The Impending Doom of the Telecoms

Slashdot just reported on an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) report that (unsurprisingly) shows that US mobile phone plans are the most expensive in the world.

Cell phone companies (like cable/satellite TV providers) have long taken advantage of their customers by forcing them to pay for things that they don’t need (like refusing to offer a la carte channel selection, or bundling everything and structuring pricing so that one must go with a higher priced bundle in order to get enough time/channels).

Data is data, and data wants to be free.  We’re in a new era when consumers only need are devices that can connect to any wireless data network and we can do anything (email, surf the web, make phone calls with Google Voice).   The opportunities to corral consumers into profitable behaviors are evaporating every single day.

The telecoms/cable/satellite companies should be prepared right now for their impending doom, because as soon as there’s an alternative (which WILL happen soon) customers will leave them in droves.  How can we tell the end is nigh?  It’s pretty easy actually;

  • “Protectionism is not a strategy for the future” [as Jeff Jarvis says]: Companies are already engaging in protectionism, which has taken the form of Apple blocking Google Voice (so that iPhone/iTouch owners can’t subvert AT&T’s ridiculous pricing schemes).
  • The “Bewildered Herd” Rules: Companies are attempting to undermine the democratic inclinations of the web by lobbying to eliminate Net Neutrality (the principle that all packets of data are treated equally on the web).  They have, thus far, been unsuccessful.
  • Information is Power: I just added a new application to my Firefox Browser called “Invisible Hand” that follows me around while I’m shopping online and scours the entirety of the web for the lowest prices on whatever I’m looking at buying.  How does any corporation think it can get away with price-gouging when consumers are plugged into a real-time Borg-like hive mind?

Unless they make some big strides to change their shoddy customer service and outlandish pricing schemes, I’m going to be pretty short on sympathy when it all goes down.

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