Two recent articles on Ars Technica, Small wireless carriers: always stuck with crappy phones? and No iPhone for Alaska? Rural cell phone group asks FCC to act, highlight the problems that are facing the spreading of powerful hand-held devices like the iPhone, Android handsets, and other Smartphones. Before I have talked about my excitement to see Smartphones capable of moving between carriers, like in Europe, and the power that would give the consumer. I have highlighted the openness that Google pushed for with the 700MHz bandwidth sale. The question comes down to whether we will actually see it happen or not.
The small wireless carriers are prohibited from getting the better devices because the mobile providers lock the manufacturer into contracts that prevent them from selling to everyone. Verizon and AT&T said that they would open their services so that customers would be able to bring the device they wanted to their network or move to another. However, we are still locked into contracts and carriers because of incompatible hardware and exclusivity contracts.
Despite the promises, we currently don’t see a change on the horizon.
In the other article the small or rural carriers ask the FCC to intervene and disrupt the exclusivity contracts. These issues affect all those that want to take their iPhone to Verizon or another carrier. This has a larger implementation that just the little guys that want to bring the latest bling to their networks.
The next change in hardware and services should, I hope, see the creation of a 700MHz chipset that will allow the owner of the hardware to migrate to the best provider for the area they live in. I believe, eventually, that the carriers will become like the internet providers today and who you have won’t matter as much as the quality of service and the device you have.
Who wouldn’t like to have the iPhone in Alaska or Vermont?