For more info contact: me
At the moment all that has been saved is the original introduction document:
This document consists of my thoughts on today's situation regarding SMS content providers and mobile phone network providers. Nothing contained herein should be regarded as any sort of factual documentation. Nothing written here is based on facts, or any sort of inside information. The document is purely based on my own experience. Basically this document is pure fiction, based on experience, and can under no circumstances be regarded as anything else.
I launched tequila.org back in the late 1997/early 1998. The site was originally not a mobile phone related site, but from the very beginning the plan was too sooner or later to migrate to a pure mobile phone related site. My general plan was basically to create a site containing more technical information about mobile phones in general, and the services they can provide in special. I was very interested in the technology, but I felt that I couldn't find very much available on the net, something I felt I could change.
Soon after this I bought my first SMS capable phone. My earlier phones could only receive SMS. My new one however could not only send SMS, it could even receive ringtones via SMS, something that fired up my "technophilia". However it was at the time impossible to find any service providers offering this other than Nokia. This triggered my imagination, and I was quite ready to start a service provider of my own.
Name: Brendan Johan Lee
Email: retrieve from brendan.is/on-email
The main reason for writing this document is getting feedback from you. So if you have any feedback whatsoever, please contact me. I accept feedback via phone or email or even in person at my local pub ;-). I have not published my phone number in this document, as I know from experience I'll get too many crank calls, so contact me first via e-mail, and we'll get in touch by phone later.
I would however greatly appreciate if you tag the subject of the e-mail with "[tequilasms.com feedback]". This will make my job sorting my email much easier, but also makes sure your e-mail gets through my spam blocker.
You can as a last option contact me via the contact form located here.
I still believe there is such a thing as a free lunch, and I greatly believe in the GNU Public License. I have therefore published this document under the protection of the GNU Free Documentation License. A copy of the full text of the license can be found here.
Today's SMS service providers are capitalist bastards, milking the general public for heaps of money that they in general don't deserve. I am with this not saying that everybody in the business are bastards (although I very often say it silently to myself). To [translate]utdype[/translate] myself: As I see it SMS costs almost nothing. The mobile phone network providers have almost no expenses whatsoever generating SMS, and almost as little terminating SMS.
So basically we have a situation where one provides a service that costs almost nothing to create and provide, but to the end user costs an arm and a leg. There are several reasons for this, but the following is what I believe to be the major of them. The situation today (this based on my experiences with the Scandinavian marked and Norway in general. I do however believe it to be more or less the same in most of the civilized world) is as follows: The bottom of the "structure" is the operators who own the cellular networks. SMS was in the beginning in most places a free extra feature of the GSM networks until a few operators realized that it was becoming more and more popular, and saw a possibility to earn big bucks. One of theses operators was the Norwegian telecom company Telenor. Not only did they start charging extremely high service fees for using SMS messages, but they also started a campaign to try to get the rest of the world to start charging. The reason for this was simple; they wanted to earn more money. Seeing as any Norwegians could get a foreign mobile phone deal and send SMS for free they still had a potential to earn even more by removing this possibility. By getting rid of the foreign free services everybody would have to pay for using the service.
But wait, there's more. Not only do the cellular network providers charge a ridiculously high fee for using their networks. Over the last few years more and more SMS content providers have started offering us services like ringtones, logos, and much, much more. This is as of today one of the most common usages for SMS. Even though these providers don't offer us nearly as many services as the SMS protocol can be used for, and even though these service providers charge us unreasonably high prices, they are highly popular and earn money hand over foot. Why? Basically because it's the only alternative for the common masses. These content providers take an already overpriced service, add a little content that would justify a small fee increase and increase the fee by up to 1000% or more. (It's true. In Norway a ringtone would cost a content provider as little as 0,2 to 1 NOK to originate. The highest prices that are charged are about 30-45 NOK. Some providers are offering the same service for about 4-5 NOK, but that's basically the exception confirming the rule.
But other organizations want money too. Take for example ringtones. Each time somebody in Norway orders a ringtone, the Norwegian organization TONO receives a huge chunk of the fee. TONO is an organization that charges money for using existing songs, and supposedly the artists are supposed to get the revenue. I could write a lot about what an unfair and stupid organization TONO is, but that isn't part of this document.
For a long while now I've wanted to start my own content provider. My idea has been around for the last five years, and about 3 years ago I started working on it. Basically I want to provide SMS content only charging a non-profit "fair" charge. Mainly for two reasons; To get people to realize how overpriced these services are. Secondly for my own education.
The service would of course have to be absolutely ad free. I would never accept using ads to fund the service. My idea has always been that it's worth paying slightly more for an ad free environment.
As I mentioned earlier the work is under progress, and slowly but surely moving forward. There are several problems I need to solve that I will mention in the next section. Some of them are partially solved, some are not solved at all, while others just need time. This document is mainly written to publicly air my idea, and if possible also get some creative feedback from the public, and perhaps if I'm lucky even get some brainstorming done.
Being able to originate SMS content at a fair price. This is one of the fundamental problems that had to be solved before the project even left the paper. This problem is as of today partially solved. I'll explain. I've managed to get agreements with foreign service providers offering a fairer price on originating SMS messages. These prices are far from what would be considered a "fair" price (my estimate 0,14 NOK would be a fair originating price) but are much lower than the originating prices provided in Norway.
So basically I can provide services much cheaper than the existing prices, but still not as cheap as I want to. The only problem with using foreign providers in this way is the stability. I don't have the same possibility to guarantee quick and proper service. I have however been testing these systems over several years, and this seems to be an almost non existing problem seeing as they are quite reliable and speed is very seldom an issue.
Problem two is the technical development. I've been working on the technical backend for the system for several years now and I'm still not done. The main reason is seeing as it is a non-profit system it basically becomes a hobby. I still have to acquire funds for living, meaning I have to have a job. So only my spare time can be used developing the system. This is a non-issue seeing as the system is being created, so the question isn't if, but when ;-)
Hardware. Basically hardware costs money, and I don't have much of it (money that is). So at the moment I'm limited to what I have or the small amount of hardware I can purchase on my meagre wages. So if anybody wants to contribute with funds or even better hardware, feel free to contact me.
One of the major issues is how to collect funds. Seeing as I don't have a money tree in my garden the whole project will be a non-profit project, not a free project meaning I will have to have some means of collecting funds. As far as I see it there are two possibilities:
Good old fashion bank transfers. This basically means anybody wanting to use the service would have to transfer funds to me by paying a bill in advance. The major problem with this is that it will basically limits the service to Norway, something I really don't want to do. Secondly most people frown upon this way of doing business. Even if the business is non-profit.
The second option is VISA and/or Mastercard transactions and/or some type of mobile wallet solution. Obviously this isn't the best solution seeing as these services cost an arm and a leg to use (for the business, not the end user). This would drive up the prices of my services, and basically kill the project seeing as I couldn't provide "fair" prices.
The best solution in this category seems to be paypal. But even their services don't come cheap.
The closest I've come to solving this as of today is offering a dual service: A bank transfer service for Norwegian users only for those who want a truly cheap service. And a VISA/Mastercard solution for the rest of the world and Norwegians who don't trust me ;-) Personally I find this to be a very bad solution, even though it's the best I've come up with so far.
This is a very big problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible, and definitely before the launch of the service. Therefore I would greatly appreciate if anybody has any sort of ideas, tips, suggestions or comments about this feel free to email me, or contact me by some other means. It will be greatly appreciated. See the top of this document for instructions on contacting me.
Brendan Johan Lee
October the 23d 2004
On a train somewhere between Oslo and Trondheim, Norway