A while back, I moved to Mobile Vikings as my mobile operator. I was quite enthusiastic. The picture looked idyllic. 2 Gb per month of data transfer seemed like an offer you cannot refuse, given the state of the Belgian mobile phone market, characterized by high prices, wicked contracts and not-so-honest salesmen. Mobile Vikings is a MVNO, using the KPN network in Belgium.
I knew from the start that I would not get high speed 3G in my area. However, I did not expect their 2G network to be so slow. I also expected “Vikings” to fight for better speeds by putting network operators under competition, and eventually move to a network operator which offered better speed. I was wrong. On their Facebook page they continue to claim the network is still being upgraded to 3G, and keep reassuring their customers. In the meantime, their competitors are already deploying 4G. By the time KPN will have a decent 3G network, it will already be outdated by industry standards.
Little did I know at the time that the company running the Mobile Vikings brand is owned at 33% by KPN. In effect, it has no choice but to use the KPN network. In other words, it contributes to the sclerosis of the Belgian mobile market, under the guise of being a “Viking”.
The other disturbing issue was caused by the recent decision of the Antwerp appeals court to order ISPs Belgacom and Telenet to block DNS queries to the Pirate Bay. BAF, the lobbying organization defending IPR right holders subsequently blackmailed other ISPs, threatening to take them to court if they did not apply the same blocking, despite these ISPs not being a party to the cause. KPN silently complied. This also impacted Mobile Vikings customers, since they use the KPN network.
In the meantime, the EU court decision on the SABAM vs Scarlet case could be used to overturn the decision of the Antwerp appeals court, but KPN and others did not bother to have the case judged again, and did not resist to the pressure of the BAF. Anyway, why should KPN still care. They are apparently in the process of selling their Belgian mobile operations.
I do not use the Pirate Bay web site, neither do I even think of trying to do P2P over a 2G connection. It is all about principles. One would expect an ISP to take sides with its customers on such an issue, because Net neutrality is something that impacts ISPs too. They have repeatedly stated they do not wish to police the Internet. As has been several times demonstrated, DNS blocking is ineffective at best, and damaging at worst.
The silence of Mobile Vikings is understandable. They are not at liberty to criticize their shareholder. So much for being a “Viking”.
I was disappointed that Mobile Vikings did not put all its cards on the table. Nowhere is it clear that they are playing the KPN game on the Belgian mobile market. It would be much clearer if they told their customers beforehand.
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