More than a decade ago, I went on an Alaskan cruise with my then-girlfriend, now-wife. This was before I got into blogging professionally, so I wasn’t as joined at the hip with the Internet as I am now. Even so, we wanted to check our email while on the ship, so we went to the on-board cyber cafe. Then, we learned that they charged by the minute. And the connection was horrendously slow.

Eventually, it took us almost half an hour to fire off a couple of “quick” emails back home. The notion of paying for Internet access based on time might make sense when you’re using someone else’s terminal, but what about when you’re using your own phone? That’s the direction Verizon is apparently taking with its new PopData offering, which arms you with unlimited data in 30 or 60 minute increments.

This is above and beyond the regular wireless plan you already have with your phone. The idea is that you don’t eat into your monthly data bucket when you know you’ll be consuming an above-average amount of data in the next little while. Maybe you’re streaming a bunch of NFL games. Maybe you’re downloading an especially large (but important) file. Maybe you want to Netflix and chill without worrying about your data cap.

One way to think about PopData, as the Verge’s Nick Statt puts it, is like a microtransaction in a mobile game. You already have the bigger package, but you can pay a little more to get a little more right now. Offered on a pay-as-you-go, as-needed basis, PopData comes in two main tiers. You can get 30 minutes of unlimited data for $2 or a full hour for $3. So, if you plan on watching three hours of football, that’ll run you $9.

It’s both a novel and an archaic idea. After getting flooded by customer complaints last month, Verizon is willing to try anything. Anything but truly unlimited monthly plans, of course.

Via The Verge

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