Goodbye 3G, hello new (and slightly more expensive) 4G telco plans

Waived 4G charges? The hard truth is, you are still paying more for the speed boost, says Tein Hee
Goodbye 3G, hello new (and slightly more expensive) 4G telco plans

StarHub has finally announced the price plans for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Sadly, it has also confirmed what I have feared all along - 4G services are no longer free.

You read that right. Yes, all three telcos have said that 4G VAS fees are permanently waived. But did you realise that you’re going to pay more, between S$2 to S$3 per month, for these newly announced plans built for the iPhone?

We see the look of horror on your face. Yeah, let that sink in for a while before you read on.

So what’ll happen to the existing plans that you’ve been using? Gone with the wind, starting from this Friday, 19 September. New and re-contract subscribers to any of the three telcos will have to choose from these new (and slightly more expensive) 4G plans. Not all non-4G plans are wiped out though, as the telcos have confirmed that there will be some affordable options that’s less generous with the data bundle.

Goodbye 3G, hello new (and slightly more expensive) 4G telco plans

Put that stricken look away before you get a cramp on your face, the new 4G plans were bound to happen. Considering that Singapore is 4G-ready, with all three telcos promising island-wide 4G network coverage (well, sort of if you don’t enter a dead zone or experience sudden outage), it makes sense for this to happen. After all, almost every new smartphone you’re eyeing is a 4G-enabled device. No one in their right mind would want to get a 3G plan, opt out of 4G and use a 4G phone.

It’s like buying a Ferrari and driving it at a snail’s pace on the road. You get the drift (or not, in this case).

This isn’t an opportunity for us to rant and bemoan the loss of the cheaper 3G plans. Rather, it’s a sign of progress. Singapore has become so dependent on speed and efficiency that it’s imperative that everything, including our data speed, should move at lightning-quick speed. Besides faster mobile speeds, there are more benefits. “A migration to LTE may pave the way for Voice-over-LTE services, which promises higher voice quality,” said Ryan Tay, senior research manager at research firm IDC.

Plus, the alternative to signing up for a non-4G plan, and being faced with the possibility of paying S$10.70 for the 4G VAS service once the promotional period is over just doesn’t make economical sense. Not if you only have to pay S$2 to S$3 just to get that speed boost with the new 4G plans.

But getting the speed boost isn’t going to be useful for everyone. “Regular consumers who just make calls, surf the net or use regular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook or Google Maps might not find it attractive at the moment,” said Tay.

READ MOREStarHub has started charging new and re-contracting customers for 4G service

Goodbye 3G, hello new (and slightly more expensive) 4G telco plans

Unfortunately, this move by the three telcos has negated my earlier opinion. Without the choice to opt out of 4G, it has turned into a suck-it-up situation. The whole premise behind the 3G plans is based on the fact that you have a choice. Remove it from the equation, and you don’t have much, if any, choice left.

Of course, there’s still the option to get affordable under-S$200 phones from brands such as Xiaomi and ZTE. But the undeniable fact is, even these phones are moving with the times and have 4G connectivity options for their flagship models, which are also ridiculously affordable at half the price of a Samsung Galaxy S5 or Apple iPhone 6. Subsidising these dirt cheap phones with a two-year contract also means you won't be paying a single cent for them.

Ask not why, but why not take up these 4G plans. Believe us, resistance is futile, and the stubborn refusal to make the 4G switch is only delaying the inevitable. So this week, we’re not just bidding farewell to the iPod Classic. Rest in peace, 12GB and 3G data plans. You've served us well.