OpenFest 2006 - Share the Freedom

January 23, 2004

GSM operators

Ever since MobilTel, the first Bulgarian GSM operator, was established back in 1995, there has been an awful lot of badmouthing from all sides: complaints of bad customer service, high pricing, slow uptake of new technology, and so on. In the past year or two, some of thoes complains have also targeted GloBul, the second Bulgarian GSM operator. Well, some of those complains have had some merit, but IMHO, most of them could be placed in one of three classes:

  • Limited experience: people complain about things they see as "bad" in MobilTel's service and don't realize that some of those things are very, very hard to do for a mobile operator. Actually, I'd go out on a limb and say that MobilTel and GloBul have already done many things better than many other GSM operators worldwide.
  • Unrealistic expectations: there will always be a comparatively very small group of people with much technical knowledge and experience, who have heard about some cool new technology or service developed and possibly rolled out for testing by, say, Japanese mobile operators, and immediately start shouting and accusing our GSM operators of being slow on the uptake. The simple truth is, such hi-tech services usually have a very high cost of deployment and a very limited userbase. Thus, were a GSM operator to actually deploy them, it would have to either do it at a huge loss, or place a huge price on them, eliciting even more complaints and accusations.
  • And finally, envy: some might say this is typical of the Balkan peoples, I won't go that far. Still, it is hard to deny that it is a common human trait to look at someone who has made more or less of a success and immediately try to find a flaw or three or, failing that, just make up some mud to sling. Note that I do not consider all the accusations and complaints fabricated; as I said above, some of them do (or did) have merit. Some of the others, though... *shrug*.

And to give some substance to this so far purely abstract rant, let me at last come to the actual point :) The idea of writing this came up while discussing with a couple of friends an article from The Register yesterday: subscribers to the Orange mobile operator in the Netherlands can now choose a mobile number when signing up. The article highly praised Orange for this wonderful new service, to quote: "a luxury most European telcos do not offer yet to consumers". Even so, subscribers will be charged 100 EUR for picking a number.

So, the point: MobilTel has been offering this very service for a long, long time - I'm not sure if it was from the very beginning, but it has certainly been available for more than three years now, at the price of 30 BGN (a bit less than 15 EUR): Bulgarian and English version of the list of additional services.

And no, I don't think that this rant of mine will instill logic and reason into the badmouthers' minds and make them shut up :) I just needed to vent some steam.. or something :)

Note: some people who know me would realize that even though I neither work for MobilTel nor am a shareholder or anything, I am not completely impartial to them. Take this with a lump of salt if you will, but what I have written above is purely personal opinion, and as such may not reflect any definition of objective truth, be it according to the teachings of Plato, Socrates, Kant, Kubrik, or Eris. If you choose to gamble half your fortune based on predictions made by perusing this text, I will not be held responsible for the outcome, although, if you should win, a share of the prize would be nice :)

Posted by roam at January 23, 2004 11:31 AM


Not that I want to argue or something, but the example you mention is not really indicative. It is rather a marketing decision to offer or not this service. And doesn't point neither to service's quality and reliability, nor to the customer service approach at all.

Posted by: yunuz at January 25, 2004 10:28 AM