This story is actually an ‘old’ one:
While on vacation in Mexico, Alberto downloaded Wall-E over his wireless carrier’s network, only to be slapped with an insane $62,000 bill.
After explaining to the carrier how outrageous that is, he was made an offer: They’d knock the bill down to what it cost them in bandwidth. Unfortunately for Alberto, they claimed their cost was still $17,000.
There are many stories of huge data charges while outside of your home country and accessing data. The only exception is on Blackberries. The issue (I think) is that mobile carriers charge the carriers of international visitors excessive roaming charges. And by excessive I mean clearly above the marginal (or any other cost) of providing such services. How do we know this? Because they don’t charge their local customers those amounts.
It is amazingly universal but also highly damaging to a clear reason to have a data-enabled mobile — being able to get information on the fly while traveling. The ability of RIM to get around this with Blackberries indicates that deals are possible. The question is why haven’t they been done. Why is it so difficult? Moreover, at these prices, it is not like many, other than the occasionally unwitting soul, are actually giving the international carriers any revenue. Could it be that the transaction costs associated with charging are so high that they don’t want the revenue? If that is the case, why not a ton of reciprocal deals that allow the data to be freely used and only kick in when there is excessive use? Something is seriously amiss here.