Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wireless in Canada

Canada is a country that is so large, but not so populous that its geographically dispersed population has often been quick on the uptake of connecting technologies: broadband internet, wireless phones and devices.

However, when it comes to mobile phones, Canada is not in the forefront, and I blame that firmly on the Carriers: Bell, Telus, Rogers/Fido, etc.

I read about interesting mobile applications daily. Things like GMail and Google Maps on mobile, like Radar or (forgive me) even Twitter. And yet, these don't impact my life, or the life of my friends. Why? Because the Canadian mobile market is all locked up, and those who have the keys are just looking for the leverage to make a little more money.

When infrastructure is new, or difficult to acquire, people seek to control it. Electricity, internet access. These slowly, sometimes very slowly, become commodities, even subsidized, and the community, both business and personal, often benefits from it. While electricity helped to turn on the lights and automate laborious tasks, cheap electricity brought us radio, the telephone, television and the internet. Yes, I admit, it also brought us wall-mounted singing fish and the home shopping channel, but nothing comes without its price.

Similarly, you don't build more bandwidth into the network because people need it for the applications they already have, you build it because they don't even know what they can do with it until they have it: videoconferencing, iptv, voip -- these are technologies that become possible when bandwidth becomes cheap.

This is why I wish that the wireless providers could get it through their dense heads that giving us increased, unfettered access to wireless data and the applications that require that data only makes us their dependent customers. That the idea of paying $100/mo for 250MB of data, 200MB of Data while limiting access to applications and charging monthly fees for access to your phone's GPS capabilities is hurting them as much as it's hurting us.

Get over it. Free us from your mindless restrictions and help us help you make wireless applications and data a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. We'll keep paying you for this stuff, just stop getting in the way.

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