Digital Hell…

Finnish politicians have been pushing complex and incomplete digital solutions on unsuspecting ordinary folk as if they are the greatest innovations since water pipes and electricity…

All of our television, telephone, and internet are digital services that can be described as a joke, but they are far from being a laughing matter.

The reality is that they are a form of money-grabbing-bullying by private companies that have no real interest in offering customers a functioning and easy to use service at a reasonable cost.

Internet service providers, telephone services and the internet are provided as a package, by a handful of large companies to customers with small variations using complicated technical terms that few people ever understand. For practical purposes, their prices are almost identical.

In Finland, there are three companies -Telia, DNA and Elisa. They clearly have a monopoly-style hold on pricing and service – or, explained another way, pricing appears to be almost identical and service hopeless. Phone calls to service centres are guaranteed to be answered in times measured in blocks of 20 to 30 minutes. If you are lucky, your call will be answered after one block of waiting while listening to the normal untrue recording that “your call will be answered as soon as possible”!

Digital television services with HD broadcasts were introduced nationally with a state-owned company called Digita. That company was swiftly sold to foreign-owned private equity boys too cheaply by the then ring-wing government. Their concept of customer service is “f*#ck them and don’t bother calling us again…” We call them because we are forced to suffer regular periods when pixels break up along with the loss of sound. Calls do not result is any improvements and emails go unanswered. DNA our service provider at home, who uses Digita as the outsourcer for digital TV for the last 10 years, offers no explanation or compensation for bad reception.

Mobile telephone services seem to work rather well but costs are so high that one must wonder. Normal smart phones are expensive, and calls to corporate numbers can easily double your phone bill.

These three companies also sell mobile telephones and iPads. It is common practice that they will offer the most expensive phones first, the fastest internet connections with 4G and now 5G. However, when using the services, you can see that most people are always much slower than the promised 50Mps or 100Mps and we can also see that 3G systems are still plentiful on 4G phones.

If an Android or Apple phone costs €500 to €1000 then you must expect that something wonderful is on sale but in the end a €25 Nokia mobile phone based on applications on the cloud is almost the same.

Many ordinary people and pensioners have no idea how to use a new smart phone let alone need a 4g or 5G network. It is understandable that people with good jobs and wealth like to show off their prowess with the latest Apple by why school children and students need them is beyond belief. Your well-travelled correspondent is an IT expert with experience digital experience spanning decades and manages perfectly well with an older phone that cost no more than €200.

The last and worst thing that salesmen enjoy is the TV package that includes many completely useless channels in addition to one or two that may be interesting.

Our conclusion is that digital services are just like taxes without the benefit of critical and basic infrastructure and services. It is not surprising that a couple of pensioners can find that they are paying between €50 to €100 a month for services that they rarely need, and that is not a small piece of their monthly pensions, especially when you add the monthly financing fees for a smart phone of between €15 to €30 a month.

Just 30 years ago TV and radio were free and telephone bills probably cost just €10 a month, and nobody needed a user manual to answer the phone and turn on the radio or TV! Of course, we had to pay a license fee each year the TV and radio before the digital era, but we still do today!

Certainly, we have witnessed technology developments, but it appears that they serve the interests of a few, rather than the rest of us. Consumers need to be protected from such corporate greed that deliberately sells poor and expensive technologies to them.

This objective cannot be achieved by consumer activism but only by action by our governments. Such a solution can only succeed if our governments stop pushing technologies that suit corporate interests at the expense of consumers’ pockets. It is a fact of this brave new world that digital services are concentrated with a few dominant companies in each country.

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