Mobile Internet Opening Up

Twelve months or so after my griping at the cost mobile network providers charged for Internet access, it seems the market (in the UK) is finally seeing some movement.

I have noticed recently both Three and T-Mobile have launched - and are pushing - fixed-cost 'net access, all free from sky-high cost. Whilst I was aware of T-Mobile's web'n'walk offering some time ago, Three's new X-Series seems to be worthy of more attention.

It appears they have realised that traditional mobile voice-calls are likely to become less relevant as people take to VOIP. Instead of trying to block this content, and thus protect their traditional revenue, Three are actively promoting free calls via Skype and IM through Windows Live Messenger. This is a bold, but ultimately inevitable step. By embracing VOIP technologies at this early stage, Three should capitalise on other networks' short-sightedness in preventing VOIP connections through their networks.

Notably, T-Mobile also appear to allow VOIP / IM communications on their Web'n'Walk MAX plans. Whilst the lower-cost standard and Plus plans explicitly prohibit internet phone calls and instant messaging in their Ts&Cs, there is no mention of a restriction on the MAX plan conditions.

Whether that is a correct interpretation or not, it is good to see operators acknowledge that mobiles are increasingly another conduit to the wider Internet, and moves such as this should help to invigorate the development of mobile software which, in my experience, has hitherto been stunted by over-charging and network walls. Perhaps now we will start to see a wider emergence of 'mobile2.0' applications.

It will, though, be a little longer for me as I have a few more months tied into a service contract where data is still charged at £3 per MB.