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Friday, September 21, 2007

Mobile data roaming continued

...I'm still trying to work out the best option for data roaming for my business device. I've come to the conclusion that I'll have to make sure I do nothing more than download 2kb email headers except in extreme circumstances, and wait till I get WiFi coverage.

The thing I find most astonishing is the discrepancy (hypocrisy?) between roaming charges on a phone, vs. on a laptop. Vodafone's €12-a-day HSDPA laptop tariff gives fair use up to 50MB - ie about 20p per MB. Others are roughly similar... and thus perhaps 30x cheaper than handset rates. Shame it's not easy to use an always-on laptop as a sort of 'reverse modem' for a cellphone via Bluetooth, really.

There seem to be 2 exceptions to all of this:

- 3 is to be congratulated on having no roaming premium at all on either X-series or its USB 3G modem services... as long as you're on a 3 Network, which restricts you to Ireland, Italy, HK, Australia and a few others. Elsewhere it won't work at all.

- Mysteriously, my local Vodafone shop insists that if I get a BlackBerry, then email roaming is free on all European partner networks (but not web browsing). Unfortunately, nothing in the brochures they gave me, nor the Voda website, seems to spell this out clearly & unequivocally. There's still the 'up to £10 a MB' line for roaming. The shop doesn't have any printed price plan, so if I go for it, I'll have to video/record the staff telling it to me verbally, I guess.

I actually contacted the UK's Office of Fair Trading alleging anti-competitive behaviour about data roaming last week, but got a negative response directing me to Ofcom or the telecom ombudsman (?). When I get a chance I think I'll pursue both options as this whole thing is completely galling.

Going back to my multiplicity theme.... if anyone else out there wants to suggest to me that you can run your entire communications life on a single mobile device, I'll gladly bet them a year's data roaming costs that they're wrong.....


Martin Geddes said...

My Nokia E60 has an "IP Passthrough" mode precisely to support that scenario of using your laptop as the gateway to the Net.

Liviou said...

As you point out, the data rate on phones are sooo high!!

No wonder data ARPU has not taken off! Mobile operators have so far totally misunderstood the Internet mindset and missed the revenues too!

They have made a BIG mistake as people now got adverse to these services since phone data = expensive!! This will survive for sometime and stop people from massively using new services (eg mobile music, mobile TV, IM...).

Knowing that wireless bandwidth is indeed scarce and expensive they should have approached it differently:
- instead of limiting access by overpricing, they should have work much faster on dedicated / optimized mobile services. Those Operamini, Streamezzo, Twuik offer lightweight / low-bandwidth / attractive solutions for mobile data.

- As demand (and revenues) increase, further invest in packet technology (eg base station density, HSPA, LTE, WiMax).