Hello! And welcome to our Friday column, Worst of the Week. There’s a lot of nutty stuff that goes on in this industry, so this column is a chance for us at RCRWireless.com to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!
And without further ado:
Well, it looks like the Federal Communications Commission took its role as arbiter of the house seriously and handed down a decision loved by some and hated by others.
That’s how you know it’s good.
Where you came down on the love/hate debate all seemed to depend on the size of your dog in the fight. If you had more than 80 million wireless subscribers, somehow you were able to generate hate for something that will have virtually no impact on what you are doing. I mean really, you have one out of every three wireless customers in the country and somehow you are angry?!?
And for those with less than 80 million customers, this was good news. And when you are a wireless carrier with less than 80 million customers, for some reason you look for good news wherever you can get it.
I know some say that the right decision in an instance where two parties have divergent interests is a decision that leaves neither side fully satisfied, but I am not buying that. This is the real world people, and if someone does not leave the bargaining table in a huff, then where is the fun of that.
Regardless of the huff that was generated from this decision, I guess my question is was all this really necessary? Did we really need the federal government to come in and “require” carriers to play nice with each other?
I mean just because I have the time and resources to pamper my lawn to a luscious level not seen outside of sports stadiums (which I don’t and it’s not) should not mean that I am required to allow my neighbor to let his dogs run all over that yard (which he does and I can’t figure out why) as long as he pays me a “commercially reasonable” amount.
Well, maybe, maybe not. There has been some recent history of carriers coming to an agreement on roaming issues. Just this week Sprint Nextel, which used to be considered a “big” carrier, managed to play nice with SouthernLINC and agree to a nationwide data and push-to-talk roaming deal for iDEN services. That’s right, data roaming for a service that Sprint Nextel is only really looking to support for a few more year. And that deal only took a decade to hammer out. Well done.
And, for the larger carriers to claim that this was not necessary is also disingenuous. Just look at the fact that T-Mobile USA still does not have a data roaming agreement with AT&T Mobility. Of course, AT&T Mobility has found a unique way to settle this matter by offering to pay $39 billion for T-Mobile USA. This sort of tells you that maybe it’s really easier to buy someone than it is to hammer out a roaming agreement. Who knew.
Of course, not all is hunky-dory in this decision as the FCC has only mandated that wireless operators must reach a “commercially reasonable” agreement for data roaming, a term that would seem to leave plenty of room for lawyers to drive a race car through.
My guess is that this whole issue is far from over. However, until then:
OK, enough of that.
Thanks for checking out this week’s Worst of the Week column. And now for some extras courtesy of our RCRBlog at uplugged.rcrwireless.com:
–(Tracy Ford) Sen. Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) proposed legislation to force wireless operators to tell customers when they are nearing their allotment of minutes, data and text usage leaves me with a lot of questions. Would the legislation hurt smaller operators more than their larger competitors? Should the FCC mandate a service that could prove to be a competitive advantage? In the outrageous overage charges the senator cites in his press release, did the carrier in question waive those overage charges or was some type of agreement reached with the operator?
Mind you, I wouldn’t mind alerts on a number of bills that come into my household, in particular a credit card that my husband and I share. (Alert: “Tracy, do you realize hubby just racked up $600 at boat store?” I could use that.) It certainly would be helpful to people with limited data usage plans since no one has found a great way to explain data charges. Nevertheless, I can look at my phone bill (and my credit card bill for that matter) online to see who is spending what. Apple Inc.’s iTunes store thanks me regularly for my purchases. I think these services are better offered as part of a customer relationship between the operator and the end user, much like credit-card companies call when they suspect suspicious activity on an account.
Regardless, I don’t think the legislation would have much of an impact on the nation’s three largest carriers – certainly their CRM solutions are sophisticated enough to add an alert without too much expense or effort. But I do worry that the nation’s smaller operators might have a more difficult time complying. Rural operators already are at a disadvantage because they don’t have the marketing prowess or device selection of the nationwide operators. Now is not the time to put another mandate upon them – or exempt them from a mandate that also leaves them at a competitive disadvantage.
The European Union has implemented such a measure, but the EU implements a lot of rules that frankly make all operators seem the same. In the United States, where AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless begin to look the same, we need more differentiation to keep the market competitive, not more mandates.
–(Sylvie Barak) It’s not often we at RCR Unplugged can honestly claim to be impressed by a press release. We get scores of them every day, and find ourselves having to weed our way through the murky marketing speak, weeding out words like “revolutionary,” “bleeding edge,” “symbiotic,” and the dreaded, meaningless “solution.”
That’s why it was so refreshing to get the following press release from Opera this morning, quoted in its entirety:
“Opera reaches 100 million Opera Mini users
Oslo, Norway — April 7, 2011
“Sweeeet!” said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software.
Short, “sweeeet” and to the point, it tells you everything you need to know.
Opera, I can honestly tell you, you’ve just become my new favorite company. Please keep those kinds of press releases coming!