Rant: Carriers want handset manufacturers and others to pay for network expansion

In a move that surprises even me, some European telecom companies are looking to the Apples, Googles, and Facebooks of the world to help carry the burden of system wide upgrades to the mobile network that they’ve been solely responsible for up until now. It wouldn’t be a super-terrible idea if everyone was on good terms, but the telecos just spent the last two decades strong-arming every handset company known to man into a giant self-serving mess.

Just so I’m clear, the breaking news is that companies like France Telecom, who collect money from the public for access to the network, think that companies making handsets should start footing some of the upgrade bill. Funny joke, right?

It’s no joke. Bloomberg is reporting that France Telecom SA, Telecom Italia SpA, and Vodafone Group Plc are pitching the idea today, and addressing the issue at the “Le Web” conference.

So they want others to pay so they can profit?

Governments have given these companies all kinds of breaks in conjunction with the promise of building bigger and better networks, but they never seem to do much about maintaining their end of the bargain. Carriers continuously raise prices, enslave their customers, and play the woe-is-me card more than any other group of companies on the market. Their customers know it, but nothing ever seems to get done about it. Now they want to pass the responsibility for the years of mismanagement to companies who do not get any share of the revenue generated from the mobile networks.

What if the Googles and Apples willingly chipped in to help build networks if mobile carriers and telecom companies would be willing to sign over a portion of their revenue to all the companies involved with the program? Carriers are essentially asking for a partnership with handset makers, but what are the carriers willing to give up to get it? The carriers built this business, and they’re now the architects of their own demise, and they expect others to help them out. It’s as if they’re hoping their vast work of good-will around the world will encourage the public to support them. Would you lineup behind a carrier to show solidarity for a program like the one they’re presenting at Le Web? I didn’t think so.

With all the money in the war-chests around Google, Apple, and Microsoft, I wouldn’t mind seeing them all team up and create their own mobile network. It wouldn’t solve the problems over night, but it would certainly start eroding the power of the carriers down the road. Please, shut these guys down before the whole system implodes. These CEOs running the show both at home and abroad clearly have no idea what they’re doing, and now they’re hoping for the equivalent of a bailout package from Silicon Valley.

Hopefully someone reminds these carrier CEOs that without Apple, Google, RIM, and Microsoft there isn’t much of a future for mobile devices, and that there won’t be much need for their out of date network if they stop making phones altogether. The handset manufactures have pretty much given carriers the right to print money, and still, somehow, they can’t figure out how to bring legitimate fibre to the curb and guarantee reception for our devices. My last cellphone bill exceeded 150 dollars, for one phone. They are not hard up for cash, but they sure like to pretend they are. It’s hard to view this as anything but a power-play move to increase revenue while decreasing expenditures.

Hopefully these CEOs are as smart as some of the CEOs on Wall St. and have golden parachutes.

Are Smartphones really all that vital to our lives?

What’s a smartphone worth to you? I’m starting to think an iPod touch could replace my iPhone quite easily, and the more I start to think about these things, the more I realize that cellphones provide a false sense of necessity in most lives. The luxury of being able to get your email while mobile remains just that, a luxury. The more bills continue to increase, the more some of us might take a moment and re-evaulate our needs. Right now, I don’t need a smartphone. It’s not a necessity. Sure, it might be the future, but until mobile carriers catch up with our futuristic-expectations, why do most of us even concern ourselves with these smartphones?

Maybe it’s time to rethink the paradigm entirely, and maybe it’s time everyone in the cellular and mobile industry is honest with themselves. Cellphones, and by extension Smartphones, remain a luxury, and paying a premium for a luxury is still a little bit difficult to swallow for a lot of people. This industry has been built on early adopters and the “cool” factor, but frankly, I can’t remember the last time I launched an iPhone app that didn’t consist of the Dialer, iPod, or Calendar, and I have a vested interest in this.

Personally I blame Zach Morris for this whole problem. Somehow he convinced an entire generation that we would be a lot cooler if we could order pizza from the classroom. But now I feel mislead. I didn’t realize that the price of ordering that pizza would be the equivalent of a grocery bill for two people, a life sentence with the carriers, and decreased morale every time I had a question about my bill.

Now that I really think about it, I don’t think I’ll be replacing this iPhone 3G any time soon. I’ll continue using it until it dies, and then I’ll explore alternative options.

What about you? Do you think this is all starting to be a little bit too much to stomach? Let us know in the comments.

Article Via Bloomberg

Joshua is the Content Marketing Manager at BuySellAds. He’s also the founder of Macgasm.net. And since all that doesn’t quite give him enough content to wrangle, he’s also a technology journalist in his spare time, with bylines at PCWorld, Macworld… Full Bio