Dear mobile operators, stop treating us like morons

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South Africans are well accustomed to being treated like morons by the ANC but there’s no reason we should take that from the private sector too.

international_airtime_transfer_clip_image002In taking SA mobile operators to task I could be talking about their rapacious data prices or mind-bending bundle configurations designed to confuse us into signing over large chunks of cash monthly. But I’m not. Not this time.

No. I’m talking about the bullshit around different types of airtime.

Sign up with any one of the four mobile operators in this country for a top-up contract and you’ll soon learn what I’m talking about. The bundled airtime, for which you pay a monthly ransom, is “not-transferable” and “non-convertible”.

In other words, you have no ability to share airtime with others or use that airtime to buy SMS or data bundles. Oh no, if you want to do that you have buy more “prepaid” airtime.

Fuck off. That’s just theft. Airtime is fucking airtime. It doesn’t matter how or when we pay for it; It’s bloody airtime and it’s paid for. It should be as transferable or convertible as the money what purchased it.

It’s long past time that somebody took the mobile operators to task on this and many other questionable practices they have evolved over the years.

Unfortunately, there is nobody to do that. Icasa is a hopeless case because, whenever a bright young thing starts to make a mark there, one of the thieving foursome makes them an offer too good to refuse. In this way, they collude to keep the regulator weak and ineffectual.

All of which leaves us consumers with nowhere to turn. We end up venting on soapboxes and in irrelevant forums like this one. We desperately need another Isabel Jones.

It’s not patently obvious

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If you want to know what the current patent battle is about the answer is simple: money. The bottom line is that Apple and Microsoft’s litigation against Google are nothing more that attempts to undermine the Android mobile operating system, which, for those who don’t know, the search giant gives away free, gratis and for nothing to mobile phone manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola. This is unacceptable behaviour in Cupertino and Redmond, where serious cash is generated by “selling” operating systems – but I digress.

The bottom line is that I applaud Google’s acquisition of Motorola’s mobile phone business because has potential to defuse the ridiculous patent litigation from Apple and extortionate license fees demanded by Microsoft. You see, Motorola has been around a lot longer than either of those two and has a portfolio of over 17 000 patents. That gives Google the option to threaten litigation of its own and, thereby, keep Android free-of-charge and unburdened by unreasonable licensing.

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