Wireless Carriers Offer Scant Hope to Users

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-11-04 Print this article Print

5. Data Prices Are Outrageous

With the growth of netbooks making waves across the industry, being able to connect to the Web from anywhere is becoming increasingly important. But high-speed-networking costs are out of sight. If users want to be able to access the Web no matter where they are, they will need to pay dearly for that service. And all the carriers are to blame.

6. Little Competition

Although AT&T and Verizon Wireless are battling it out with each other right now, it's rather disappointing that they still seem to have little desire to compete on price. A quick glance at carrier calling plans shows that whether someone is considering Verizon Wireless, AT&T or Sprint, they will likely pay the same price for access to the network. Only T-Mobile seems intent on being a price leader.

7. The Rest of the World Is Ahead

In the United States, wireless carriers are lagging far behind many countries around the world. Several countries have full coverage, providing customers access to the cell network no matter where they are. In the United States, carriers are still trying to bring service to rural areas and other dead spots in and around more trafficked locations. That's unacceptable.

8. Users Suffer

Most wireless carriers are deeply concerned with services that enhance the usability of a mobile phone. For example, any voice over IP (VOIP) apps that use AT&T's 3G network have failed to gain entry to Apple's App Store. AT&T, like other carriers, is concerned that if VOIP apps make their way to mobile phones and access a connection over its 3G network, users will rely on them, rather than their minutes plan to place calls. Granted, carriers need to protect their business. But unfortunately, it has been to the detriment of its users. The same can be said for the way carriers have handled tethering. Users need to jump through hoops just to connect to the Web. It's a real shame.

9. Enterprises Aren't Any Better Off

Although consumers typically gripe the most when it comes to wireless carriers, the enterprise isn't faring much better. Like consumers, companies have a hard time getting out of plans. They also suffer from poor coverage and expensive data plans. Simply put, everyone is being affected by carriers.

10. The Future Isn't Very Bright

As we look ahead at what to expect from carriers over the next few years, it doesn't seem like much will change. Rollouts of better data networks are moving slowly. Coverage, while improving, is still a major question mark. And if history is any guide, the plans that have made the carriers so profitable probably won't change much going forward. It's sad. And it's disappointing.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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