mannerisms

Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.

The Year Freedom Comes To Mobile Comms

This could be the year freedom comes to mobile comms.

Last year Apple briefly floated the idea of a soft-SIMM handset which could sniff out the best signal and lock onto it via a brief transaction with iTunes.

 

And last year ST-Ericsson produced a two-SIMM chip-set which is a transitional step towards the soft-SIMM.

 

Suddenly we see the light of freedom beckoning for mobile comms where the operators compete to provide the best signal, and handset makers compete to provide the best phone.

 

Mobile operators are very old hat guys. They pay a massive cost of entry to their business in spectrum purchase and infrastructure investment, and they want to try and lock in their customers by subsidising handsets tied to their network.

 

Just as the breweries used to have tied houses – so customers were forced to drink the beer which the breweries dictated.

 

And, just as the brewers then foisted shitty beer on their customers, so have the network operators foisted shitty signals on their customers.

 

Could this be Liberation Year?

 

Let’s hope.

 

Tomorrow Morning: The Top Ten Porkies Entrepreneurs tell VCs.

Tags: brewers, briefly, infrastructure investment, network operators, tomorrow morning

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4 Comments

  1. David Manners
    January 10, 2011 20:43

    You’re right, El Rupester, an unlocked phone and a handful of Pay-as-you -go SIMs for different parts of the UK and various foreign countries is the best answer – for the time being. It’s just that most people can’t be hacked to put it all together – and the network operators encourage and rely on that inertia to practice their black arts IMHO.

  2. El Rupester
    January 10, 2011 14:49

    Sorry – still don’t see it. You can have your desired power balance today: buy an unlocked handset and use any Pay-as-you-go SIM.
    That works today. Of course, it costs more (a lot more) than buying in bulk / making a commitment with a monthly contract.
    Having a soft-Sim would be more convenient, but it will still cost more.

  3. David Manners
    January 10, 2011 11:41

    It’s not just a user convenience thing IMHO, El Rupester, it’s an industry power balace thing. If more power is given to handest makers and users, and less power is in the hands of the network operators, then the network operators will have to compete to supply the best network to attract customers.. This is important as investment in the networks tends to lag demand rather than getting ahead of it with the consequences we all know and hate. As we’ve seen, the operators haven’t grown capex for a couple of years despite exploding demand from the likes of Google, Facebook and YouTube users. So untethering handsets from network operators seems to me to be a powerful force for getting the network operators to compete with eachother to provide stable,unclogged networks. PS You’re right it should be SIM – SIMM was a slip – sorry

  4. El Rupester
    January 09, 2011 20:47

    I don’t follow this at all…
    First, pedantically, I think you mean SIM (as in cellphone) not SIMM (as in DRAM).
    Secondly, phones with two SIMs are very common. Nokia announced their C series last year, but lots of the Shanzai have been making them for ages. Often ‘on network’ calls (eg Voda-Voda, 3-3) are cheap or free, but ‘cross network’ cost more. So if you don’t mind the effort of remembering which network to call which person on, and having different numbers depending on who is calling then you can save money.
    I couldn’t be bothered, but then I’m not living on $5/day.
    But why do you think that ‘call by call’ pricing would save you money?
    After all, you can already buy unlocked phones and have several PAYG SIMs. Do you bother? Why would this offer anything more?
    Normally buying in small pieces costs more.
    Buy a case of wine is a lot cheaper than buying it a glass at a time, even if I were to renegotiate on the price of each glass.