Of the various thoughts and stories that I’ve had in mind from this past weekend’s trip, one that’s come back up to my eyes because (again) of the situation happening with web and phone access in Egypt, has been this idea of mobile devices that could survive, even if only for a small time, without the need of a carrier network.
The Situation Observed
My friend and I traveled to western VA. I had my Nokia N95 and iPad, he had a Toshiba laptop and his HTC Tilt. My network was AT&T and his T-Mobile. Once we got around Martinsville, the differences in our cellular approach became painfully (to him) known.
Only when we were near Bristol (VA) did he have cellular coverage. And even then, it was only for a few minutes. Once we left the city limits, he was again “in the dark.” On the other hand, with the exception of a few valleys/gaps, I was in a pretty solid 3G environment. It was so useful that I found little reason to use JoikuSpot Light to be a hotspot for my iPad, yet remained connected as needed.
What If Mobile’s Could Share Connections
What if my friend could share my mobile connection? Essentially, what if his device could piggy-back on my device and be able to take calls, texts, and Internet? What if the fact that I had a signal, and AT&T could earn some kind of additional revenue from this “shared” connection, would allow my phone to essentially share some aspect of my connection with him so that he’d not be in the dark.
The techies reading would have seen that I said earlier that I used JoikuSpot Light, and that he had the kind of device that should have been able to be easily provisioned to use a Wi-Fi hotspot to make my shared data connection essentially his way to tunnel back to his carrier and stay connected. But, this wasn’t the case because of device and training/time limitations on making a VoIP solution like that happen.
Now, T-Mobile did have a UMA solution for some of its devices, but it was so restricted. What could that look like if they could do UMA (and therefore the carrier could track that anywhere since VoIP would be a function that sits on a VPN-like connection) from any kind of Wi-Fi hotspot?
But, it is possible, and a solution right? Why wouldn’t use like that be better advertised amongst the tech-elite, and then help lead to a mobile device, or series of mobile devices that can exist for a time away from the carrier, but still able to be connected?
Interdependency, not Dependency
As we see in the situation in Egypt, a governmental (or environmental) action could easily wipe out the ability for people to communicate with one another. And while the primary reason for cutting off communication can be political or natural, the need to stay connected is one of the reasons while mobile has grown so far and so fast.
Now, there are solutions being bantered about such as these talked about at RWW, and this is good. But really, what needs to happen is that along with mobiles becoming more intelligent towards using network assets, they should also be programmed (taught) to not need to rely on them so much.
I don’t think we could (even if we wanted to) get away from carrier-controlled mobile networks, at least not with current expectations, policies and technologies. I do think that the situation with my friend this past weekend did illustrate why it is needed that mobiles become smarter in how they use network assets, and even such towards how they can manage each other, while not being a strain on the networks they are using.
Dreaming Of A Day
I keep dreaming of a day where I can purchase a single SIM card (or account), and then purchase a data plan from one carrier, voice plan from another, and SMS from another. And be opted into a system where I could be notified where the better rates are at a given time and move freely between them. Such a system would also allow me to “sell” unused assets to other people using the same carrier, with the carrier taking some percentage of that transaction since that would essentially amount to some kind of lost subscriber for them.
Because everything is going data, I don’t think that would happen. Hence, this thought that somehow, I could be able to use what I have and share it with another. Its not like anyone loses with this but me (battery life). And the changes towards our behavior with mobiles could also light a fire under better and more efficient devices and types of use.