Major milestone: Major British mobile tel provider moves from walled garden and pay-per-use pricing to "open gardens" and flat-rate internet access. S

Until now, the mobile phone networks have been walled gardens with pay-per-use data plans and in order to build a telephone application, you had to customize it for every phone and every model and every carrier. It has been frankly a nightmare and has even prompted Michael Arrington to comment at The New New Internet conference in Virginia this summer that companies “shouldn’t bother with mobile in the U.S. – it’s a fragmented nightmare and only SMS works properly and that’s just barely.”

Well…a major structural crack just occurred in Europe and with any luck it will be the crack that was heard around the world and that will hopefully precipitate a cascade of reaction from other providers to follow along.

Hutchison 3, a telco provider in the UK, has just announced a fixed rate pricing model and an “OpenGardens” strategy. This fixes two of the major structural flaws in the mobile sector. In a perfect world, this will drive a chain reaction and like the Berlin wall, this would cause flat-rate pricing and open gardens to flourish across the planet, creating a massive open platform upon which innovation would explode across the 2 billion phones currently on the planet.

Back to reality. What will this mean really? I have no idea. But we should all watch this one very closely.

(Thanks to Ajit Joakar for the tip.)