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Does 4G = Bill Shock?

By Oonagh Reidy | Sunday | 22/09/2013

Its tipped as the be-all and end-all of mobile networks - but is really worth it?

The rapid takeup of 4G may give rise to 'bill shock', warns telco No. 2 Optus. 

There has "rapid takeup of 4G," Clare Gill, Optus Head of Government and Corporate Affairs told Smarthouse.  

"Consumers are proactively upgrading to a high speed network."  

But when subscribers move up from 3G to 4G, users often double their data usage, says Gill. 

There's no buffering on 4G mobile services, greater speed and capacity, downloads are faster and apps work far quicker. 

Fast as lightening, 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, thatTelstra, Vodafone, Optus all now operate, give a" better experience ..so consumers use more data," says Gill.   

On average, when people move from 3G to 4G they go through an extra 300Mb per month, she says. 

This means far higher bill, and thus 'bill shock', where subscribers receive far higher bills than anticipated is a likely outcome. 

"Bill shock is a real thing... users need to be able to use their smartphone data without fear," something Optus hopes to eradicate with My Plan billing system.  

 New research from Optus suggests one in three Aussie parents have been hit with massive mobile bills from their kids. 

A shocking one in three received a whopper bill of $300 or more, according to the survey. Take note, the 'kids' were aged between 10, and as old as 21. 

There has been other reports of shocker mobile bills going "into the thousands". 

Optus new My Plan billing system offers "transparency" so consumers "won't get stung" with shockingly high bills, says Gill.  

Australia's telco No. 2 are hoping the "revolutionary" Myplans will encourage other telcos to follow suit. 

Myplan automatically bumps users up to the next level - so say if data allowance is exceeded, users are charged $10 for an additional 1GB, as opposed to $250 under the previous regime. 

And ditto if customers go over their monthly call allowance. 

The mobile plans start at $35 a month to $100. However, the $35 and $50 plans both have frugal Internet data allowances, so it appears very likely mobile users will have to bump up to next level, anyway.  

"We hope it changes the way the industry charges" for data , says Gill. 

Existing Optus consumers can proactively move on to it for free, even mid contract. 

However, the biggest shock about the Optus survey, announced last week, was most parents (76%) don't place limits on the bills they're paying for their kids, aged up to 21. 

But no one in the telco industry disputes the fact, data prices are going up. One senior exec from a  major Aussie telco told Smarthouse the cost of data costs will inevitably rise, as telcos invest billions in upgrading networks to 4G. 

"Customers need to realise they have to pay more for data," the exec said.  

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