Cards Stacked in Mobile Carriers Favor

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-01-25 Print this article Print


In many cases, enterprise users enter into multi-year deals that feature a slew of provisions, practically ensuring that regardless of how badly a company wants out of a contract, they probably won't follow through. That limitation on freedom only hurts the business world. But unfortunately, it likely won't change anytime soon.

5. They're all bad

Make no mistake, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and all the others are just as bad as any other carrier on the market. There just isn't an enlightened carrier that is truly looking out for the interests of the consumer. Inevitably, choosing a carrier comes down to phone choices and coverage in a particular area. That's a shame.

6. They resist change

Carriers are notorious for resisting change. When data became a requirement in the marketplace, carriers were slow to get their data networks up and running, worrying that it could have a negative impact on their business. When the iPhone hit store shelves exclusively on AT&T's network, carriers were concerned that it would drastically change the marketplace. And now that Google is offering the Nexus One unlocked, they're concerned that that business model could change how they do business. Carriers want to keep things the way they are. Let's be thankful that companies like Google and Apple are trying to change that. 

7. They capitalize on everything

As much as carriers resist change, they have a knack for capitalizing on that change when they can't turn a blind eye any longer. Rather than improve the availability of 3G, carriers are looking to charge more for access to data. It's sad, but in the mobile market, growing trends become revenue opportunities. All the while, it's the customer that suffers.

8. 3G availability is abysmal

Although more smartphones support 3G and netbooks are making it a key component in their value proposition, 3G availability is still abysmal in many places around the U.S. Aside from major cities, like New York or San Francisco, 3G is hard to find. Why should carriers be charging more for 3G when it's still so hard to come by? More importantly, why should customers even consider paying for a service that has a long way to go before it's worth its high price tag?

9. Where's the competition?

There might be several companies in the mobile space, but how much they really compete against each other is up for debate. Sprint has done a better job in the past year of offering unique services to consumers, but the other companies in the space are still toeing the line. Right now, AT&T and Verizon Wireless pricing on all their respective plans is exactly the same. Phone pricing is identical on multi-network devices. Competition means a company attempts to beat another by offering a unique value proposition. That's not happening in the mobile space.

10. Customer service is poor

Customer service leaves much to be desired in the mobile space. When Google's Nexus One smartphone was first offered, customers had some issues with the device. When they called their respective carrier, more often than not, they were told that it wasn't a carrier problem, but a phone problem. When they called HTC, the company that built the phone, they were told it was a carrier issue. Either way, carriers should be more willing to help out. Their past has been littered with notable customer-service issues that they've yet to address. When will they start?

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, 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

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