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Monday, February 14, 2011

Mobile net neutrality: some thoughts

As Neelie Kroes explains that roaming competition has proved a total failure, and that retail price regulation may be the only medium-term solution, its worth contemplating the nature of what she describes as no " justification for the current rip-offs". That issue is intimately entangled with the usage-based billing controversy I have previously described. An interesting tweet from Tomoaki Watanabe at GLOCOM (where I am a Fellow) describes how a 30 GIGABYTE UPLOAD limit PER DAY is now being imposed in Japan...good grief, Europe is behind on fibre, as another Kroes' speech gently suggests.
As Neelie points out, things have improved and now its just "less than 5 cents for downloading a MB of data at home, but this may turn into 2.60 Euro per MB when the same consumer crosses an invisible border!" In fact, I pay £7.68 for 5GB at home, which is just 1.5cents. But roaming - well, just don't switch your phone on...
So back to that 1.5cents per day - with 5GB ceiling - and I must at this point explain that as a constant complainer and researcher, i think I have the best deal available in Europe.
Well, Europe is lagging hopelessly behind competitors on mobile, with Symbian and Ericsson's near-deaths and Nokia's perhaps terminal nosedive on smartphones, we may be commoditised according to Mobile Megatrends (thanks to Gunnar Bender for the link). Neelie rather wonderfully described it as phones from the Far East and content from the Far West squeezing old Europe.
Europe is all dongled up as far as it will go, and we are now getting Smartphoned to match the more civilized parts of the world - and notably smartphones now ship more than computers - and cost more. Allegedly and ludicrously, market research claims we want to pay more for real broadband speeds. That would make mobile unique amongst IT products, it appears tenuous, even Mubarak-like to even say such a thing.
Mobile has tried to keep inside its little bubble in Europe, but Nokia's CEO has popped that complacency, smartphones have shattered it, and we are living in a new world - consumers expect convergence to produce faster speeds, lower prices and Moore's Law improvements in handsets. We make low-end handsets, outmoded OS, ludicrous roaming charges and expensive low-speed mobile networks. The emperor's clothes are translucent at best.


Zed said...

£7.68 for 5GB is expensive. I pay 3€ per month for unlimited 3G on a SIM-only tariff in Finland. Of course month-to-month, I would never take a fixed term contract. It is truly unlimited and I can use it with anything, smartphone, tethering, dongle, you name it.

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