T-Mobile launched its "Web'n'walk" plan in Germany a few months back, deciding to eschew using the standard carrier portal for mobile net access and use Google as its home page. Suddenly, open Web access from a phone was no longer the domain of nuts, but a competitive differentiator. T-Mobile has now launched the plan in the UK, kicking up the hype around mobile Net access along with it. Carrier executives are making out that the new open internet access is just like accessing the net from a PC on a broadband connection, an assertion that's wrong both in fact and theory. First, they're charging a minimum of 30 pounds per month (about $53) for 100 voice minutes and 40 MB of data. While that might be better value than some European mobile data plans, the 40 MB limit is pretty pathetic for something being compared to usual fixed broadband tariffs. The other problem is that surfing the web on a phone is fundamentally different than surfing from a PC -- a lot of mobile surfing is task-based and better handled with a service than forcing users to search. Users shouldn't be forced to choose between good services, but closed internet access and open access, but no services, just search. Open-access search and well-designed services aren't mutually exclusive.
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