I Am One With the Poor

Well, not usually, obviously, but in this case, yes.

Malkia Cyril thinks (to use a generous verb) that poor people are being screwed over by telecom companies who are “offering a cell phone package to poor people that is only affordable because it contains significant roadblocks to full Internet access.”

Metro PCS has seized upon recent rules passed by the FCC which fail to protect wireless users as an opportunity to tier the cell phone data packages it offers, and make a killing on the backs of its poorest customers. Lowering the price for partial Internet service while calling it “unlimited access” is a fraudulent gimmick that Metro PCS hopes will confuse low-income consumers into buying its phones…The FCC’s rules paved the way for Metro PCS to give its poorest consumers access to only a few websites, sell that substandard service at a discounted price, and call it “affordable Internet service”.

You read that right–selling for lower quality at lower prices is somehow an evil plot to make a killing off poor people. Yes, lowering the price you charge poor people is screwing them over.

David Honig describes the plans as follows:

One of the wireless carriers is offering three packages, all of VOIP-enabled (so they can get services like Skype) with free access to any lawful website, and all of them clearly labeled:

• Plan A: $40, with no multimedia streaming (that is, no movie downloads such as Netflix, porn, etc.)

• Plan B: $50, with metered multimedia streaming.

• Plan C: $60, with unlimited multimedia streaming.

Could you decide which of these three packages meets your needs?

Or is all this just too confusing? Cyril thinks so.

So poor people would have the option to pay more and get better internet access on their phone, but apparently they’d rather put that extra money to some other use. Cyril thinks giving them that choice is harmful to them.

I’m with the poor folk on this one. I don’t have internet access on my phone, and despite occasional moments of temptation when I see friends surfing the net on their ubercool smartphones, I have no interest in paying for that service. Cyril, it seems, wants to make sure I do pay, whether I want to or not.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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8 Responses to I Am One With the Poor

  1. Scott Hanley says:

    It’s great if competition can explore the underside of the consumer base; i.e, instead of just offering more for the same money, also see how far you can cut both services and prices and still provide something that people want. My big complaint with cable tv — and why I’m almost ready to get rid of it — is that their smallest package is so big and expensive. I’ve never watched at least 75% of the channels that I get and would gladly trade that 75%l away for a mere 15% price cut.

  2. Matty says:

    Good grief, she and her commenters actually seems to be arguing that full internet access on your phone is a basic need and not providing it is equivalent to denying someone medicine or drinking water.

    I don’t usually read HuffPo, is it all this bad?

  3. James Hanley says:

    Of course we still don’t have actual competition in cable television–and that lack is probably the reason for the lousy packages we’re offered. Heck, I’d pay more for fewer channels, just so I didn’t have to flip through so much junk to find what I want.

  4. AMW says:

    My wife and I tossed our cable subscription 5 or 6 months ago. We can find a sufficiently wide variety of live-streaming entertainment from netflix for 11 bucks a month. Of course, if we wanted to watch sports at all that would be hard to replace.

  5. DensityDuck says:

    AMW: Of course, AT&T and Comcast have figured that out; that’s why they’re rolling out bandwidth caps that’ll quickly kill off Netflix and Hulu.

    As for the OP: Well, there it is; to the kind of people who spend all day farting around on the Internet, having full Internet access on your phone *is* a basic need.

  6. James Hanley says:


    Is there something on tv to watch besides sports?

  7. ppnl says:

    Yes but they do raise an interesting question. Is it really the internet if it is without porn?

    I always wondered how a cable company would do if it depackaged all of its channels forcing you to buy them individually by the month.

  8. Michael Heath says:

    From my perspective CATV providers have settled on certain revenue points per customer type (where they categorize customers). Cost of what they offer seems irrelevant and I find distinguishes them somewhat from the stereotypical business. Their ignoring cost to focus on maintaining a certain revenue level is why they don’t bite and offer fewer channels at a much higher per channel rate which is consistent with what I want as well.

    I think this model isn’t sustainable since its building animosity across its customer base for not offering fewer channels at a lower monthly rate (though higher per channel rate). Perhaps when choices on the Internet become viable enough to convince John Doe to do away with CATV altogether they’ll respond with more choices, but I think the resentment they’re creating now does not bode well when they lose their monopoly (which Charter Communications has in our area for those needing fast Internet at home and to the curmudgeons, landline phone service).

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