Recent travels outside of US ignite my hate to cell phone providers yet again.
Going to Canada means you’re going to pay $0.79 per minute and over $15.0 per MB of traffic which with standard iPhone use pattern would run hundreds of dollars a day. Disabling data roaming makes it stupid brick with even voicemail not working properly.
What I’d like to see is the decoupling the cell phones from the network providers. I would like to pay what device costs with no stupid long term contract with hefty monthly fees. When I want to be able to register cell phone with number of cell phone providers – same as I can have multiple subscription for WIFI for my laptop. I would chose to pay monthly fee for unlimited data for some US provider and have reasonable per minute and per MB rates in other countries I visit. In Canada I’d like to pay same rates as Canadian can pay for pay as you go rates.
For “Data” it is especially simple. There is no real need for any “roaming” with data, the phone can communicate with local internet gateway. With phone number, you could use a portable number which follows you using some service similar to Google Voice (Number of people use Google Voice or Skype already to map their phone number to the cell phone number they carry in the country they travel to) The providers now get “oligopoly” gain by making sure your phone belongs only to one one provider and they may not love such mobility and being commoditized to plain network providers, yet I believe they can be pushed this direction with some open phone platforms. With Android you can already use Google Voice quite conveniently and set things up to use multiple WiFi when available. It would be just great to add ability to register phone with multiple
providers. The challenge of course is mass distribution channel for such device. Cell phone network providers are not interested in making it easy for you to use other services. Cell phones they cell are often customized to their content and services even if they are based on open Platform as Android. In US especially there is not a huge market for unlocked phones which can run on any network and which are not customized for the network they run on. Though this may change and I hope it will change.