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How do you reckon mobile companies will pay for 3G?

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You know how huge multi-billion pound companies have managed to ruin themselves by paying ridiculous sums of money for 3G licences? Well, unless you live in a Disney movie, you will also know that you (that's you and me - the consumers) will end up paying for it. (Talking of which, this email just came in from PA: "Walt Disney has teamed up with NTT DoCoMo to develop animated content for mobile phones".)

But how? How? By being sneaky. We've already seen One2One and Vodafone (Orange in the pipeline) up the prices of their pre-pay mobiles in the hope of getting people onto contracts where they can milk them a bit more. All of them say that getting hold of new customers is no longer their main focus. No, it's "customer development"; making us love them.

This is guff of course. Getting hold of new customers in a competitive market is a costly business. And when debt is piling up, and mobiles are ubiquitous, it's best to spend less and make the most of what you've got.

While we were planning to do a story on exactly what differences you will notice in upcoming months as mobiles companies squeeze every last cent out of you, the Guardian has done a piece on it today. And so, seeing as we like to credit our sources, we will grab the bits we agree with out of it.

Tick off the following changes as they occur and email us with the word "bingo!" when you complete the line:

  • Handsets creep up in price. Not the old ones, the new ones. They always start off expensive and get cheaper when new ones arrive (like chips). Except this cheaper price will not be quite so cheap in future
  • Call charges will go up. Slightly. But more subtly
  • The hours defined as "peak" will get longer
  • Fewer new swanky mobile units. Stick with the old phone. Please
  • New tariffs that offer amazing new bundled services. Most likely frivolous and with a "celebrity's" head stuck on it. But these will cost you far more than it costs the company to run them
  • Pre-pay cards that comes in minutes rather than pounds i.e. 60-minute cards rather than £10 cards. That way companies can change the cost of them but consumers can't argue that the card is a con - it lasts 60 minutes after all [this one came from The Guardian - we're still undecided on the psychological logic].
  • You find that what once was free is suddenly not when you move to a new fantastic tariff
  • There must be a hundred other ways - simply make a note of your average monthly bill now and see what happens in the next six months

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