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Putting the “mobile” in mobile hotspot

Last updated on March 31, 2013

T-Mobile made much ado about the value of its new plans’ simplicity at its Uncarrier event last week. It’s a topic I’ll be writing more on soon but the bottom line is that, despite progress, there’s still room for improvement in that story. One of the complications of the plan come with the usage of mobile hotspot regardless of whether it is created via a separate product or with a smartphone. Consumers must pay an extra $20 for 500 MB worth of hotspot data and can then add 2 GB increments for $10.

When asked about why mobile hotspot is treated as such a black sheep in the flock of simplicity, T-Mobile represnetatives noted that it came down to usage and drew comparisons to caps that are imposed by cable companies that are in the hundreds of gigabytes per month that would put too much strain on the network. But that is not how most people use mobile hotspots. Indeed, they are most inclined to use them when they are outside the home, not as a home broadband substitute.

The solution to this seems pretty simple. There are a host of ways to figure out where a phone or mobile hotspot is being used (GPS, cell tower triangulation, Skyhook-like Wi-Fi hotspot detection). Why not just build the data hit into the plan as long as data usage happens outside the home or some other central locaiton. This could all be done automatically and would not only help T-Mobile improve its plan’s simplicity but make it a smarter user of technology that would further differentiate it from competitors it is trying to portray as behind the times.