It took me almost two days this week to get my phone working properly in Australia. Voice was easy, simply subbing an Optus (aussie call provider) SIM card for the one from Verizon. Data was an entirely different animal, which required configuring my phone with a few APNs without the help of customer support (who were obligated to tell me my Verizon phone was unsupported). Once it worked, it did so phenomenally, all the voice and data I could drink in 5 days for less then $20. Even allowed me to write this post, while sitting in the park with the view above.
I put up with all of this hastle today because I have to. Too little of the population uses smart phones and those who do use them for too wide of a variety of purposes. This, and the linking of phones to networks through subsidys has allowed wireless providers to avoid being commoditized. This means they can charge more and avoid doing things like making it easy to travel internationally.
I think the time has come for the axis to shift, the phones need to become the expensive part. This will allow us to hold our wireless providers accountable for their primary business, cheap and easy to use networks, without fear of switching because of the phone we want, the network are friends are on, or the contract we signed.
Hopefully enough americans agree with me to start putting pressure on the providers.