Ouch, this hurts. I just hang-up from a call with the customer service of my favorite German GSM and UMTS carrier where I asked the service if they have a UMTS data roaming agreement in place with a French carrier who might have launched the UMTS network already because their homepage is talking about GPRS roaming only. The point is, that I'm going to Paris over the weekend but I expect some important E-Mails and would like to know if I can use an available UMTS etwork there. The feedback I got wasn't too promising:
First the woman on the phone seriously asked me "if I want to use my UMTS SIM card for voice, because UMTS isn't designed to be used for voice calls yet." Oh no? Than I explained again that I would like to use both - data and voice and she told me again that "voice isn't supported at all but data only". Okay I thought to myself, also fine since I plan to use my UMTS SIM for data only because I have my GSM-enabled Smartphone with me anyway so I asked for UMTS-data roaming availabilities in France and she told me that she doesn't has "a clue if UMTS works there or not but if they would have a roaming partner, it wouldn't work for voice". Again this word - 'voice'. She was completely unaware about UMTS, the services you can use with UMTS (I decided not to explain her that you can even use both simultaneously: voice and data - for instance with video calls) and the international roaming situation for UMTS.
On the other hand this experience was a mirror of how UMTS is seen in public today, it's not seen as the follower of GSM with enhanced services but often seen as something completely different (often UMTS is seen as a competitor for W-LAN then a follower technology of GSM). Carriers definitely should spend some more marketing budgets to explain the customers (and employees) what UMTS is, what you can do with it today already and why it might be the proper solution to use already. But with this knowledge, UMTS will never make its way to the customer, if he isn't a geek.
Cheers ~ Arne