than you have to spend on GPRS, then turn it on, if not turn it OFF smile

Posted by Wiz on 09.03.04 - 19:24:36

Thank god for my AT&T Global Network dialer for PocketPC. It works flawlessly on my XDA II, and enables me to dial 0800 tool-free numbers when I'm abroad ..... yes, perhaps only 9600Bps, but hey ... anything to prevent being rippecd-off right?

Posted by Wolfgang Irber on 09.03.04 - 19:50:25


Well, I already know that your are not a "believer" when it comes to GPRS:) but when you are away from home for weeks and you do not have any easy access to the Internet at all, it is not the up to minute email that is required but the email at all. In today's business email is used for tracking task and simply replaced all paper-related documentation.

I well remember the time when I was on the road without XDA and GPRS: something I don't want to experience at any time again.

But more and more, I get the impression that I am paying as well for the little use the operators are experiencing on their GPRS networks and they now want to increase their return of investment on expense of customers that do not have a real choice: travelers.

To generally switch off GPRS, I don't regard it as a feasible option, maybe occasionally, but it's certainly all about the prizing. In Germany with my current operator, I have no problem at all, I personally think the relation between KB and prize is kind of fair in the current stage even though I wouldn't mind it to become it cheaper. It is just the roaming that makes me more than wonder and angry.

Let's watch how the prize is going to develop with UMTS. If the operators ever want to target the mass market, the prizes have to come down or the new networks are going to be a very expensive toy... for an exclusive group of business users.

Cheers ~ W

Posted by Thomas Scheen on 10.03.04 - 11:38:57


I can confirm your anger here in Belgium. Proximus charges a whopping 0,50 € per block of 100 kb although one only needs 10 kb for a mail-check or a WAP-News-check. If providers are so kean to promote GPRS as the step before UMTS, they should really rethink their pricing policy.

Example: To resync my Avantgo-channels, I need +-962 kb. That's 5 € !!!!

5 min. TV-straming on n-tv (with poor picture quality) costs 6 € !!!!!!

An unlimited amount of MB for a flat rate of 10 € would be OK.

Thomas Scheen

Posted by darkcell on 23.04.04 - 05:42:35

I've got to pay USD 3/month for flat rate gprs provided by satelindo...

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