The fixed mobile convergence (FMC) outlook looks bright in Europe, where operators are findings ways to tempt people off fixed telephone lines with improved indoor mobile phone coverage and price plans.
Vodafone is providing customers in Germany with a service that charges a lower rate for calls made at home, for instance, but has noticed people are finding innovative ways to get maximum discounts.
When signing up new subscribers, Vodafone operatives instruct customers to walk around their house so they can pinpoint and map the location of the mini cellular network to be created whilst the customer is still on the phone. Having established its boundaries, any calls found to be inbound or outbound to that 'private' picocell are then charged at a lower rate.
But instead of ambling around their digs to establish the limits of their low cost coverage, German students have been hopping on the back of scooters and zipping around the campus during the radio assessment, thereby establishing their 'private' networks to areas of 2 square kilometres or more.
Vodafone operators say they smelt a rat when the high level of background noise caused by the scooters' engines causes excessive interference on the line. No chance of performing the same trick from a jet aircraft then, but I'll be on my pushbike tomorrow ..
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