Those global roaming costs and Kindle in NZ

I’m glad to hear via NBR that both Vodafone and Telecom are fighting for the rights to deliver Kindle content. That’s good, and I hope for the sake of all of us that they can offer a data roaming price to AT&T that is somewhat less than the current number.

Oh – and while they are at it, how about reducing the data roaming prices for everyone?

Let’s look at the numbers.

AT&T offers international data roaming packages ranging from US$25 for 20 MB up to $200 for 200MB. (That’s $1,250 per GB and $1000 per GB). Those “discount rates” apply to over 90 countries.

Otherwise the casual roaming rate is the even more crippling $19,500 per GB. That’s about the same as Vodafone and Telecom’s.

A Kindle book ranges from a few hundred KB to 2-4 MB, while The Economist averages around 7MB per weekly issue. (You can get books that are much larger, if you are intent on maximising your cost versus price paid ratio.)

At the most discounted rate that would be about $7 per Economist issue, and at the casual rate that’s about $140 per issue. Given that the Kindle subscription for The Economist costs $10 per month, I imagine the bean counters at Amazon would have had something to say.

Indeed they do. US customers will be charged a fee of $1.99 per book or magazine issue for international downloads. Let’s see what that implies for the price Amazon is paying for data roaming.

The average size of the 114 items on my Kindle is 1.35 MB. That implies that the most discounted roaming rate of $1000/GB is a reasonable assumption – giving an average cost to Amazon of US$1.35 per download.

That’s sad – as it also implies that AT&T may not have received superior roaming deals with their roaming partners. It means we are still in the dark ages of global roaming.

However (again), it is interesting to note that while Vodafone NZ is on the list of 90 partners for AT&T’s Global Roaming discount program, we do not yet have a NZ Kindle offering.

Given that, and given that Amazon has yet to select an Australian roaming partner, this means that there is more to the deal than the standard data prices. And there is – Amazon can negotiate a local deal to deliver to local Kindle buyers at much cheaper rates. At the very least they are probably pushing for all you can eat plans, based on the average Kindle user consumption.

So – good luck Vodafone and Telecom, and especially good luck to AT&T. I had hoped that the Kindle could be the catalyst for reducing global roaming charges to something more reasonable – but we will have to wait and see. Well done to Amazon for putting this together tough. The Kindle is an exceptional device, and deserves a global audience.

Now I will go and read the Economist.

Published by Lance Wiggs


9 replies on “Those global roaming costs and Kindle in NZ”

  1. so when can I get a kindle with wifi as well as 3G access? that way I could slurp the books in via my LAN as opposed to having to slurp via some ridiculously expensive bit-stream that I could barely afford.

    it looks to me as if the kindle is an aspirational product with the download cost being so high.


  2. Aside from the $1.99 US folk pay for international roaming the Kindle includes all you can eat downloads for free (or in the price of books). I imagine wifi chews up too much battery/processing power.


  3. Ah, I see.

    Most mobile telephony wireless has power management features that ensure you only use what power you need to communicate. WiFi is totally different and always uses the same maxed-out power.

    Yep, there would be no way to get a long uptime with WiFi enabled. After all my iPod Touch only manages a 3-4 days before its power far enough to demand a recharge.

    I still don’t see how the all-you-can-eat downloads is going to work here. I just cannot see Amazon finding a partner prepared to do that for them.


  4. All you can eat for the consumer is simple – just include the cost of the download in the price.

    From the cost side just cut a deal with a telco per device based on the average user’s downloads, with reset options each month/six months based on average actual usage.


  5. I came to your site through google while trying to find out if the Economist will ever be available on Kindle in countries outside the US (Australia specifically). At $140 per issue in bandwidth fees, I doubt it! :-(


  6. I am so impressed by the Kindle 2. I am a brand new Kindle owner and cannot believe the funcitons that this Kindle has! I ordered my first electronic book and before I knew it, it was there! I love all the functions especially the Dictionary! I’m using that more than I thought I would. I doubt very much if I will ever regret getting the Kindle 2. This is a superb product and I am totally in love!!!!

    T. J. VanEtten


  7. I’ve only had my Kindle for a short time but I love it. I’m an avid reader and it’s very easy to use. I can take it with me when I travel and just read at home. The only thing that is different is that you can’t tell how many pages are in the book so I just watch the percentage to see how far along I am.


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