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EDITOR’S BLOG 14-01-16 Britain: a second rate mobile country?

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Hello and Happy Thursday and Happy New Year! We come back to find that carrier billing and Microsoft are very much top of the agenda. While the tail end of 2015 in the UK at least was marred by many issues that all but killed off confidence in the carrier billing boom we all hoped to see, the US and Indonesia have separately embraced carrier billing for the purchase of all Windows 10 products.

The hot news is that Bango has expanded its agreement and integration with Microsoft to deliver carrier-billed payments across Windows 10 devices. As a result, charging payments to the user’s phone bills will become available to Windows Store customers.

This is great for carrier billing and should be clearly noted by the powers that be in UK MNOs that there really is a strong market for this.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, 3 PT Hutchison 3 Indonesia (H3I), the second largest mobile broadband traffic operators in Indonesia, are to enable subscribers to pay for any Windows apps purchases via Direct Carrier Billing for games and apps.

It may not hit the operators here very hard – Indonesia is far, far away from Slough, Reading and all those sorts of places, after all – but its hugely populace and is one of those markets that is up and coming and ripe for carrier billing for these sorts of modern day purchases.

So where does that leave the UK? Well, there is a danger that we become an also ran in the mobile game. Sure, we are early adopters, but the infrastructure, services and attitudes simply don’t keep up.

We have all but nixed carrier billing. Network service levels are, from my personal experience, appalling: I haven’t made or received a call on my mobile in a year that hasn’t cut off, been dropped or is so appallingly low quality that I have to give up.

Sure I have 4G, but even that’s too slow.

This isn’t anything to do with telemedia, per se, but it does highlight the glaring divide between the networks view of themselves and what consumers think of them. They may well be worried about ‘brand damage’ from rogue carrier billing services and they may not want to shoulder the cost of complaints about charge to mobile, but to be fair their appallingly bad service and the inability to effectively complain about it is doing them way more brand damage, in my humble opinion.

As too will the ability to pay for software for your phone or computer in Indonesia and soon everywhere else. When I was in Singapore recently I was charged through the nose for text messages home… none of which arrived until after I returned. I would have been better off getting a domestic Singaporean phone to do it. Or an Indonesian one.

And this is the nub of the issue, we are going to be a second rate mobile country unless all these things – network quality, charges, carrier billing and so on – aren’t all addressed. There seems to be no will to change. The networks are a cartel and so nothing ever changes. We really need a new entrant to shake things up. I love mobile, its such a great liberating technology, but its being squandered. That’s the real brand damage.

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