A number of others have posted comment and reported on the European Commissions stance on Roaming tarrifs. As someone who pays his own phone bill I am happy to see a fair market created for roaming. I also hope that rather than hold back innovation as the Networks and the GSMA have claimed that such regulation will do we can see a positive attitude taken by the networks.
Just as Y2K gave CIOs the power to ask Boards to sign off investment budgets perhaps we will see the more enlightenend mobile networks take to opportunity to fix the underlying issue in roaming, namely poor billing systems. If Messers Akhavan, Badrinath and Geitner could show some leadership and convince their Executives to sign off on a total one off replacement of ALL billing systems with a single system perhaps we could see mobile fulfill its potential. With a new billing systems what we will see is a resolution of the wholesale system that at the moment sees calls made to two people holidaying in Spain go all the way back to the home country before connecting just so the payment can be settled.
Now in the early days when few had phones and not many of those travelled with them the current system was created. Now with most having phones, and none of us wanting to be seperated from them we have a system that is in needed of replacement. However because the Networks have a long investment list thanks to the roll out of 3G the ability to replace a billing system is limited. Think of it as someone who has moved into a new house and needs to replace the central heating system, this is something that costs alot to do, causes vast unrest in replacing pipes etc. and in turns oif return on the investment is a very long payback. However if you live in the cold North of Europe does need doing.
If we get a new billing system into every International Network we can expect to see a spurt of innovation as the launch of new products and services would be fast and effective. We could also expect better inter networking services. I remember talking to the VP of Marketing for one large Network who told me that all new product launches had to include the hiring of a speadsheet jockey whoes role it was to reconcile the billing data so that everyone got charged for what the used and suppliers got paid for what they provided. Hence a new billing system should mean that such problems are removed and so we can expect more products faster.
Not only should the boards accept the investment, they also have the perfect scapegoat in Ms Reding. They can say to Investment Analysts "sorry that we have not invested in CAPEX as predicted but the new EU regulation means that we have had to pause and replace our Billing systems."
So we have an easy sell for once on investing in the Billing System rather than buying more faster network equipment that stands un-used because people cannot be charged to do so. Somehow I guess that as this is too logical we will not see this happen. However such an investment works for all other than the billing system vendors who are making ransom demands to maintain and ammend the present legacy systems. Perhaps I should start seeing if I can meet with the three wise men above and sell them some consulting services for the benefit of all in the Mobile ecosystem.