I predicted it long ago but finally it is becoming a reality. Curious as to what cell phone rates are these days, I visited my local mega-corp (Verizon) to check on the pricing. It seems that my antiquated plan at US$25/month can be upgraded for another plan at the same price that gives me more minutes, and makes all of them nationwide. So yeah, I did it, even though it meant renewing my contract for another year. I know I should have checked out the alternatives, but the lack of standardization in the American cellular phone market means that all my current equipment would have been useless.
What I see here is the move, not only to a world without wires, but without conventional borders. Think about it – I can be anywhere in the 50 United States, you can call me, and I’ll get it. Once this expands, as I know it is doing across Europe, we will have a dream – no more tapestry of conflicting services, no more multiple standards. Just one phone, taken with you everywhere you go, with your own personal number that you can keep for life, and communicators costs dropping to near nothing. Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology is doing this. PCS is doing this. Most of all, mega-mergers are doing this. ::sigh:: With every advancement comes a price. This time, we get a lack of options, bad support, and no real way to use market forces to vote. As we become increasingly reliant on a single phone number or IP address or whatever for all global communication, we will be reluctant to change services. I mean, think about it – who likes changing ISPs these days? you lose your e-mail account, and there is no real redirection option. Now think if ALL of your communications went to one point, and suddenly you switched companies – everything gone. Poof!
My solution? I’m not sure, but I think a mandated call-forwarding option, reasonably priced, should be required. Also, I’m hoping that alternative services for routing communications, similar to Hotmail, can be created in the VoIP space. And no, I’m not quite sure how this would work just yet.