The dream is to eventually have the best handheld device and run it on the best wireless network.
I call this dream the Carrierless Phone.
Today we have major carriers with locked in handsets.
Customers hate the arrangement, the customer service, and especially the vendor lock-in.
What are your options?
I’ve highlighted 2 (it’s really one – a WiFi only phone):
Update: Lifehacker.com talks about using an iPod as an iPhone and they say the exact same things I have! They share a cost breakdown of purchasing an independent device like the Sprint Overdrive or Roku Puck. Here is that graphic:
The problems with my idea are:
- You have to carry two devices
- The awesome device (HTC Evo) cannot be used for internet or phone when not in WiFi
- You still have to have a cell phone (at least you’re not locked in if you don’t have a contract)
- Phones (even old flips or candybars) are still carrier specific, so to switch carriers, you still have to buy a different phone.
Why a Carrierless Phone doesn’t Exist:
The carriers are not going to come out with this any time soon.
First, most of the carriers use different signals which prevents this. Changing to the same signal or frequency is not an option. Thus, a carrier would have to embed antennas in a device to pickup ALL the radio signals of ALL the carriers. Not going to happen.
Second, most people are fine with getting locked into a contact since it saves them several hundred dollars versus purchasing a phone outright. For example: my dream phone, the HTC Evo costs almost $600 without a contract, but you can get it from Sprint (with a 2 year contract) for $200.
Third, carriers have invested HUGE dollars in the wired and wireless infrastructure that covers this nation. They are not going to build a device that allows consumers to jump back and forth between networks. They want you locked in so they are guaranteed revenue. This would also cause a bidding war for the lowest price service which would wind up hurting all the carriers.
My Idea for a Carrierless Phone TODAY:
There are several cases which increase the functionality of phones today.
There are cases that act as additional battery holders, add certain peripherals (like infrared) and much more.
I am proposing that we can have a Carrierless Phone today by creating a similar case.
I would like to create phone specific cases which have several antennas inside them. This would allow the “case” to connect to any cell carrier’s network.
How is This Possible Now?
Nearly every carrier has a peripheral for purchase which allows anyone to give non-phone devices internet connectivity through 3G or 4G.
Several businesses have come out with WiFi broadcasting devices which use both 3G and 4G connections. The Roku Puck and Sprint Overdrive are two examples.
We need phone specific cases which have several antennas to connect to any network (including European) and broadcast a wireless signal, a Bluetooth signal, or just connects to the phone’s data port.
Most of the peripherals carriers offer can be purchased outright and paid for as they are used. No Contract!
Don’t like how one of the networks is working or treating you? Cancel it and use the phone case’s antennas to switch to a different service.
Going overseas? Purchase a temporary connection from a local carrier and connect to their network only while you’re there. If you’re using Google Voice, Skype or any other VoIP client, your number won’t even change!
Everything Becomes VoIP
This case would allow the phone to essentially become a standard internet device.
Google Voice, Skype, or any other VoIP solution could be used on the phone at little to no additional charge.
Worried about getting locked in to one of these providers?
More are springing up every day, and it’s much easier to switch from an internet service provider (like a VoIP) than it is to currently switch phone carriers.
I just need to build the first case…
I would like to start with the HTC Evo as it’s an Android device and Google Voice and Skype work much better on it than the iPhone. Plus it’s the most popular Android phone on the market right now.
I honestly cannot see how this would not be a success.
The carriers might try to block it, but if we use the same technology that’s already in their other internet peripheral devices, it would be almost impossible for them to do so and a short court battle should win that fight if necessary.