Five telco tweaks for 2015

December 22nd, 2014 by · Leave a Comment

This article was authored by Stefan Hammond, and was originally posted on

As a cranky journalist, I have my vision of The Way The World Should Be. As a tech-geek, I have some understanding of personal data security policies. So hang on tight and grab your asbestos helmet while I blast some steam, because here’s five things.

Operators charging for iMessage SMSs

Apple has this idea that if you paid a bunch of money for your shiny-shiny phone, you get to send SMSs to other Apple-made phones at no charge via iMessage. It’s the least Cupertino can do to add value to iPhone ownership—currently bobbing the waves at 12.7% or so, buffeted by the winds of Android and buoyed by periodic releases of new handsets.

But some operators (I’m not gonna mention names) think that they should simply not-deliver iMessages to users who are on different networks, or on pre-paid SIMs, or based on the phase of the moon. We’re demoted to Text Message because the operator says so.

We understand that cellcos want to monetize anything to offset the onslaught of OTT. But do you want customers to use WhatsApp? Because that’s how you get customers to use WhatsApp.

Hotels charging guests for wi-fi access

Hotels want to maximize revenue, so small charges are tacked onto everything from booze in the mini-fridge to local phone calls (do you want guests to use their mobiles instead? Well, they already are). But when a media company books an event at your hotel, rather than your competitor’s hotel,please—for the love of all that works quietly and electronically, give the attending journalists free wi-fi.

Journalists don’t want mints on our pillows, fancy stationery, or in-house channels hyping the hotel and the wonderful tourist attractions of wherever we are. We’re working. We need to be in contact with the home office. Wifi please. Give us the bandwidth, and we just might book our next event there too.

Ridiculous roaming charges

This was a great idea for cellcos a few years back. Provide functionality for customers out of their area and charge a small fee. Well, often as not, charge an absurd fee (is it generally believed that AT&T Stateside is particularly usurious in this area?). The Hong Kong government even has a television public-service-announcement warning cellco customers against inflated roaming charges.

Here’s what happens: we buy pre-paid SIMs and plug them in as soon as the plane takes off. We will use our smartphones with full functionality and we’ll manage without your help. Traveling journalists nowadays have a credit-card-sized plastic case with multiple SIM cards in our wallets. The roaming genie isn’t going back in the bottle.

Or we’ll do that with our spare phone and keep our main number on—with, of course, roaming data turned off.

The Samsung dog-whistle

That four-tone whistle you hear so often bleating from purses and pockets, as though the phone’s owner secretly longs to be a lapdog to his or her electronic device. It’s the default ringtone, and when I hear it, I suspect an owners that doesn’t know how to change their default ringtone.

Hey, slick—you’re that clueless about the device with all your personal data? I know some Romanian code-jockeys who’d purely love to send you some nice fat phishing emails. They’ll make your dog-whistle phone sing “I’ve been pwned!” before you know what’s happening.

A friend-of-a-friend was recently sitting near me when his dog-whistle went off. I asked him if he liked that ringtone:

“I dunno how to change it!”

“Give me the handset. I’ll change it for you.”

“No…wait…actually I like it. I like it!”

I would only have shown him how to change the ringtone, but intelligently, he didn’t give me his phone. I like the guy, but seriously—consider changing from the dog-whistle. If nothing else, you won’t confuse your ringtone with all the other dog-whistlers.

People playing stuff on portable devices at full volume without earphones

Seriously, what is wrong with you people?!

I can and do carry a beat-up pair of earphones and offer them to such unfortunates. They typically give me a gormless look and shake their heads, oblivious to the tinny shriek of their soap opera or whatever is howling from their mobile device.

Er, because it’s disturbing others? Really such a difficult concept to grasp?

Wishing all Telecom Asia readers a happy holiday season and prosperous new year!

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