Total Pageviews

Saturday, February 06, 2010

In praise of mobile broadband and tethered phones

I've been accused (frequently but only from one source;-) of being hard on wireless broadband - which isn't true, I'm very hard on European incumbent mobile phone companies, which isn't quite the same thing. I'm not convinced that Vodafone, Telefonica, TIM, T-Mobile (though they have moments) and Orange are the freedom-to-tinker loving closet hippies that some might like us to believe.
However, I will praise both handset manufacturers and my own mobile company, Hutchison 3 (by the people who originally brought you Orange when it was cool).
First my funky Samsung i8510 is proving as nice a phone as when I ordered it on a £20/month contract (that's pretty amazing value for a mini-computer with 300 national/3003-to-3 and 100 video minutes per month on a one year contract). Most importantly it has great speakers and 8GB internal memory, plus an 8Megapixel camera - so I just got an MP3 player, personal video player with its cool screen (not quite an iPhone but...), camera and phone rolled into one, for next to nothing. Its also a really good personal organizer.
Second, 3 continues to ramp up their coverage - I used to complain bitterly about indoor reception on their USB  'dongles' but now I get reasonably broadband-ish coverage except in the evening peak hours, and even then it still works at dial-up type speeds. Top speed received this morning is 1.8Mbps which is quite typical, though averages are way lower. I can actually watch YouTube most of the day if I wish, and its OKish for Skype to Canadian cell calls. Plus its £7.50/month for a 3GB cap. If as an early-mover I didn't get coverage, now it seems a real bargain. Note I have no fixed connection at home, saving squillions in line rentals etc.
But the really impressive piece of this is 3 championing the removal of 2G termination subsidies which fixed operators have paid hand-over-fist to mobiles across Europe forever - its only a really big deal in the UK because BT divested its mobile arm in the dot-com credit crunch of its own, and that means almost all Uk landlines for several years were cashpoints for mobile companies (obviously elsewhere in Europe if you own a mobile company, and the largest one in your own country, you're less exercised by rate distortion).
So 28,000 cheers for  more power to them!
Which makes me wonder whether Jonathan Zittrain's article in the FT about the iPad wasn't over-egging the pudding somewhat? The US DoJ gave up on the Microsoft case after Dubya took office, but the European Commission kept jabbing for almost 10 years. Nevertheless, Windows had to be opened up and was. But that was a monopoly. Apple? Well, isn't that the company where status-craving graphics designers waste their money? As long as we have PCs that competition authorities keep open platforms, I don't care what an obscure brushed-aluminium company does to its gullible customers - although it better be careful in Europe with iTunes.

No comments: