Rhett Allain at Wired has a great (and detailed) article about the real cost of data transfer per GB. He has created two ficticious users, Joe and Zelda; the former a “typical” user and the latter a “power” user. The above image is one of many graphs showing the costs per GB of various data plans.
By far my favorite, however, is looking at FedEx as a possible means of data transfer. Allain spells it out better than my summary could:
What if I wanted to transfer 2 TB of data (2048 GB) by shipping a 2 TB hard drive. What kind of data rate would this cost (per month)? Just to be crazy. First, I would have to buy a drive. Amazon has a 2 TB for $80 (shipping weight of 2 pounds). So, I would get this drive and I would transfer my data. How long would this take? If I can get a data transfer rate of 500 MBps, that would be around 1 hour. I think that is crazy (but what do I know?). Let me say it takes 5 hours to get my data on the drive.
Next, I need to ship it. Suppose I want to send it from New York to L.A. FedEX lists a 2 pound package delivered overnight as $103.69. It says delivery by 8:00 AM (I guess that is Pacific Time). Also, not sure about when I can drop it off. Let me just say that the total transit (from door to door) is about 12 hours.
What is the price per GB? Simple, 2048 GB divided by the cost of $183.69 gives $11 per GB $0.09 per GB (thanks @perry!). What kind of data speed would this be? Looks like about 48 MBps.