Ronny Lam

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Dutch Mobile Operator Rant (Part 1)

This is the first part of multiple posts about mobile operators in the Netherlands. Now that traffic is shifting from voice to data, operators are trying not to lose any money. In doing so they are bending the rules of net neutrality and lying in bed with Apple. Operators are creating unacceptable contracts that in my opinion are bending the law even further.

A little background: I have been working in IT for 20 years now and have in that time seen the mobile phone getting from non-existent at all to the everybody has a smartphone society we are living in right now. It is from the start of the GSM networks and the pocketable mobile phones that I have been using my mobile phone as a modem. Until recently that was with the use of dial-up and I had to pay for every minute that I was online. With the introduction of GPRS came the time that mobile operators were providing network services themselves. Some say it was the iPhone that started the mobile web as we know it today. With the first introduction of the mobile web operators offered flat-fee unlimited access but after a few years they realized that it was impossible to keep it unlimited. In fact, by using fair- use policies contracts were already capped to a maximum. That’t why nowadays operators are charging customers by the megabyte which sounds fair enough.

It is during the time contracts were unlimited and under a fair-use policy that operators were starting to forbid the use of a mobile phone as a modem to a laptop. Because they were afraid that users would use too much bandwidth using a computer. I have always used my mobile phones as a modem so they couldn’t stop me until they made a deal with Apple. The closed Operating System of the iPhone made it possible to deny the use of an iPhone as a modem without paying extra money for it. This is of course ridiculous especially since nowadays customers are paying by the megabyte again. But no, operators won’t change their contracts back, because now they can sell you two products instead of one. And it is even worse. Operators are saying they are losing money, because people are not using SMS anymore, a service that was way too overpriced already. Now that people are using instant messaging applications like What’s App and VoIP operators are even blocking that and asking extra money to open up that access.

In my opinion mobile operators in the Netherlands are thieves. They are blocking internet access and content and are asking extra money for transparent access to the internet. But the problem is: people are already paying by the megabyte because unlimited access has proven to be a failure. In my next episodes I will go into detail of how operators are communicating this to their customers and how to work around this problem.

What is your experience and how did you solve this?