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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Carnival of the Mobilists, Dongles and 3G

My post from last week about 3G-embedded laptops is listed in this week's Carnival of the Mobilists at Xellular Identity - many thanks. There's also a link to another similar article talking about 3G dongles and their possible impact on WiFi hotspots, from Andrew Grill of Seeker Wireless.

I certainly agree with him that the sort of cheap deals available on 3G modems in some European countries could well impact hotspots - coupled with the sheer rapacious idiocy of some hotspot WISPs over the last four years, who have managed to squander an almost unassailable lead in providing data connectivity. There are still plenty of hotels that charge €25 for WiFi, or ludicrous sums for conference organisers.

I'd single out Swisscom as one of the worst offenders I tend to come across - they've prompted me to go in search of 'free WiFi' cafes near hotels on numerous occasions. The other particularly crass example of WiFi pricing that sticks in my mind is that of Kubi Wireless at the Fira in Barcelona, although it wouldn't surprise me if the GSMA quietly has a word with them to encourage high prices during 3GSM (actually, it wouldn't surprise me if the GSMA tries to take a cut as well, given their general philosophy of applying "resentment-based pricing" to anything they can control, such as analyst registration for 3GSM.... but that's another post)

I just wish Hutchison 3 had a network in Spain, so I could benefit from their zero-roaming data charges during this year's 3GSM....

On the other hand, some other countries and WISPs just seem to "get" pricing for WiFi. I've noticed that on recent trips to the US I've been able to completely avoid cellular data roaming charges, as there has been free/cheap/easy WiFi almost everywhere. And some bits of Europe get it right too.

On a related note, I see that O2 is cutting its data roaming pricing. Well, it's a start, but £3 per MB is still a couple of zeros too high to get the European Commission off their backs. (And I hadn't realised that prepay roaming was previously £15 per meg. Ouch, talk about bill shock).

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