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Monday, October 30, 2006

GSMA verging on hypocrisy... methinks they do protest too much

The European arm of the GSM Association has put out a frankly risible press release this morning, bemoaning the increasing intervention from EU regulators in the mobile industry.

Quoth GSM Europe Chair chair Kaisu Karvala “This review should be about enabling European businesses to develop in an open and competitive environment which facilitates efficient businesses delivering innovative products at fair prices.”

Ah, so in other words, you're happy that oh-so-"innovative" products like basic GPRS/UMTS data roaming are at "fair prices" then? And that there should be no "premium" for terminating calls to a mobile, versus a fixed network, as you're so keen on promoting the notion of substitution and replacement? And you're disappointed that the European Commission is adding regulation in areas like wholesale SMS? Really?

Well, I'm sorry, but that's what you get for your members pursuing an ignorance-based pricing policy in so many areas, and resentment-based pricing in others. (See my earlier post here for the new way of classifying telecom tariffs)

But hang on, what's this at the bottom of the release?

"In general the Commission’s overall aim to increase flexibility and efficiency of spectrum is welcome. However, the demonstrable merits of harmonisation and prevention of interference under the current regime should be maintained. This means a cautious and evolutionary approach and a suitable transition period"

Ah, I see. So regulation's a bad thing, unless its removal is unfortunately threatening to let in those unpleasant WiMAX chaps to "your" promised 2.5GHz spectrum? Or release slices of spare GSM spectrum for new applications like low-power indoor coverage? But you'd still like the possible "flexibility" to refarm 900MHz for UMTS, perhaps?

And so if it was "demonstrable" to economically prove that value would be added by spectrum neutrality, with appropriate measures to prevent interfence, you'd also be happy, I take it?

I'm just looking forward to the post-consolidation fights where the "fixed" side of a newly-integrated operator wants 2.5GHz WiMAX, and the mobile side wants 2.5GHz UMTS.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm....spend billions on licences, and networks, then have someone be given the same amount of spectrum for little or nought...what message does that send to the capital markets? We all benefit from proven, evolutionary standards with robust security, wide handset choice, low cost and global portability. The likes of WiMax will offer NONE of those benefits.

Yes, it does look hypocritical...but what's at risk? £Bn's of long-term investment. WiMax will deliver no benefit over HSDPA, and that's here, now, at much lower price points for both devices and network hardware than WiMax could ever hope to achieve.


Dean Bubley said...

What message does it send?

a) Don't spend billions unless you're 100% sure you can roll out something worthwhile, before the inevitable cheaper/better/faster rival technology comes along
b) A good fraction of value in the technology industry comes from proprietary products rather than standardised ones. Sometimes something pragmatic-but-now beats something perfect-but-delayed
c) There's a ready market demand for technologies which economically support "data pipe" business models. A significant proportion of end-users just want connectivity, not integrated services. Competition between architectures at the access layers increases the likelihood of satisfying this latent demand.

And anyway.... "proven evolutionary standards"... "low cost"... "robust security"... that could equally well describe ethernet as UMTS.