Wednesday 3 September 2008


Your mobile phone is a decent way of accessing the Internet just about anywhere.  Not brilliant, maybe, but good enough for all sorts of stuff.  Email, facebook, simple web searches, news and so on.

Traditionally, mobile operators have caned their customers for the privilege of viewing a tiny page slowly (and especially for those occasions when your browser can't support the massive graphics-rich page coming down the line). Why? The myth (OK, ancient truth) that mobile browsing is a premium service.


But like it or not, this has been the approach and still generally is.

At last, Asda (which uses the Vodafone network) has changed the rules. Look:

Pay-as-you-go Internet Pricing

Price per MB
500p Virgin
400p Tesco
300p O2
    20p Asda
Obscure Orange, 3, T-Mobile, Vodafone
Checked today, but I make no representation about the accuracy or comprehensiveness of this information

'Obscure' means that the website doesn't want to give you the detail - assume the worst!

By the way, most of the operators offer either some kind of daily maximum  or/and daily, weekly or monthly bundles.  But for the most part, these position Internet at £1-2 a day. Much more than you are paying for high speed home broadband.

What can you get for £1?  Not much, perhaps, but too much, and in particular it's lousy knowing that each time you check and update facebook it will be costing you 30p or so.

So three cheers for Asda, assuming I'm reading their policy correctly.  If I make the occasional, casual email check etc, I'll spend pennies a day.  Well, I'm happy to do that any day, so suddenly it makes sense to make my mobile the default Internet access for all sorts of things.  Even a photo upload will be around the cost of a call (8p per minute, three cheers for that too). Almost all the mobiles in the house can download and run Opera Mini, which acts as a kind of middleman to the web, limiting the amount of data going back and forth and making most sites designed for PCs easy enough to use on phones, so suddenly it all makes sense.

Funnily enough, I'm pretty confident that if the others follow suit, their revenues will grow significantly (or to be techy, they will increase ARPU).  Because most people never use their phone for browsing. Bad technical experiences and fear of uncertain costs have ensured that.

Come on, guys.  Or am I going to have to trade up to Asda?