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Worst of the Week: Summiting Mt. Cellphone

And welcome to our Thursday 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 RCR Wireless News to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!
And without further ado:
So some dude is planning to climb Mt. Everest and make a cellphone call from the summit. According to various media reports, Motorola is sponsoring a British climber named Rod Baber, who plans to summit in late May and make a call from the summit. He also plans to send a text message from the summit.
According to the BBC, there’s a base station in China that covers the north side of the mountain, so Mr. Baber (who is not related to Babar the Elephant, as far as I can tell) will have coverage at 29,000 feet. It’s not clear exactly which Motorola phone Mr. Baber will to make his summit call, but I’m hoping it’s one of those huge Moto brick phones. Those things are awesome. They also weigh like 20 pounds.
I’m very excited to find out exactly what Mr. Baber plans to say during his call. If he’s anything like me, he’ll be calling the bank to see if his mortgage check cleared.
I’m also very excited to find out exactly what Mr. Baber plans to text from the summit. I’m betting the message will look something like this: “as aasdff fae a df ae ea d.” (Because it’s really hard to compose a text message while wearing those huge mountaineering gloves.)
But what’s the point of all this? The point is that Motorola sponsoring a cellphone call from the summit of Mt. Everest is dumb. Why? Because there are places in the world where we don’t need cell coverage, and never will.
For example, we don’t need cell coverage in bathrooms. The reason we don’t need coverage in bathrooms is because you should not be on the phone in the bathroom. Because it’s gross. That we currently do have coverage in bathrooms is an unfortunate side effect of generally excellent in-building coverage.
And if you have ever had a bathroom conversation, please slap yourself now because I’m too embarrassed and disgusted to do it for you.
We also don’t need coverage in national parks or wilderness areas. I understand that the Forest Service and the National Parks Service want to meet the needs of visitors, but there’s simply no place for cellphones in the backcountry. (Unless you’re using your phone as an alarm clock. Or a flashlight. Or a camera. Or as fishing bait.)
Indeed, the backcountry is where I go to escape the drudgery of work and family, and if I were stuck somewhere in the backcountry with cell coverage, my wife would unquestionably call me every 15 minutes to add to my “honeydo” list. (The essence of my “honeydo” list is thus: Don’t be such a crappy husband and father.)
In fact, there are plenty of places that should be off-limits to cellphoners: airplanes, churches, locker rooms, classrooms, movie theaters and-especially-Houston, for reasons my editor will not permit me to explain.
So here’s hoping Mr. Baber summits Everest and, in a 21st Century social statement, refuses to use his Moto phone. It would be like Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1968 Olympics, except not heroic or poignant.
And if that happened, maybe I could finally convince Motorola to sponsor my comic book collection.
OK! Enough of that. Thanks for checking out this Worst of the Week column. And now, some extras:
–Several months ago, in “Worst of the Week: Please Change the Channel,” I bemoaned the state of the mobile TV industry as being “pretty much crap.” That was before Verizon Wireless’ Vcast Mobile TV service. Verizon Wireless graciously loaned RCR Wireless News several of their MediaFLO phones, and after wrestling one of them away from my arch-nemesis Dan Meyer I finally got a chance to play around with it. I’ve gotta say: Vcast Mobile TV is pretty much awesome. It’s so good, my wife and I routinely get into fights over who gets to watch it. (We don’t have cable, so the only way we get to watch MTV is through Vcast Mobile TV. MTV is the bomb diggity.) Kudos to Verizon Wireless, Qualcomm Inc. and all the other folks who put together an excellent mobile TV service.
–A number of companies put out some good April Fool’s Day material Sunday. My personal favorite was Google’s “Toilet Internet Service Provider” gag, which really isn’t as wacky as some of the stuff I’ve run across in the wireless industry.
–Nokia Siemens Networks recently issued a press release about its new deal with “Blyk,” which is described as a “pan-European free mobile operator for young people.” I really hope the word “Blyk” means something cool in Italian or Spanish or whatever language they speak in Europe, because in English it just sounds like a bodily function.
I welcome your comments. Please send me an e-mail at [email protected]


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