Hey, here's a surprise: GPRS services are hugely under-subscribed and showing no sign of returning a crumb on investment. One study published today says that the amount of revenue coming in from GPRS in Denmark wouldn't even cover the cost of the lunches eaten by the engineers who installed the stuff. Now, why could this be? Could it be that the prices were set so staggeringly high that nobody in their right mind dare use GPRS, in case one wrong click on a Web page resulted in all the money in their bank account being downloaded to the telephone company's coffers? Yep. The telephone companies response to this has been to deny it's a problem at all -- that's when they're not telling the handset manufacturers to remove the software that tells the user how much data they've used. But reality doesn't give a fig for the flights of fancy of a telco's marketing department, and users are more than capable of doing the sums and deciding for themselves whether the numbers add up. It's all a horrible reminder of the early days of broadband, when we couldn't decide why BT was being so cataclysmically inept at setting service levels and prices. Options considered included the idea that its networks were too shabby to cope with demand; the idea that BT's training was so poor it couldn't create enough engineers to maintain the service; the notion that BT was so scared of losing business elsewhere to broadband that it was deliberately dragging its feet; or just that gross incompetence was the order of the day. Whatever, it seemed that prices were set so high, and availability so low, that someone somewhere didn't want it to work. To some extent, most of the above suspicions adhere to the GPRS scene at the moment. Whatever the real reason, it's hard to have much sympathy for the companies as they weep into their balance sheets over the forthcoming fiasco that is 3G. If they can't get GPRS right, why should they manage something even more advanced?