Three cheers for 3

In my debut column for .net, I suggested that the cost of accessing the internet on the move meant that mobile phone operators could easily afford to engrave each of your emails on a solid gold baby and have them delivered to your house by Girls Aloud in a helicopter made of diamonds (the baby became a horse in editing, incidentally). So hurrah for 3, who’ve come up with a much better idea: flat rate, unlimited access.

It’s a great idea: instead of paying pesky per-megabyte charges you’ll pay an extra tenner or so per month, and unless you need high-bandwidth video that’s it. But most interestingly of all, 3’s also giving you Skype. Yep, Skype, the free-calls-over-the-internet service. From a network point of view that’s crazy – why make normal, profitable calls when you can do the VoIP thing instead – but from a customer’s point of view, it’s brilliant.

I’m quick to criticise firms, so it’s only fair to be nice when they’re doing something good. 3’s idea is a great one, and I hope there won’t be any nasties in the small print. I also hope – naively, I’m sure – that other operators will follow suit. If they do, the mobile internet might actually take off.