Dreamcoms: A Crowdfunded Mobile Operator that is Awesome?
Mobile operators are at the top of the list of companies customers complain about. Their prices are abusive. Their services usable at best, but often horrible. Have you seen T-Shirts saying “I love my voicemail!”? When you call them for support, you end up adding inadequate support to the list of complaints. So writing a blog post about how unhappy people are with their mobile operator is not valuable. What if the crowd could fix all these problems?
How to build a dream mobile operator?
From a technology perspective we have come a far way in recent years. Lime Micro, Yate, Nuand, Fairwaves, Telestax, Metaswitch, etc. have all been working on little puzzle pieces. There are relatively cheap micro base stations and very likely we end up below $100, and even $50, in the next two years. Shortly there will be open source LTE. There are open source value added services app stores. Open source and scale out communication management solutions. Open source software defined networking. It is time to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Don’t you need an LTE license? In countries like the Netherlands and Sweden it is legal to put a mobile base station as long as you stick to some limitations around height, strength of signal, etc. In Mexico you can put up a base station in areas that are not covered by the traditional mobile operators. You have LTE-U, an unlicensed part of the spectrum that new mobile phones support. White spaces database can technically allow LTE spectrum that is not being used in a geographical area to be repurposed while the main license holder does not use it. So if you use the unlicensed spectrum and white spaces in most countries and start with normal spectrum in a handful of other countries and focus on making customers happy, then governments will get persuaded by happy crowds to change laws on spectrum licenses and make voters happy. What is needed is a better model that can be copied by many countries.
What does a dream mobile operator look like?
Should a mobile operator allow communities to build out their own networks and have federated models in which communities can interconnect? You can use my network, if I can use yours. Or alternatively is there only one network? Perhaps a peer to peer model?
If you don’t host an antenna, would you pay for data and if so how much? What if somebody does not pay? Prepay vs postpaid? Should bitcoin be the preferred form of payment? Should data caps exist to avoid abusive behaviour? Can certain traffic be given less priority if it improves overall experience for everybody at the cost of some? What services would be needed? How is support provided? What about governments and operators trying to use laws to go against what the crowd wants?
There are still a lot of questions to be answered. And with enough people trying to find solutions, they are all solvable. However there is one fundamental question:
Would you use a crowd funded mobile operator?
If there is no demand for a crowdfunded mobile operator then this is just another blog post. But the first step in a crowd funded mobile operator is to validate that the crowd wants it. How do you do this? Simple! Tweet, retweet, favour any tweet with #dreamcoms. Vote up on Hacker News any articles about Dreamcoms. Tell your Facebook, Google+, etc. friends about Dreamcoms. Blog about how Dreamcoms could solve certain problems. Make viral Youtube videos about Dreamcoms. Make T-Shirts. Campaigns. Anything that brings Dreamcoms into the spotlight.
If you are unhappy with your current mobile phone operator and you want to dream about a communication provider that is awesome, you tell the world about Dreamcoms. Enough social media traffic will enable to form a community that can work on Kickstarter and Crowd funding initiatives that solve every aspect that needs to be put in place. At the moment it is a dream but wouldn’t it be awesome to make it real. It is in your hands now to tell the world that you want Dreamcoms to happen…