(The author currently works for Telefonica - but these views are his own)
Do you remember when mobile phones were in their infancy? The frequencies allocated to Racal's Vodafone and to BT's Cellnet were mutually incompatible. You couldn't simply switch your SIM to another handset, you had to specifically make sure that it supported your carrier's frequencies.
As the mobile market matured, "dual band" phones became common. Any phone you bought in the UK would work on any UK carrier's slice of allocated spectrum.
Then, of course, some people around the world decided that they wanted different frequencies. Sometimes for good reason ("we're already using 1800MHz for something important.") - sometime for no real technological reason ("we can bolster our economy by having everyone buy locally manufactured phones!").
The phone manufacturers reacted and now tri-band and quad-band phones are common. You can roam your 2G phone all around the world. Mostly.
With 3G we expected thing to be a better. Even the name - Long Term Evolution - implies that the wise heads behind the standard have a long-term solution, right?
At best estimates, there are around 26 different frequency bands allocated to LTE around the world! I say "estimate" because not all of the bands have been finalised yet. There may be more.
This is not just costly for manufacturers; it's highly confusing for customers.
Apple recently got in trouble with regulators in Australia. Apple were selling the 4G iPad and Australia has a 4G network - so consumers naturally thought they could use the new iPad on the ultra-fast mobile network. Not a bit of it. The iPad was totally incompatible with Australia's network.
The new iPhone, if bought in the UK, will support some of the proposed UK bands. It won't support all of the bands in the US, and none in Canada or Japan.
So we're back to the bad old days of mobile networks. The phone you buy could be locked to the carrier you're on. The chances of you taking your phone abroad and having it work are slim.
Customers want a phone that works everywhere. Manufacturers don't want to produce several regional variations of their phones. Network operators don't want to have to support customers who complain that their phone doesn't work as expected.
Yet we are in this crazy situation where the regulators around the world have failed to agree on a standards harmonisation which will benefit businesses and individuals.
Do we wait and hope that software-defined-radios become efficient enough to mitigate this problem? Do we simply accept that our access to technology depends on our geography? Do we pay more for phones that work globally? Or do we complain to our regulators and hope they see sense?
Or do we just buy the latest shiny gadgets and reluctantly put up with complications when we travel abroad for business or pleasure.