With unlimited bandwidth, unlimited night time calling, flat rate long distance and local calling becoming the buzzwords, you would think that the consumer spending on communications would shrink drastically. Well that is not the case, for we are spending more, because we are communicating more. And MIT management professor Thomas Malone thinks that’s actually a good thing, especially for those he calls e-lancers, or a growing mass of Internet connected folks who work from home in their Daffy Duck pajamas.
Twenty years ago, when the Bell System formally closed down shop, a consumer household that made a fair number of long distance calls may have paid $80 or $90 a month for phone service in today’s dollars, plus another $10 for paper, stamps and envelopes. Grand total: less than $100 for your household’s entire communications budget. Today you might pay closer to $50 for unlimited local and long distance. So far, so good. But you surely own a cell phone as well, so at another $50 apiece that’s about $100 for a two-adult household. Then add another $50 a month for broadband Internet access, and you’re up to about $200. But wait–you’ve probably got an extra service or two, such as cellular Internet access, text messaging, pager, or paid Wi-Fi access. And then there are all those activation fees and hardware costs to factor in. In the end you could easily be paying $200 to $250 a month, more than twice what you paid in the bad old days of high communications costs.