Phone inventor urges cheaper calls

Phone inventor urges cheaper calls

Data calls should be at least a tenth of the price, says Dr Martin Cooper

The man credited with being the father of the mobile phone said the cost of data calls has to drop by an order of magnitude before they begin to reach their potential.

Dr Martin Cooper, aged 81, made the first mobile phone call from a New York street in 1973 when he was head of research and development at Motorola – a company now struggling to regain its credibility in the industry.

He said people need to be able to afford to use applications becoming available on mobiles. In the course of research he was astonished to find that one online game had 100 million subscribers, a million of whom were playing at any one time.

People are naturally mobile and don´t want to be stuck at a desk playing, he said. If wireless access were $10 a month they might pay it, but they would be charged 10 times more.

“That is just the start," he said. "It is a moving target. As soon as you bring down the cost the application providers will find ways to use more bandwidth. In order to tap the creativity of all those people you are going to have to reduce the cost even further.”

Dr Cooper said competition from Wimax would provide the competition necessary to get operators to revise their charges.

He spoke at a Mobile World Congress briefing organised by Limo, a consortium aimed at developing a common Linux platform for mobile handsets. Member include key players such as Motorola, NEC, NTT Docomo, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics and Vodafone.

Fifteen Limo-based handsets have been unveiled at MWC, plus two reference platforms and one prototype.