Sun Mar 1, 2009
The actual title in the article in Ars Technica is “Cellular providers want Nokia to drop Skype from cell phones”.
Two cell service providers in the UK are supposedly up in arms over Nokia's inclusion of Skype software on its N97 handset, and are threatening not to carry the device unless the software is ditched. This stance is not only annoying to consumers who are beginning to like VoIP, but it could also even hurt the carriers' business in the long run. more
I find this pretty upsetting, and makes me want to rewrite the sentence to say the opposite: “Nokia to drop Cellular providers”. My sentence is of course just an exaggeration, but I wish it could happen. I find the prices of cell phone calls and messages very high compared to the price of data transmission over DSL or cable. The thing is, I could have an iPhone touch with WiFi or some other portable device where I can install any software I want. Then I could send and receive any data I choose, including bidirectional audio (Voip, like Skype for example), video calls, or text as long as I want, not just 160 characters. That’s pretty much unlimited monthly transfer without paying for each call or message. No abusive charges for roaming either. There are projects like the Fon - Skype WiFi phone that let you talk for free to other skype contacts anywhere where a wireless connection is available. I recently experienced this. A friend bought an EeePC and flew to a city in the other side of the world. She called me from that city using Skype from different locations. The computer found available wireless networks while walking around. When she called me I could hear and see what was around, thanks to the webcam. It was a surprising experience. No contract, no dialing numbers, not limited to a few characters, better quality than mobile or land line phones. It felt like live tv transmission. Of course I’ve used webcams before, but when you can see good quality video from the street it’s something else. Some would argue that’s stealing someone’s connection. But they are free to put a password for it. I know people who leave it open on purpose. Sharing connections is the base for projects like Fon or Freifunk. Of course cellular providers will fight that you are able to send messages and call from out there without paying their fees. But I think that when fat connections are available anywhere, these companies will have to change or disappear. I don’t understand why aren’t they smarter and see the possibilities and try to innovate offering something new before other’s do. Instead, they try to hold strongly on to what they have now. I guess they just try to get the biggest number of clients, and to get the most money out of these clients, without considering so much which product would make the most sense to the customers. I’ve seen this myself where I’ve worked before. In these days you can have a flat data plan on your phone, and push-email. That means that if you receive an email, you are immediately notified. So your friends can send you ‘sms’ (actually an e-mail, not limited to 160 characters) for free. If both you and your friends have such data plans and cell phones, you wouldn’t need to send sms anymore, saving some money. Normally cellular providers forbid using Voip in this situation. But just because they want to charge more for the same service. It would not cost them more to allow it, but people would stop calling using their networks. That’s how I think it should be in the future. Flat rate data transfer anywhere.