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Dear Carriers, You Can’t Stop Evolution. Love, Google.

Discussion in 'Android News' started by This Green Machine, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. This Green Machine
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    This Green Machine DF News Team Premium Member

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    (This is a guest post by Michael Heller from ThisGreenMachine.com. The original article can be found at this link.)

    If your news feed looks anything like mine, over half the Android news items from earlier this week had to do with Skype being freed from Verizon exclusivity. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that Skype was freed from carrier control. Every story was quick to mention the caveat that in America, Skype will not be able to make calls over 3G. It’s a nice little reminder that American mobile carriers hold far too much power over our smartphone experience, and in their pursuit of profit, continue to stifle innovation. Android’s lead engineer Andy Rubin “believes he has created an accelerated form of evolution, where the species diversifies and improves at hyperspeed.” And, in most respects that holds true. Android has grown by leaps and bounds in all aspects save one: being a phone.

    With the explosion of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software and Internet enabled phones, we don’t need minutes or SMS anymore. Carriers are still making a big deal over offering unlimited SMS, even while a single SMS message is only about 1 kb. I used almost 2 gigabytes of data over the air last month (without any tethering), which was covered by my unlimited data plan, and carriers think they’re doing us a favor by offering unlimited SMS? We need data pipes and nothing more.

    Instead of giving us technology that makes our smartphone experience better, we get gimped hardware like the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab, [1] which will not have voice capability in the US, because carriers want to be able to sell you a tablet and a phone. We also get a gimped Skype, [2] which is restricted to calling only on WiFi. Carriers may claim that such usage will put too much stress on their networks, but in reality, they just don’t want people to realize that the current service model is already outdated. The carriers aren’t even hiding it too well either. AT&T has been selling their “MicroCell” for a long time as a way to “boost reception” in your home, but really it’s just a VoIP connection. Having offered UMA-based WiFi calling on previous handsets, T-Mobile recently announced support for Android [3]. Slowly, we are moving towards the day where you can buy a cell phone and just a data plan, but still get all the same service.

    Many people thought/hoped that Google would be the company to push us in that direction, but so far they haven’t done much more than test the waters and gather their arsenal. Rather than take on the mobile providers directly, Google has chosen to pick away from different angles. Google has all the tools to release a standalone, data-only, fully functioning phone. They have a great relationship with T-Mobile, the only company desperate enough to go along with this kind of plan. And, they have Google Voice.

    Google Voice (GV) is the biggest piece of the puzzle, and a brilliant piece of maneuvering by Google. GV both undercuts long distance and SMS charges, while being completely integrated into Android phones. But, GV is merely a passthrough, meaning it still uses minutes on your mobile plan for voice calls, and therefore does not upset carriers too much. Google has also built video chat into Gmail; and, by combining GV with their Gizmo5 acquisition[4], added calling to phones from any computer with a camera and/or microphone from within Gmail. Now, there are rumors that the upcoming Google TV will also have the ability to make video calls, [5] and I wouldn’t be surprised to see regular voice calls included as well.

    Google has an uphill battle if they intend to reinvent the cable or phone industry. But, if Google TV can also be another device used to make voice calls, it could go a long way to showing the public where we can go with our mobile service plans. The technology is already here to make phone calls from any device, at an inexpensive price. Moving forward, more and more devices will gain the ability to make free/cheap calls. Each new device in this space loosens the hold carriers have over voice plans, making a data-only mobile option more viable. It would be nice if carriers got out of the way, and let our gadgets evolve, but if they won’t, luckily, you can’t stop evolution.

    References: [1] Engadget [2] Wired [3] Android Central [4] Daily Finance [5] CrunchGear
  2. Darkseider
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    Darkseider New Member

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  3. Michael Heller
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    Michael Heller New Member

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  4. DanielC
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    DanielC New Member

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    I thought google voice made calls via 3g?
  5. Michael Heller
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    Michael Heller New Member

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    Google Voice is simply a passthrough. It makes calls, but still uses your cell minutes. Skype is a true VoIP solution that only uses your data network.
  6. diverbelow
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    diverbelow New Member

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    No, GV SMS uses data, at this time GV calls still use your minutes. I read online that a Google executive said that Google Voice will be voip enabled later this year.

    Now, I am hoping the voice calls through Gmail is totally different GV than on android phones.

    I am also hoping that Google does release their own gPhone since the FCC approved the use of the 700Mhz whitespace noise.
  7. czerdrill
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    czerdrill New Member

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    with the skype being unlocked over 3g, doesn't that still mean we need a voice plan from verizon if we want to do 3g calling?
  8. Michael Heller
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    Michael Heller New Member

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    It just means you would need a 3G data plan, because Skype doesn't use the voice network at all.
  9. czerdrill
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    czerdrill New Member

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    Right yes that's what I meant, not voice. A data plan from Verizon is still required for 3g calling though isn't it? I guess what I'm trying to get at is how is it being hacked to allow 3g calling such an awesome thing? You still need a data plan from verizon...i think the fact that it does wifi is much more amazing considering you dont need a data plan, and you can still call skype-to-skype free and pay to call other numbers...
  10. Michael Heller
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    Michael Heller New Member

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    Because the point of a mobile phone is to be mobile. Being tied to a WiFi point severely limits the usefulness. If you can use a VoIP solution like Skype on 3G, that means you can get a $20-30 per month data only contract from a wireless carrier and still have a fully functioning phone, instead of being forced to get a voice contract as well which pushes the monthly cost much higher.
  11. czerdrill
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    czerdrill New Member

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    Ah that makes sense. I didn't even know Verizon would allow you to just get a data plan and no voice with your phone (do they?). If that's the case, why doesn't everyone just cancel their voice and use this haha...
  12. Michael Heller
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    Michael Heller New Member

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    Carriers have data only plans because they all usually offer some kind of USB dongle for laptops, or data only for tablets. The reason people don't just cancel their voice is because carriers gimp our software and hardware so we can't. As I said in the article, carriers have stripped voice capability from the upcoming Galaxy Tab, and even with Skype being able to make calls on 3G, it still doesn't have the capability to receive calls on Android yet.
  13. czerdrill
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    czerdrill New Member

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    Ok so at least for me, being able to use it on wifi is far more beneifical than using it on 3g. the hack is "cool" i guess, but kinda pointless considering it's not saving you any money, and we already have skype for verizon to let you do it over 3g...
  14. Michael Heller
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    Michael Heller New Member

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    Exactly, the hack is cool, but still doesn't address the point that carriers are gimping our software, and the majority of users won't know about the hack and only know of the WiFi only version that's in the Market.
  15. deputc26
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    deputc26 New Member

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    Great article and spot on. The wireless carriers are wielding a kind of monopoly power and holding back the industry all to win a few bucks. This is why I am an advocate of making ISPs and Telcom's "dumb pipes" as the only control they ever wield over their "pipes" holds the industry back. What really annoys me is that I bet they'd make bigger profits with a more open architecture as well, they just wouldn't be as in control of that profit.