Think Globally, Act Locally

In an age where no one thinks twice about jumping on a plane and a few hours later doing business two continents over, you would think that we would have figured out a way to make cell phones to a) work any place on the planet, and b) how not to take out a second mortgage for the privilege.

The issue is – of course – complex.  Not only is there a pure technology matter (What’s the frequency, Kenneth?) but one of standards (CDMA, GSM, etc.).  And then, there is greed.

Yes. Pure and simple.  Greed at its best.  If there is an opportunity to fleece the consumer, then why not do it?  And in the cellular world opportunity abounds!  The minute you cross borders the local operator wants his cut, while the home operator still wants his.  The result?  Bring your wallet, and it best be thick.

Many have accepted this outrageous fleecing as “cost of doing business” and move on.  Of course it is just that.  It is cost of doing business, and that makes business overhead go up, which makes deals more expensive, which makes… you get the drift.  Market economics 101.  And, don’t even get me started on the lack of cross-operability between standards.  And, it is the same operators that are fleecing us that tell us how expensive and difficult it is to establish cross-operability.  Hogwash!

The European Union legislature is one of the bodies that has been looking at this, and there are several proposed laws to curb what boils down to abuse by the cellular providers (in Europe crossing borders is easier than crossing state lines in the U.S.)  If and when this legislation passes, it will still be a long way from solving a world-wide problem.  So, what’s a business person to do?

Think Globally, and Act Locally!  Get yourself an unlocked phone, and as soon as your feet touch the ground of your destination walk into a cellular store and buy a local SIM card with a local number, and all the features you want.  Sounds complicated?  Not if you can figure out the working end of a toothbrush.  Trust me!  The local store knows the best deals and they will be happy to help you.  In English!  And your card will work forever.  Visit, after visit, after visit.

Sure, you end up with half a dozen international numbers.  Letting your associates know the number is trivial.  Takes one e-mail.  You can even add the local number to your signature!  Personally, I have saved hundreds of dollars in fees by doing exactly this.  A small inconvenience for big savings.

Because, if you are expecting any of the cellular providers to “hear you now” about your complaints… You’ll get nothing but a busy signal.

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