For a number of reasons, I have Telia’s “mobile broadband” service for my laptop (or netbook); it works as it should, and apart from being too slow, I have no issues with the technical delivery. Mobile connectivity, however, is so much more than a “broadband on a USB-stick”.
Some time ago, EU put limitations on how much money the various operators could charge with their so-called “roaming services”. This covered call costs. But what happened to data? Are you telling me they spent EUR-millions on meetings, working groups, drafts, arguing, etc. and they did not do this for data communication charges? Apparently, some sort of instrument is to be put in place by 2010 that will also cover data communication charges when roaming. After consumers and companies have spent a few more billion EUR on these data transfers. Well done EU, go go go! There’s nothing like fast and responsive politicians to build confidence. And there’s nothing like politicians that keep up with the times. Can you say INTERCONNECTIVITY? INTERNET? You may have heard of it. Läkerol doesn’t make people talk; the Internet does.
Airports and airlines need to get their act together. It is ridiculous to sit in an airport and not be able to connect to the internet unless you pull out your credit card and pay anywhere from EUR 3 to EUR 10 for an hour worth of internet connectivity. Seriously.. do you really want to sit with your credit card “out in the open”, typing in the numbers and other details, in an airport? Of course, if I go into the executive lounge, the wireless connectivity is “free”. Why not simply add this to the ticket price if you can’t deliver this as a free service. It’s an insult to travellers all around the world. Most people don’t have stop-overs longer than two hours.
So I have Telia as my mobile broadband provider. So I go on a business trip and happen to stop-over at the Copenhagen airport in Denmark. Being greeted by the “Welcome to Copenhagen Aiport WLAN, the cost for one hour access is …” banner when I open up my web browser, made me reach for the “USB-stick” that has Telia written on it. I connect it to the computer and initiate an internet connection. Telia is a pretty big operator in Scandinavia. Shortly after having connected to the 3G network, I receive an SMS to the computer that states “Welcome to Telia Network services Nordic AB; the following rates apply..”, and in the midst of that text message, it says “data traffic rate, 25 kr/MB”. That’s roughly EUR 2,4 per megabyte! The reason I cannot use my flat rate service is because I’m roaming. I’m roaming with the SAME COMPANY that I have a flat rate subscription with in Sweden. Way to go EU, way to go Telia (other operators do the same thing, because they can).
It would not surprise me one bit if the EU will put a cap on roaming charges levied on data traffic and word it in a way that’ll make the operators find loopholes (again) and screw their customers out of more money. Something along the lines of “these limitations shall be placed on GSM, GPRS, and 3G/UMTS data traffic” — making the operators jump up and down with joy since they’re about to launch their 4G networks. Politicians should not make decisions about things they don’t have the first f-ing clue about. But then again, if we did that, we wouldn’t have any decisions made ever 🙂
Affordable and efficient interconnectivity, regardless of my location, home network or provider, is a fundamental requirement to bring the EU, its people, and people outside the EU closer together. Calling these idiotic charge mechanisms trade obstacles is an understatement of no small proportions.
I would tell you to go to your local EU politician and yank their ear, if I thought they understood and cared about what you were talking about; but I have no such illusions.