Monday, 21 September 2009

the great mobile rip-off

I never owned a mobile phone until I left Australia and lived in Japan (in the year 2000). On return home I found that the prices at home were quite extortionate, but thought I'd get one all the same as I'd become used to the ability to contact and be contacted.

To put some perspective on the costs, in Japan I was paying 10c a minute anywhere in Japan any time of day or night using the company AU (no guesses why I liked them at first sight ;-)

Today I read this article in the Australian where apparently:
THE mobile phone is eating a larger slice of the household budget than petrol this year

well bugger me ... seems like someone in the media has noticed.

A quick look around the world shows we're getting shafted on phone costs. How shafted? well I presently live in Finland, where my mobile call costs are 7c a minute. Yes that's right seven cents per minute. And its better than that, as there is no "call connection fee" and charging is by second.

What's more I don't get the cheapest calls possible because I'm not on a plan and I own my own phone, those are 2 cents a minute.

Now before anyone drags out the statistical mumbo on "how big Australia is" and "how we have to cover great distances with a small population" consider this:

Finland has 5 million people, and is hardly small. Wikipedia states that:

"The distance from the southernmost – Hanko – to the northernmost point in the country – Nuorgam – is 1,445 kilometres (898 miles) in driving distance, which would take approximately 18.5 hours to drive.

Population is quite well distributed around so coverage must be better than Australia (ever tried getting signal out of a major city in central NSW?

Given that the Australian population is concentrated along the strip of the East Coast with the greater bulk in the southern end of that its hard to make a case that Australia has a sparce population distribution. In reality the statistics of Australian population density are grossly distorted by the vast areas of emptiness.

Given the size of Australia, and that we have 4 times the populatoin is it really that much different to Finland when it comes to planning mobile coverage?

Actually I think its easier as we have more mountains and hilly areas to put towers onto and more cities with over 1 million populatoin (Finland has one we have three).

Now supposedly we have "competition" in Australia, but if you ask me its more like a bunch of big players all bidding the market up to how much the market will bear. So how much can the market bear and keep grinning?

I think we're on the edge ...

To make matters more filthy, when I was last in Australia (2007) it cost me almost the same to call Finland using my telstra prepaid as it did to call someone in the same town.


Yep, it was (and prehaps still is) 77c a minute to call Europe but is still 78c a minute (plus call connection fees ... yadda yadda) to call Brisbane from Brisbane.

So next time you feel like your wallet has been pack raped, what will you do?

keep paying?

Welcome to that Banana republic Paul Keating used to threaten us with...

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