Faster Smartphone Data on the Way, But it Will Cost You

5G promises to be 40-times faster, but average mobile phone bills could rise

(Image: Thinkstock)
(Image: Thinkstock)

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure recently told Code Conference that the mobile carrier’s unlimited data plans would not last forever—though no date was specified for when they might end or that they would end anytime soon.

[Related: Tech Consumption Changes Expected As Millennials Outnumber Baby Boomers]

But according to, Claure says smartphones are devouring data and it’s no longer practical to offer unlimited plans that, in the past, were used to lure customers to switch carriers in the highly competitive mobile space. And while Sprint will inevitably raise its prices to the more profitable capped plans, another development could see faster speeds for consumers, but also steeper bills.

CNN Money reports that before the decade’s end, faster smartphone data in the form of 5G could make its way to phones—and its speeds are up to 40 times faster than  4G. As an example of just how fast, Nokia promised that 5G would let people stream an “8K” video in 3-D—and the picture would be 16 times clearer than an HD video. Additionally, the report says users could download a 3-D movie in about six seconds versus the six minutes it takes to do the same thing using 4G.

But while your Netflix and FaceTiming experience might be more intense, so, too, will the bills. According to CNN Money, the Bureau of Labor says the average mobile phone bill in 2013 was $76 a month, which is 50% higher than the 2007 average of $51. Coincidentally, that was the year the iPhone made its debut. Additionally, Cisco predicts that by 2019, mobile data traffic to and from cell towers, and not offloaded to Wi-Fi, is going to grow by 57%. With those numbers as bases, it’s predicted that cellphone bills will grow a whopping $43—bringing the monthly damage to $119 a month.

Though the changes are sure to be gradual, the fees will likely have many consumers looking for ways to reduce their monthly bills and finding other options to maximize data plans.

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