How data-roaming charges poison the cloud

Summary:There are two big trends in IT today: mobility and the cloud.Even if you discount the hype and coolly examine how the way you work is changing, these factors are huge.

There are two big trends in IT today: mobility and the cloud.

Even if you discount the hype and coolly examine how the way you work is changing, these factors are huge. They're complementary and almost mutually dependent: one of the big advantages of the cloud is that it delivers your data and services wherever you are, so encourages mobility - and mobility can't work well, if at all, if you can't connect when and where you need to.

That potent symbiosis has led to breathtaking growth in online services and the wherewithal to connect. It's almost as if the IT revolutions of the 20th century in computing and communication, exciting though they've been to live through, were mere precursors to the big one. Data everywhere, processing everywhere, limits nowhere.

Break that, and you're breaking the future. And that's what the mobile operators are doing, by slapping a big "DO NOT USE" sign on the cloud just as soon as you cross a border. The power of technology is only any good if we can use it. If we can't afford it, it might as well not be there.

You can read elsewhere of the magnitude of the sin — but the facts are simple. Data roaming costs the networks next to nothing to support, but is priced so extravagantly that companies ban employees from using data abroad.

At a stroke, the cloud stops working — or companies have to spend many times the cost of the services they use in a straightforward extortionate tax to the mobile network companies, which have done nothing to earn it. Nobody likes having their future held hostage, least of all by companies that go on about how much they love us all, but mobility and cloud is being hobbled, just when and where we need it most.

This is just one way that data roaming charges poison the entire industry. Whether you develop apps or services, sell handsets or laptops, or run a corporate IT environment which looks to mobility and cloud as the future, you're being priced out of the game - and there's nothing you can do about it.

Unless, of course, we can make the network operators act like civilised members of 21st century society instead of medieval overlords exercising divine right at the end of a sword. They do love their 80,000 percent margins, so it is going to be a bit of a slog — but if you think we deserve better, you know what to do.

Topics: Innovation


Rupert has worked at ZDNet UK, IT Week, PC Magazine, Computer Life, Mac User, Alfa Systems, Amstrad, Sinclair, Micronet 800, Marconi Space and Defence Systems, and a dodgy TV repair shop in the back streets of Plymouth. He can still swap out a gassy PL509 with the best of 'em. If you want to promote your company or product, fine -- but pl... Full Bio

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