Preventing bill shock is the motive behind a 4G phone plan under trial by Live Connected, a mobile virtual network operator riding on the Optus network.
Live Connected is conducting a one-month trial of what it calls a “sliding plan”. Under the plan, customers who exceed their talk or data limits are automatically moved up to a higher tier plan for the rest of the month. At the end of the month, the telco restores the customer’s original plan.
Under most other plans in Australia, customers are charged an excess fee when they exceed their contract limits. Depending on the plan, that could lead to a bill being significantly more expensive than what the same telcos’ higher-tier plan would have cost.
Live Connected is trialling the sliding plan in Sydney. If it’s “well received”, the MVNO will expand it to the rest of Australia. Optus supports the trial, according to Live Connected.
The MVNO’s sliding plans cost $50 for $500 talk and 1GB data; $60 for $700 talk and 1.5GB data; $80 for $900 talk and 2GB data; and $100 for unlimited talk and 3GB data. National SMS is unlimited on all the plans.
Live Connected announced the sliding plan one day after the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) warned consumers about 4G plans that appear cheap but put customers at strong risk for higher-than-expected phone bills.
Before releasing the sliding plan, Live Connected made a decision not to offer 3G or 4G plans with less than 1GB of data, the company’s founder, Roshan Mahanama told Computerworld Australia.
“The reason we did this was that we noticed how quickly 200MB or even 500MB can get used up,” he said.
He said even though new reforms require advertisers to be more transparent with customers about their tariff charges, the customer can still fall into a "set and forget" mindset and exceed the limits of their plan.
Live Connected isn’t the only MVNO experimenting with billing to differentiate itself from the competition. New telco Yatango Mobile recently announced a slider-based Web interface that lets customers adjust the amount of minutes, text messages, data and international voice minutes they purchase each month.
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