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Why is Data So Much Cheaper in Europe?

Authored by: Steven Blum — Aug 18, 2011

 
(Merkel's Germany is much friendlier to data hogs).

With users downloading tons of movies off Netflix, gabbing with their friends for hours over Skype and streaming Justin Bieber over YouTube, you'd think carriers would be bending over backwards to try to snatch up customers using a fancy unlimited data plan carrot. Hahaha, no way jose! As data-swallowing apps become more and more popular, carriers have actually gone a step in the opposite direction, offering "tiered" data plans that stand to make them a lot more while giving customers less.

Unfair, right? Totally! But this seems to be the case. Verizon has axed their unlimited plan but charges the same amount for their new "unlimited" plan, which now only offers 2GB. Verizon claims that "only the heaviest users" will be affected by this change, but we know that's not the case. In fact, as the New York Times writes, 2GB is enough to watch about 5 films on Netflix. And then that's it. For the whole freaking month.

But it doesn't have to be this way. In Europe, data is plentiful and cheap. German carriers ePlus and Blau, for example, offer customers 5GB for 20 euros. 20 euros! That's right...for less than the price of 2G in the states, you get more than double the amount of data!

Now of course, plans in other countries are as steep, if not more, than American plans. France's unlimited plans will set you back more than 100 euros, for example. But the fact that some plans in Germany are so much cheaper than their American counterparts makes me wonder if American carriers are telling the whole truth about their expenditures.

Carriers can blame increased network costs, but we all know they've only raised prices because they stand to make a killing on data plans. The only American exception is Sprint. The Now Network offers the nation's only truly unlimited plan. But there's a catch- it's gonna cost you $99. Till American carriers lower their rates, I suppose we can all move to Germany.

Source: New York Times

Steven Blum has written more than 2,000 blog posts as a founding member of AndroidPIT's English editorial team. A graduate of the University of Washington, Steven Blum also studied Journalism at George Washington University in Washington D.C. for two years. Since then, his writing has appeared in The Stranger, The Seattle P-I, Blackbook Magazine and Venture Villlage. He loves the HTC One and hopes the company behind it still exists in a few years.

12 comments

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  • Keefers Aug 19, 2011 Link to comment

    it's all about corporate profit.

  • Fulvio Minichini Aug 19, 2011 Link to comment

    And we don't even have Netflix :-)

  • Irinei Kalachov Aug 19, 2011 Link to comment

    In Estonia (it's in the EU btw) you can go fully unlimited with Elisa's "Mint" tariff for just 10 euros and with 3.5Mbit speed. That's a steal for you American folks I guess:)

  • Freddy Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    There is an important point missing. I am from Germany and had a data plan from an eplus subcontractor and I can tell you, that you will never be able to use 5GB or even 1GB, because their network is so damn slow even in bigger cities. If I was lucky, I got 30-50kbyte/s and the rate was never consistent. I changed the provider and now I have 500mb for 10€ which is the cheapest 500mb plan, which provides good speed. So if you want a fair comparison leave out eplus, because you cant actually use their mobile internet.
    I think another reason why it is cheaper here, is because the USA are much bigger, so you really have higher network costs. Countries like Austria I think have even cheaper data plany than Germany.

  • Peter Long Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    and it's important to mention that the EU has sanctioned European providers to limit roaming costs. That's a great victory for consumers. Something like this would be totally unimaginable in the United States because god forbid the government do ANYTHING to limit corporate America in any way. Makes me sick!

  • Zhu Lee Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    China has the cheapest plans based on what I know.

  • Miranda Endhoven Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    You guys should write a story about the cheapest data plans in the world. South Korea, perhaps? Japan? I'm sure those countries' plans blow anything in Europe or America out of the water.

  • Lolita Pluma Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    What about Spain???

  • DroidLover Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    Europe contains both good and bad deals, but it's true that you can find rates that American carriers can't touch. Still, T-Mobile Germany is very expensive, charging 40 euros for 5GB, which is a bit nuts.

  • Bob Hart Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    @Marvin....Verizon charges $50 for 5GB. ePlus charges the equivalent of $30. That's a big difference.

  • Marvin Cleaver Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    This is BS, I think. When I was in Britain, the data plans were exorbitant.

  • Sam Buchbinder Aug 18, 2011 Link to comment

    This'll be the new frontier in legislation. I really do think the government will eventually (hopefully) step in and enforce a lower data plan rate in America. Lucky Europeans.