Thursday, February 02, 2006

The beginning of the end of the walled garden

Leave it to the Nordics to sort things out (well, sort of). Granted, Saunalahti has been recently acquired by Elisa, but still, an MVNO has been allowed to offer 3G services. MNOs to date have kept their 3G cards *very* close to their chests and left MVNOs in 2G land. They paid billions for licenses and networks based upon flawed business models so I can't really blame them for wanting to keep the outsiders out while they work out how to get out of the shithole they've dug for themselves. So what does this new development in Finland mean? Well, MVNO's have no vested interest in sweating 3G network assets like the MNOs do, which is why the walled garden approach to content is ubiquitous with every MNO. For the MVNO it's all about brand and service quality and building market share. MVNO's will abandon the walled garden entirely by providing open internet access and building commercial links to 3rd party content/service companies rather than try to do everything themselves, ala the MNO. I'm hoping that Saunalahti still operates as a separate entity capable of making its own commercial and technical decisions rather than being forced to repeat the Elisa party line. We shall see.

With 3G finally in their kits, MVNOs will be the ones who actually make the mobile internet indistinguishable from the fixed internet, which is what every customer and their dog wants. Just wait until Virgin gets its paws on 3G. There will be a bloodbath.

From Telegeography, 2 Feb 2006
Saunalahti launches 3G
Finnish MVNO Saunalahti has launched 3G services for mobile handsets and laptop datacards over the W-CDMA network of its parent Elisa Mobile. Saunalahti is offering mobile broadband at speeds of up to either 128kbps or 384kbps for a fixed monthly fee of EUR19.90 and EUR29.90 respectively, without limits on usage. Elisa’s W-CDMA network currently covers around 30 major towns and holiday resorts in Finland. Outside the 3G network, Saunalahti’s service utilises Elisa’s EDGE and GPRS networks; the EDGE infrastructure covers major urban areas as well as road and railway connections.

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