Picture from politco.com
The carrier is more than just a service you pay for – it’s an essential part of your life. It controls who you talk to, how you share your media, what you can access, and best of all, you’ve built up an addiction to it. How can you not when you rely on it to send a childhood photo to a friend or whenever you want to upload a picture of your filtered food to Instagram? How can you call your mother when on the road to assure her of your good health? Every single packet of information that you send or receive while not connected to WiFi is channeled through your carrier’s airwaves. They’re all around you, engulfing absolutely everything, that is of course, unless you have Sprint which effectively covers nothing…
It is this very reliance that we’ve built up on the carrier’s networks that has succumbed us to our current state as consumers. We’ve allowed for loose regulations to be passed and for the huge telecommunications companies to lobby for everything they wish for. They tend to win, too. It’s hard to imagine, but we let ourselves be brought here with empty promises. Sure, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and even Sprint have drastically improved their networks in terms of speed and coverage, but the truth of the matter is that as our coverage has grown, our personal coverage has been decreasing behind our backs.
The massive split of Bell long ago was a sign of improvement in this industy. We were seeing competition boom and smaller companies had a chance to attract themselves to consumers. They had to do right to get customers. And best of all – it was actually working. Consumers were winning as carriers fought to provide the best and the most service. As network capabilities improved with such innovations as Edge and 3G, we saw the entrance of smartphones that were actually smart. To go along with these revolutionary devices, carriers started offering things such as unlimited data as a promotion to join them. Nearly everyone offered it, and boy did people love it.
Unfortunately, a few networks became far stronger than the others, such as Verizon and AT&T. As they gained more power, they were able to improve their network and data speeds, but there was a catch. At the announcement of 4G LTE Development (Fourth Generation Network – Essentially it provides for much quicker download and upload speeds), things went very, very wrong. AT&T had offered unlimited data with the iPhone at launch, and soon enough, this gave the company an excuse that would soon be adopted by the greater portion of the industry. Carriers now became the victim, complaining of completely hogged up networks and the price that they paid for our unlimited data – and these complaints were filled with lies. Though it was true that the network was hogging itself up due to the massive sales of the iPhone, they adopted a different business strategy.
As I previously mentioned, the carriers used to compete by improving the capacity of the networks. Suddenly it appeared as if that was no longer a valid option. Instead of adding more towers, AT&T, for example, abandoned that project to pursue 4G. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately it didn’t turn out so great.
The network improved in that data speeds rised, so in esence, this somewhat contradicts what I previously said about them not improving their network. Well, they improved the technical specifications, sure, but they decreased their level of competition and customer satisfaction, the very things that got them this far in the first place. Suddenly there were ridiculous limits on data, and with the faster speeds, people can power through them in just a few more days. Even better – unlimited data was no longer offered. Those who already had it could keep it, but you could no longer actually purchase it if you were a new customer.
This meant that people became forced to pay for higher plans which cost a lot more money, which is truly unfortunate. It now seems as if companies are battling to see who can piss off the consumer the most. Carriers are starting to push people off their grandfathered unlimited data plans too in a sneaky manner. For example: AT&T only offers Facetime over your data network so long as you’re not on the unlimited plan. They want you to pay more and switch over to the shared data plans which offer considerably less data. It’s truly a shame how low they have dipped.
It’s amazing that we’ve allowed company’s that are supposed to serve us well and are such an essential part of our lives become so evil. There’s no doubt that something needs to be done, just no one knows exactly what to do. We’ve got ourselves in a tricky situation, and the greedy monster could only get stronger.