For the past 5 days I have been actively testing Smart’s new Always On plans that offer bucket-pricing which charges by the volume of bandwidth consumed. Here’s my personal observation of that test.
For this experiment, I limited my mobile internet usage to the basic apps I normally use:
(Note: I’m not really a huge FaceBook user except when maintaining the blog’s fan page so I don’t access it from the phone a lot. Of course, I still get FB email notifications thru GMail.) These apps are my most frequently used apps so the results will be heavily dependent on my lifestyle.
My data usage is as follows:
Note as well that data usage for uploads are logged and included in your Always On allocation. My testing and observations can be summarized with this simple FAQ:
How did you measure your usage?
I downloaded and installed 3G Watchdog on my Android phone. I would also request for SMS updates on how much bandwidth the system has logged against my allocation.
How long are you on 3G?
I used a dedicated Android device to run Twitter, FourSquare, GMail and Google+ during the entire testing period. The device is on 3G 24-hours a day. I also subscribed to Always On 20 which is Php20 for 25MB of bandwidth for 24 hours.
How active are you with using those apps?
If you follow me on Twitter, Google+ or FourSquare, you’d see I’m an average user (I don’t really consider myself a heavy user). Nevertheless, since the apps I used are running 24/7 in the background and constantly downloading status updates, I think I’m fairly on the average spectrum.
Did you ever exceeded the daily bandwidth allocation?
Not once. Sometimes, when I see that the expiration is near and my consumption is still below the quota, I would fire up some other apps (like YouTube, Maps or the browser) just to see how many MB that short activity would consume. Google Maps would eat up like 1MB just to show you your current location on the map; the front-page of YugaTech is also around 1MB to 2MB, depending on the banner ads that show up with it. A single YouTube stream can eat up between 1MB to 5MB.
So what is it good for?
Smart Always On is best for social networking apps like Twitter and FourSquare. It’s even good with GMail too but that will somehow depend on the volume of attachments you get on a daily basis. I think you can also add in Facebook and Google+ into the mix safely.
How about the other apps and mobile activities?
Frankly, I don’t see this being usable with web-browsing (even if it’s just mobile web). Imagine, loading the home page of this blog will already use up 1.9MB.
Other smartphone apps that will easily eat up your allocation are Google Maps, YouTube, DropBox. I don’t even recommend opening up the Android Market and downloading any apps when you’re on Always On (I suggest doing that via WiFi instead).
What’s the catch?
The only issue I think that they need to address (and I’ve talked to the Smart guys there about this) is the automatic switching of the internet billing to Php10 per 30 minutes once the Always On plan expires.
This happened to me when I was subscribed to the daily plan. Was asleep the whole morning and my plan had expired for several hours before I woke up and discovered it. I ended up being charged something like Php50 because of the switch to Php10/30 minute billing. I’d call this a minor bill-shock.
I suggested to Smart they provide an option for subscribers to disable mobile internet once the plan expires so there’s no way you get charged after that.
I think my sweet spot for Smart’s Always On would be the Php300 for 30 days with a 250MB allocation. If you’re just on Twitter, Gmail and FourSquare on your smartphone, this goes down to just Php10/day for 30 days. Will try that next time and update this post.