Google Translate

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Comparing Apple/AT&T iPhone plans to Singapore's plans

Apple iPhone
Apple and AT&T announced three mobile plans for the iPhone today. These range from US$59.99 to US$99.99. At first glance, I thought, "Wow! That's outrageous!" I was sure that comparable plans in Singapore would be much cheaper.

Alas, how wrong I was.

Here's a table comparing the plans.
CarrierIncl. SMS300 mins400 mins450 mins680 mins700 mins900 mins1,350 mins1,500 mins2,000 mins
AT&T (US$/S$)200

59.99
(92.26)


79.99
(123.02)
99.99
(153.78)


SingTel360*



105.79

221.81
500**99.75


162.75



M1300*
42.00





105.00
50047.25


81.38



StarHub300


92.40




50047.25


81.38



90050.40







2,000







197.40
All of the local telcos offer free incoming talk time until the end of 2008 at the earliest.
* Based on non-promotional usual price
** Based on first year's subscription rate


At first glance, it seems like there are some local plans that look more affordable than AT&T's. Of course, I'm not comparing apples with apples (pardon the pun), because of variable charges like extra minute charges, registration, etc.

But wait, there's more! AT&T offers unlimited data usage. In contrast, the local telcos offer add-on data plans:
  • M1 - $313.95 maximum (for two of its data plans)
  • StarHub - $105 unlimited
M1's maximum data charges alone far exceed any of AT&T's combined talk and data plans. Meanwhile, StarHub's cheapest mobile plan doesn't look so cheap once you add the extra hundred dollars. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find any prices for SingTel's maximum data charges or unlimited plans, if any.)

So it would seem that the iPhone plans are actually cheaper than what you can get in Singapore! And here, I always thought that mobile plans in the U.S. were a rip-off.

--

9 comments:

lancerlord said...

Prices of handphones and plans have dropped over the years. At least we are not the most expensive in the world. :)

Gerald said...

That data plans in Singapore are expensive doesn't surprise me that much. I was surprised to find out a while back that my parents in Singapore didn't even have a home broadband data plan - until I found out how much they paid.

In contrast, the unlimited cable modem I pay for (I think 5-7 Mbs peak download) is US$30/mth (before taxes), and my monthly 3G HSDPA card (form my laptop) is US$60 a month.

I have no idea if this is just because Singapore is a smaller market, or whether carriers account for the cost of data to/from Europe/US in those monthly charges. I mean, let's face it, a larger proportion of content people in Singapore access is probably outside the country, compared to a larger country like the US.

Yuhui said...

Lancerlord: Yeah, that's true, thanks to competition. But it looks like prices could come down further.

Gerald: The story we've been told is that more data flows out of Singapore than in, and it's more costly to send data out, thus the higher broadband prices.

Anonymous said...

Your minutes comparison does not include the extra night and weekend minutes nor the mobile-to-mobile minutes.

The AT&T plans have either 5000 minutes ($US 59.95 plan only) or unlimited night & weekend talk time (8 pm to 6 am).

They also have unlimited minutes for calls between AT&T mobile phones. Since AT&T has a 27% market share, and possibly more in certain cities, it's actually a fair bet that the mobile phone no. one is calling will be a "free call". This really helps for "family plans" where one family is all AT&T, or "company plans" where the whole company is on the same carrier.

Finally the unused "standard, prime time, non-AT&T" minutes from each month do rollover to the next month. There isn't the "free incoming talk time" like Singapore telcos though, nor are there "free calls to US" (though long-distance, calls to any of the roughly 200 million phone lines in the US, are 'free').

Thus the $59.95 plan is sufficiently close to "unlimited talk time" given those extra minutes, but 200 included SMS is definitely on the low side.

More SMSes can be added, either $US 20/month for unlimited SMS (to any US or international carrier) or $US 5/month for unlimited SMS (but only within AT&T customers).

Sending and receiving SMSes without a plan is outrageously expensive, at $US 0.15/SMS per SMS sent/received (same cost whether within US or international). There are many stories of parents who get phones for their kids and didn't get the SMS plan, then find a giant phone bill because the kids sent several hundred or even thousand SMS in the first month.

So SMS is not so popular here since it does not come included with almost all plans (except the iPhone plane), is very expensive if used without a plan, but most people don't pay extra for it, because it is far cheaper to talk (it's free) than to SMS.

The US carriers are really big on the "network-to-network" thing, i.e. marketing a plan that provides unlimited calls or SMS within their own network.

I think the base costs for getting a mobile phone in Singapore are low (if one only wants a basic phone service, with SMS), as it is
very hard to find a phone service plan in the US that is less than $US 35 a month.

But buying unlimited service in the US is relatively cheap compared to Singapore. Maybe it's the way marketing works; they want to entice customers to go for "unlimited" so they make it priced such that people who want to rid themselves of watching costs can go for it instead of in Singapore where "unlimited" is either not available or so expensive only those who actually exceed the highest "metered" plan will go for it.

The 3G plans are rather interesting - at US$40-$60 a month, for unlimited, some people are cancelling DSL or Cable and only using 3G as their only broadband option. This is especially useful for those who travel a lot and aren't at home all the time. Although 3G is not available in all parts of the US, there are parts which get 3G but don't have DSL or Cable modem available so for some it is their best broadband option. I don't think such plans are popular in Singapore yet.

Yuhui said...

I admittedly did not dive down so deep into the details, which would have uncovered all of the little devils, as you've pointed out. But hopefully my little table is sufficient to get phone users and telcos re-thinking their price plans.

Anonymous said...

I CAN TELL YOU 1 THING.
ALL PHONE COS IN SING ARE MADE TO RIP CUSTOMER'S ASS AND WALET

ESP THEIR FAKE ADVERTS ABOUT PLANS AND SERVICE.

THE WORST CASE SCENARIO OF BROAD BAND INTERNET IS HERE .
M1 BROADBAND , WHICH CAN WIN THE PLATINUM MEDAL FOR BEING THE SLOWEST AND MOST TROUBLESOME INTERNET CONNECTION IN THE ENTIRE GALAXY.

BUT YOU GO OUT AND SEE WHAT THEY CLAIM

TAKE YOUR BROADBAND WITH YOU , YES YOU MORON .
COS WHEN I LOAD PAGE IN MY HOME , I MUST CARRY MY LAPTOP WITH ME SO THAT BY THE TIME I REACH MY OFFICE IT MIGHT LOAD IT .

BUT NO PROBLEM , THERE IS NO LAW OR REGULATION WHEICH CAN STOP THESE FLEECERS TO CHEAT CLIENTS HERE.

Yuhui said...

Yeah, well, the argument could be given that we have a small market, so things won't be as good as we'd like...

Anonymous said...

On the topic of the plans telcos have, consider, that the free calls and text messaging between users in the same carrier (i.e. AT&T to AT&T calls are free, but not AT&T to Sprint calls) has caused an interesting phenomena in the US.

People decide which cellphone carrier (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile) they want to be on, based on their friends. Friends in the same carrier network tend to be communicated to more frequently, more casually (short and silly SMSes like, "heh, I'm having lunch"), in effect, they keep in touch with those friends more. Friends not on the same network can still be talked to, but perhaps only at nights or weekends, and a lot more sparingly in the day and possibly not with SMS (which is expensive).

So in effect, one might grow further away from friends who are relatively more "expensive" to communicate to.

Of course this effect is more seen on young people who tend to use mobile phones more often, and for many purposes, like sending quick, messages, than with older people. It usually is seen on young adults who pay their own bills, but aren't very wealthy, instead on those where the parents pay their bill.

Perhaps telcos should consider if their plans are causing people to break up ... imagine telling your gf that if she doesn't shift her carrier to yours, you might break up.

Yuhui said...

Hmm, interesting point. There are similar SMS plans here, but I haven't noticed any such polarising effect.

Post a Comment