Roman’s Rants – Mobile Data in Europe

For fuck’s sake! We’re in the middle of a bloody revolution in communication and commerce and I have to worry about an insanely high mobile phone bill because I dared to venture into a neighboring country and collect a couple of mails?! Granted, of course it’s charming to have all the little peculiarities in the tête-à-tête of 27 countries they call the European Union. Sauerkraut in Germany, windmills in the Netherlands, fog in London – you get the picture.

It’s hard enough to find a common denominator for more than 500 million people speaking 23 languages. The Euro, as badly it was conceived and as battered and torn it appears at the moment, was a brilliant idea, not only for intracontinental trade but also for the people not having to carry gazillions of fucking currencies around once they planned to ride their car for more than a dozen kilometres. The whole idea of data roaming just pisses me off. If anyone wants to make a serious attempt at making serious money with mobile commerce for instance, he has to make sure that the barriers of using the underlying infrastructure are as low as possible. Do you believe that major sites such as Facebook, Amazon and Google would have taken off on stationary PCs the way they did if people still had to pay using the Internet by the minute? These days, you pay your flat fee and you can have your browser opened 24/7 if you like. As a result, people spend hours each day doodling with their social network stuff and going on digital shopping sprees. And as a result of that, there are now web companies out there worth billions of dollars.

Ironically, mobile devices connected to the web are at their best when they are on the move – d’oh! Business trips or holidays, your connectivity is right there in your pocket. Want to find a good restaurant or local offers, download a book for reading at the beach or do some product research because spending time in lush countryside makes you think about buying some gardening tools – you name it. As said before, when you are on the move in Europe you’ll end up in a different country in no time; if using your mobile phone will almost ruin you, you’ll not use it. Or, to put it differently: To enable mobile business you need to enable the users. This is no fucking rocket science!

You might argue that the service providers need to find a way to monetise their infrastructure. Two responses come to mind here: Firstly, if a Dutch user surfs the mobile web in Germany and a German uses his iPhone in Amsterdam, this usage evens out to some degree – so there’s absolutely no justification for those sky-high prices. Secondly, it’s about time carriers understood that nowadays the business model of being the gatekeeper of some dumb radio frequencies is obsolete. There are so many ways in which service providers could earn their cash – and no, I don’t mean fucking bloatware on mobile phones! – so get your act together and do something about it. Otherwise, people will find other ways of organising their mobile web – cross-border style. (Image by osde8info)

Once in a while, a spade needs to be called a spade. In this weekly column, I share my own take on things that surround me and for some reason or other, piss me off. Reader discretion is advised!

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