Why are cellular data rates so much higher than cable data rates?

August 23, 2018 at 6:25 PM
Why can I get high speed relaible internet at home for $30 with a 500gb per month download limit


but it costs $30 a month for the 2gigs of spotty 4G data plan for my smart phone?

So why are cellular data rates so much more expensive? Do they cost more to produce or provide?


August 24, 2018 at 6:07 PM
All those towers...and no incentive for cell providers to lower rates



August 24, 2018 at 6:21 PM
Milking the cow for all its worth. Doesnt cost them more to provide data then it does on your cable side. Both get it from the same back bone.


The big hurdle is rack space. More people you have demanding data, more rack space you need to help offset the load. Each tower can only handle so many users do the wireless bandwidth, vs hard lines. In the end its all about $$. Long as their is wireless data demands, they are going ot milk it for all they can. Till 5G comes out and then they might lower it down.

One thing to consider, is these Cell companies dont own every cell tower, they are lease to them via private investors.


August 24, 2018 at 6:49 PM
It is more expensive, in many different ways (not just money) to transfer data over a wireless medium. For starters, it is a bandwidth issue. Cell towers are limited to which frequencies they can use. And the wider the bandwidth, the more data they can transmit (and receive) to and from your phone. There is what is called spatial reuse of frequencies. As long as another phone at the same frequency is sufficiently far way (probably the distance covered by two towers), two phones can use the same frequency since they are talking to two different towers.


Wireless data is also more expensive from a pure money perspective because it costs a lot in electricity to run one. There is a lot of signal loss between you and the tower. Cell towers use directional antennas, but even so, the signal will propagate in various directions. A cell tower can radiate a signal at up to 500W (more likely 100-200W). Yet, the power received by your phone is on the order of 0.00000000001W (actually less than that). It takes a lot of energy to produce a signal that can actually make it to your cell phone.

Whereas the loss over a cable line is minimal in comparison to wireless. And there is also the benefit of spatial reuse - the signal doesn't escape the cable. Cable companies can theoretically send/receive data across the entire bandwidth that the cable line supports. And then locally between you and your neighbor, you each can get 50MB/s using the same frequency since it isn't like his cable line will interfere with yours.

A poor metaphor for the difference would be this:

Imagine you need to transfer water (data) from a water faucet in your backyard to your neighbor's backyard. You can get a long enough hose, run it across the street and then turn on the water. And you get full pressure from that hose. Now, let's say you didn't have a hose but you wanted to move that same water/data. Instead, you get an oscillating water sprinkler (not the pulsating one). You back up about 100 ft and turn on the water, the water is spraying everywhere, but not close enough to you. You apply even more water pressure - a ridiculous amount of pressure (200 watts if it was energy). And you try to catch the mist from the sprinkler. Not the water itself, but the mist.

You probably expended about 200 gallons of water trying to catch about tablespoon of water from mist. And all that other water that you needed just "poofed" into the rest of the atmosphere.


August 24, 2018 at 10:09 PM
yea it sucks. on one hand it really doesnt cost them any data fees, its the tower and light bill that eats up their profit margin.



August 29, 2018 at 9:43 PM
Like one of the poster said above, it basically comes down to bandwidth. Compare your home wifi connection to a wired connection (if you have any). While cellular and wireless aren't exactly the same technology it should give you an idea of comparing wireless to wired. We run a mix of both at home and when multiple people are streaming or downloading the wifi chokes. Stream a 4k UHD movie over wifi and it's a slide show. Over wired Ethernet I can stream the same movie from the server to multiple devices without one skip. So if you can move tons and tons of data more efficiently then it's going to be much cheaper to do it as well.



August 29, 2018 at 9:59 PM
My Wifi and Ethernet are about the same speed. 70Mbps.



September 5, 2018 at 3:13 PM
Your internet and your wifi may be the same speed. But not your ethernet. Even a really old school router can handle 100Mbps and these days, 1 Gbps is sort of standard. The difference being that if your computer had a local copy of a video located on its hard drive, that computer could stream that video to another device in your house (a roku) at 10 Mbps while also downloading another video at 70Mbps. So your router is actually moving 80 Mbps (or more). And while all of that is going on, maybe another computer on the network is transferring a file at 50 Mbps to a laptop.


Your ethernet handles a lot more than your internet speed.

As for your wifi, if your signal strength is good enough, it will nearly match your internet speed.