Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 20th Mar 2011 20:20 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless A major deal just went down in the United States, which seriously shakes up the mobile industry on the other side of the pond: AT&T has announced it plans to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom.
Order by: Score:
:O
by ThelVadumee on Sun 20th Mar 2011 20:35 UTC
ThelVadumee
Member since:
2011-01-01

WORT WORT WORT???

Reply Score: 0

FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by Morgan on Sun 20th Mar 2011 20:37 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

I read this on /. when I got up earlier today. What a crappy thing to wake up to! I went to T-Mobile specifically to get away from AT&T's crap while staying with GSM so I have a greater selection of devices. T-Mobile's tech and billing support are much better than AT&T's as well.

And the worst part? I just bought a Nokia N900 last month and have been loving the hell out of it. Now I fear the same thing that happened to phone compatibility when AT&T Wireless became Cingular, then became AT&T again, will happen now.

Reply Score: 4

RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by sc3252 on Sun 20th Mar 2011 20:40 UTC in reply to "FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
sc3252 Member since:
2005-09-06

I woudln't worry about it too much, you probably have 2-3 years before they force you off that phone and off your current plan. They don't want to look like the devil right away, so they will take away things slowly...

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by AnythingButVista on Mon 21st Mar 2011 14:40 UTC in reply to "RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
AnythingButVista Member since:
2008-08-27

I woudln't worry about it too much, you probably have 2-3 years before they force you off that phone and off your current plan. They don't want to look like the devil right away, so they will take away things slowly...

AT&T loves to be the most hated wireless provider in the entire world. They like to be the Microsoft of the wireless industry. Didn't you know they are threatening jailbroken iPhone users who are tethering, slamming them with a chenge to their data plans on March 27?... a change for the worse, mind you!

Every evil trick they can pull off on T-Mobile customers, they are not going to leave unused.

Reply Score: 1

RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by WereCatf on Sun 20th Mar 2011 20:48 UTC in reply to "FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

And the worst part? I just bought a Nokia N900 last month and have been loving the hell out of it.


Yay, that makes you practically a buddy of mine ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by Morgan on Sun 20th Mar 2011 20:59 UTC in reply to "RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

:)

I've been wanting one since it was first announced, but I was on AT&T at that time with a BlackBerry. Due to family and financial reasons I was never able to get one until now (divorced and healthy financially).

This isn't the first time this has happened. Back when I was on AT&T Wireless (pre-Cingular) I had a Palm Tungsten W and loved it. With the switch to Cingular it was slowly phased out and I bounced from a Palm Treo 650 to the iPhone, then to BlackBerry before leaving AT&T for greener pastures.

I will probably keep the N900 even if it loses wireless support, as the WIFI and other functions keep it useful as an entertainment device.

Reply Score: 2

RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by Undomiel on Sun 20th Mar 2011 21:50 UTC in reply to "FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
Undomiel Member since:
2007-11-23

I'm pretty unhappy about it as well. We left AT&T to T-Mobile after having been sent to collections twice for the same paid-on-time bill. Verizon's rates are terrible for what we want and Sprint isn't much better.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by Morgan on Sun 20th Mar 2011 22:16 UTC in reply to "RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

My final straw with AT&T was a similar situation. My (now ex-) wife received a new phone via upgrade, with a cracked screen. AT&T refused to replace or refund it even though we contacted them right away, and had insurance on her old phone that was supposed to transfer over to the new one but for some reason did not. Since the upgrade renewed the contract on that line, I couldn't drop the line without an ETF.

That was the last push I needed after years of declining quality in support and devices.

Reply Score: 2

RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by ricegf on Mon 21st Mar 2011 11:28 UTC in reply to "FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

I'm not sure what will happen with my beloved N900, either. *sigh*

Ironically, I began shopping for new broadband and HDTV service 7 days ago. I went to att.com to log in and review my bill, and was greeted by a video touting their new login process to "improve customer satisfaction".

Didn't work.

Instead of my longstanding username, they wanted my landline phone number. Unfortunately, both their website and their telephone support bots insist the phone number printed on my AT&T bill isn't an AT&T number.

The only human I've found at AT&T after a week of exploring their endless menu systems was a sorry excuse for a human somewhere in the bowels of a network repair center, who told me that they no longer have real people in real stores (except to sell you a cellphone on a 2-year lopsided contract), and that "it's hard to get through on the customer support (sic) line".

So, I have to find new providers, and then send AT&T a certified letter return receipt requested via the USPS (another paean to crappy monopoly service, but let's not go THERE). SO glad I don't do contracts.

And now I'm about to lose T-Mobile and the nice people who have been so helpful there. Do you know that when my N900 dropped off of 3G, even though they don't "support" the N900, their phone support actually researched the problem and provided a solution? Can you imagine anyone at AT&T doing something so... useful?

***sigh***

Reply Score: 3

RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by Junglist on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 13:45 UTC in reply to "FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
Junglist Member since:
2007-09-07

I'm in exactly the same boat! I just picked up an N900, sweet device, everything I wanted in a smartphone. Just had to switch to T-Mobile from big V. I think AT&T uses different GSM bands than T-Mobile so I hope I'm not going to have to get a new phone anytime soon. What a fail-pail full of lose. ;_;

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: FFFFUUUUUUUU...
by Morgan on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 14:20 UTC in reply to "RE: FFFFUUUUUUUU..."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

You (and I) will likely lose 3G/3.5g speeds when the change occurs, as (according to a friend who is high on their tech support food chain) AT&T plans to convert the T-Mobile 3G bands to LTE for their existing network. My friend said that AT&T hopes to move all T-Mobile smartphone users to AT&T 4G/LTE devices within the next two years to facilitate the changeover.

He made the point that by then I'd have a better phone anyway, and I had to explain to him that the N900 was to be my phone for at least the next three years, until this announcement anyway.

It sucks big donkey balls.

Reply Score: 2

Kinda lame
by sc3252 on Sun 20th Mar 2011 20:38 UTC
sc3252
Member since:
2005-09-06

Not really sure what to think about this. I guess one thing is I am surprised, since I always assumed it was going to be sprint and not AT&T to buy Tmobile. While this does look bad it might have one posotive effect, it could force AT&T to give up quite a bit of power like locking down phones or something to make this go through(of course if they give up nothing, then this is really bad).

Reply Score: 2

RE: Kinda lame
by Priest on Mon 21st Mar 2011 14:31 UTC in reply to "Kinda lame"
Priest Member since:
2006-05-12

It is amazing that even with all that has happened carries still insist on trying to cripple phones as a business model.

Reply Score: 2

There is no escape
by MechR on Sun 20th Mar 2011 20:43 UTC
MechR
Member since:
2006-01-11

DAMMIT, I was about to switch away from AT&T to T-Mobile! They seemed like the least-evil major US carrier. (Other than maybe Sprint, who I don't recall ever making headlines for better or worse.)

Reply Score: 2

RE: There is no escape
by Worldbuilder on Sun 20th Mar 2011 21:54 UTC in reply to "There is no escape"
Worldbuilder Member since:
2006-04-12

Well, T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom is the most-evil major DE carrier in Germany.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: There is no escape
by Andre on Sun 20th Mar 2011 22:15 UTC in reply to "RE: There is no escape"
Andre Member since:
2005-07-06

It's what used to be D1, right?

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: There is no escape
by qbrick on Mon 21st Mar 2011 13:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: There is no escape"
qbrick Member since:
2010-04-20

No, RRReichspost actually. They haven't changed their behaviour since then.

Reply Score: 1

BAD
by joekiser on Sun 20th Mar 2011 21:37 UTC
joekiser
Member since:
2005-06-30

This is insane. Now there are now three major carriers in the US. How is this good for consumers? T-Mobile had the best customer support, was the most friendly service if you wanted to buy an unlocked phone, and was the best network for early adopters. It might have been the only service where it is actually cheaper to pay as you go than it is to get a contract.

Has there ever been a situation where merging cellphone companies ended up making things better for the consumer? Sprint-Nextel was a textbook case of a merger gone wrong (we actually studied this in my capstone management course). Only within the past year has Sprint started to recover its reputation. More recently, the Alltel-Verizon merger introduced Alltel users to the lying scumbags known as Verizon customer service who would use any opportunity to renew your contract and sell you an ugly phone designed by the folks at jitterbug.

I hope I can get out of my T-Mobile contract without paying ETF once this thing goes through.

Reply Score: 3

RE: BAD
by joekiser on Mon 21st Mar 2011 13:28 UTC in reply to "BAD"
joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

Just an update, I have found what may be my new cellphone provider. SimpleMobile is a GSM provider that allows you to just buy the SIM card and has $40 unlimited talk + text. Anyone here have experience with this service? I'm tempted to give it a try.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: BAD
by btrimby on Mon 21st Mar 2011 14:03 UTC in reply to "RE: BAD"
btrimby Member since:
2009-09-30

Just an update, I have found what may be my new cellphone provider. SimpleMobile is a GSM provider that allows you to just buy the SIM card and has $40 unlimited talk + text. Anyone here have experience with this service? I'm tempted to give it a try.


SimpleMobile appears to be an MVNO on T-Mobile's network.

Here's a list of MVNO's
in the US along with which network(s) they operate on (includes Defunct operators)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_US_MVNO" http://en.wikiped...

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: BAD
by joekiser on Mon 21st Mar 2011 14:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: BAD"
joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

I admit I do not know much about these second-tier providers that piggyback off other networks. Could the T-Mobile acquisition lead to increased rates or incompatibilities for SimpleMobile users?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: BAD
by btrimby on Mon 21st Mar 2011 15:45 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: BAD"
btrimby Member since:
2009-09-30

I imagine it depends on the contract they have with the network operator (in this case T-Mobile).

From a technical point of view, however, if SimpleMobile allows 3G/4G access, it'd be using T-Mobile's frequencies which AT&T plans on re-purposing for LTE instead.

What I said about the LTE thing might not really matter. I'm not an expert at any of this, but it's possible that AT&T would upgrade the existing equipment to LTE or install along-side. LTE equipment might actually be backward-compatible with the HSPA+ "4G". I'm not sure.

Edit: Added last paragraph

Edited 2011-03-21 15:57 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: BAD
by chrish on Mon 21st Mar 2011 13:48 UTC in reply to "BAD"
chrish Member since:
2005-07-14

Hey, now American can experience the same joyful cellular rape that Canada's been loving for years now!

Looks like your major ISPs are following ours, too, with throttling and bandwidth caps.

The rest of the world has to be loving the way these huge companies are crippling high-tech services for North America.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: BAD
by joekiser on Mon 21st Mar 2011 15:04 UTC in reply to "RE: BAD"
joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

Yeah, fortunately I still have Clearwire for my ISP. Its a 4G WiMax service with unlimited data usage. I've been using the service for 3 years with no issues, although if one were to read their forums, I'm in the small minority of users who consistently get 5 bars (I've moved 3 times in those three years and always had good signal). Still, I love it for what it provides as an alternative to the ISP monopolies.

Reply Score: 2

Well now that's just great ........
by marcus0263 on Sun 20th Mar 2011 21:48 UTC
marcus0263
Member since:
2007-06-02

I simply LOATH T-Moble, they screwed me pretty hard back when they were Voicestream.

Me, I've actually been pretty happy with AT&T.

Reply Score: 1

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I was happiest with AT&T when they were still Cingular. I was automatically upgraded to a "Premier" account status when I added tethering to my Treo 650 way back in 2006. My account stayed at that status through the transition to AT&T, and for a while I was still treated like gold by the support staff. It was some time around the end of 2009 when the support started feeling like the same old "screw him and see if he notices" from the pre-Cingular times.

T-Mobile was a breath of fresh air, where I was (and still am so far) treated better than even the best of times with AT&T. I'm really going to miss that level of customer care.

Reply Score: 2

Worst possibility ever
by sukru on Sun 20th Mar 2011 22:24 UTC
sukru
Member since:
2006-11-19

T-Mobile had the best customer service, and most affordable value for their coverage. I expect in no way that AT&T will honor our current service level.

Even though they'll probably keep the contract language, they will change the "meaning". For example, T-Mobile does not force you (too much) into a tethering deal, while AT&T recently sent everyone SMS warnings for that. Or T-Mobile will upgrade your phone for free, even one year early, if you ask nicely. I've never heard AT&T doing such a nice thing.

They'll probably take away the bandwidth from T-Mobile network, and transfer it to server AT&T customers.

Only good GSM provider is now gone, I might probably bite the bullet and switch the CDMA.

Reply Score: 2

Ug, haven't we learn our lesson yet
by Praxis on Sun 20th Mar 2011 22:46 UTC
Praxis
Member since:
2009-09-17

I have a sickening feeling that we are headed toward another telco monopoly, or rather duopoly in this case, but thats hardly any better in this case. This puts Sprint way behind and in subscribers compared to the new AT&T giant and Verizon, so its only a matter of time before they get squeezed out too, maybe verizon will try to pick them up. This leaves users with the sorriest state of competition in the telecom industry since the ma bell monopoly we had to bust years ago, which has pretty much reformed uncontested. Do people somehow think things will be different this time. BAH, this whole situation stinks.

Reply Score: 4

Almafeta Member since:
2007-02-22

I have a sickening feeling that we are headed toward another telco monopoly, or rather duopoly in this case, but thats hardly any better in this case. This puts Sprint way behind and in subscribers compared to the new AT&T giant and Verizon, so its only a matter of time before they get squeezed out too, maybe verizon will try to pick them up.


My phone, which is neither AT&T's nor Verizon's, laughs.

Also - "monopoly"! (takes a shot)

Reply Score: 2

Why TMobile, why?
by latreides on Sun 20th Mar 2011 22:50 UTC
latreides
Member since:
2011-03-20

This is horrible news. AT&T has poor pricing, horrible customer service, and a laughable selection of Android phones. I switched from AT&T, incurring a heavy ETF to get a better phone, with better customer service, and about half the phone bill, and now it seems like it will be all for naught.

I wonder how/how long AT&T will support TMobile 3G and 4G if this deal goes through.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Why TMobile, why?
by WorknMan on Mon 21st Mar 2011 03:18 UTC in reply to "Why TMobile, why?"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

This is horrible news. AT&T has poor pricing, horrible customer service, and a laughable selection of Android phones. I switched from AT&T, incurring a heavy ETF to get a better phone, with better customer service, and about half the phone bill, and now it seems like it will be all for naught.


Yeah, I would imagine the biggest drop in quality that T-Mobile customers are going to notice is with the support. Basically, the gist of it is that when an AT&T customer support rep tells you something is going to happen, you can, 9 times out of 10, count on the exact opposite happening of what they told you.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by GenBlood
by GenBlood on Mon 21st Mar 2011 02:31 UTC
GenBlood
Member since:
2006-07-05

I'm a T-Mobile customer and I'm not happy ;)
Looks like I'm going to drop T-Mobile as soon
as the deal is complete ...

Maybe, I can live without a cell phone...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by GenBlood
by Morgan on Mon 21st Mar 2011 19:24 UTC in reply to "Comment by GenBlood"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I've already started researching alternatives. Unfortunately all options mean losing the N900 as a phone, though I could keep it as a MID.

Anyway, so far it looks as though Virgin Mobile is a good option for me. They offer a plan that is $25/month for unlimited data and texts, and 300 minutes/month which is far more than I use (I'm a texter not a talker). That plan applies to their Android phones too, of which they have two. Both phones are decent; one is an LG Optimus V with no physical keyboard for $149 (probably about to be replaced as it is now out of stock) and a Samsung Intercept with keyboard for $199. That's quite reasonable for an Android phone from a major manufacturer without a contract. They also offer a BlackBerry but you have to pay $10/month extra for BIS, if you want to use the built in email and IM functions.

The only downside is that Virgin is just an arm of Sprint, which has spotty service in my area. I'm just outside of Atlanta, and while I'm in what is considered the "metro area", a lot of the places I go to regularly are on the extreme edge of Sprint's coverage map.

The only other option with good coverage for me is Verizon, but I'd go without a phone before subjecting myself to their particular flavor of customer rape. They are actually worse than AT&T.

Reply Score: 2

UltraZelda64
Member since:
2006-12-05

Really.. they're just too god damn big in the first place, and acquisitions like this only make it like ten times worse. And they all get off by f***ing over their customers hardcore, every chance they get, with fine print, hidden costs, contract/"service plan" lock-in agreements with stiff penalties for cancellation, and over-priced services (texting, anyone?). And constant bombardment everywhere you go advertising their damn phones.

Choosing a provider is not a matter of choosing the lowest prices and best service, but getting f***ed over less. As if being subscription-based services doesn't already rake them in enough money to begin with. F*** 'em all.

Sorry, the more I see, hear and read about these companies, the more it drives me nuts. Just had to vent. I wouldn't mind having a cell phone (had one briefly once or twice over the last 6-7 years...), but their bullshit keeps me from doing any kind of business them.

Yippee, AT&T/T-Mobile just got bigger... as if they weren't already big enough.

Edited 2011-03-21 02:53 UTC

Reply Score: 3

pbassjunk
Member since:
2009-09-20

Everything about this buyout will hurt customers. All it does is make someone who has a shit-ton of coin have a little more at the expense of everyone else. Jobs will be lost, customer service will get worse, contracts and fees will become even more draconian (because really.. where else can we go w/ our $ now - increasingly, money no longer 'speaks') and the tech will probably stagnate.

Factor this in with AT&Ts cash grab decision to start retroactively charging/force upgrading plans to tethering (WTF seriously - a bit sent to a cel is a bit sent to a cel is a bit sent to a cel)..

The Have's are doing their best to legally rape the Have Not's. I'm holding out hope that the more this shit happens the angrier people will get.

(US-centric post if it wasn't obvious..)

Edited 2011-03-21 03:38 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Mon 21st Mar 2011 06:11 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

T-Mobile in US is the only company that provides reasonable plans without a contract (perfect match for N900 and the like). What other companies do it?? So this is BAD for consumers.

Reply Score: 1

Why would T-Mobile sell?
by spiderman on Mon 21st Mar 2011 07:13 UTC
spiderman
Member since:
2008-10-23

I don't get it. Why would T-Mobile sell its US division? Their core business is to provide mobile carrier service. Their US division is precisely doing just that. Why would they want to drop their US customers? I don't think the US division is underperforming either. They're not in the red and they don't need immediate cash, unless they have a hidden plan. Are they going to expand elsewhere? WTF?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Why would T-Mobile sell?
by jal_ on Mon 21st Mar 2011 07:42 UTC in reply to "Why would T-Mobile sell?"
jal_ Member since:
2006-11-02

Exactly the same things sprang to my mind when I read the news. Why would they want to sell?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why would T-Mobile sell?
by broken_symlink on Mon 21st Mar 2011 14:47 UTC in reply to "Why would T-Mobile sell?"
broken_symlink Member since:
2005-07-06

Deutsche Telekom is supposedly in debt. According to this article http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/03/21/deutsche-telekom-is-the-darl... They will be using $13 billion to pay off some of their debt.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Why would T-Mobile sell?
by spiderman on Mon 21st Mar 2011 15:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Why would T-Mobile sell?"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

I see. It looks like some share holders want quick money. They will kill Deutsche Telekom, get all the cash they can get from it and go elsewhere with it. Thanks to their lower debt and share buyback the shares will artificially jump so they can sell at a high price. In the next few years, DT get cut to shred in Europe.

Reply Score: 2

Invisible hand
by Neolander on Mon 21st Mar 2011 07:43 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

I wonder, where are those usually defending the invisible hand of the free market right now ? I can't see them anywhere...

I mean, for everything which my country does badly, we are soon getting another mobile carrier, which doesn't seem to want to cooperate with the three others on pricing and has some interesting plans on the infrastructure side. But looking at the three others trying to sue it to hell before it's even there and now claiming that they won't give him access to their cellular network, I wonder if he would have made it without help from the government and the EU...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Mon 21st Mar 2011 11:14 UTC in reply to "Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Well, I for one am a huge fan of the invisible hand, but after 50 years and quite a few grey hairs I am also a huge fan of the government hand slapping its greedy little knuckles when power begins to consolidate into a few soulless corporations.

I don't want the government running business, explicitly or implicitly - that's worse than a business monopoly IMHO.

But we have Sherman Anti-Trust for a reason. Freaking use it to ensure meaningful competition, or we all lose.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Invisible hand
by Neolander on Mon 21st Mar 2011 12:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Invisible hand"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Then we may agree ;) What I'm against is total deregulation of the market, claiming that the invisible hand will magically solve all problems by itself. I've nothing against more hybrid government+companies schemes, as long as they guarantee a good minimal level of service/customer care.

As an example, except in highly exceptional events (wars, big sismic activity), telecom networks should not be down for more than a week, water distribution should not be stopped for more than 2 days, postal services should guarantee that letters and packages will be delivered within some country-dependent delay on the whole territory (not only big cities), nuclear power plants shouldn't leak dangerous crap in the environment and we should aim at using cleaner energy in the future, etc...

Afaik, this way of having the government put constraints on companies but trusting them even for basic services is how it works in some countries of northern Europe. Will check when I go to Sweden this summer.

EDIT : Oh, and also, there are some areas which are intrinsically not profitable in the short term (like fundamental research), and for that I don't think that companies should be trusted.

Edited 2011-03-21 13:06 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Mon 21st Mar 2011 18:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Yes, we're pretty close, I think.

I definitely support non-exclusive government funding for fundamental research (e.g., NASA), and making the results available to business on a non-discriminatory basis. Natural monopolies (e.g., power grid) must be regulated, of course, as must anything with public health implications such as nuclear power plants (which I strongly support, btw). I *love* farm subsidies, as they produce "too much" food (and that's such a great feature of America et. al. :-). I'm rather fond of cap and trade, because it makes environmentally friendly products more profitable relative to the alternative, which I much prefer to government edicts like the stupid light bulb ban.

Elsewhere, I prefer to let competition bring about the survival of the best products, with minimal interference from government. I used to be even more laissez-fare, but corporations like AT&T have convinced me otherwise. :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Invisible hand
by Neolander on Mon 21st Mar 2011 20:33 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Invisible hand"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Cap and trade ? Sorry, I don't know of this english expression, can you explain how it works ? Is it when governments reimburse part of the cost of some products depending on their priorities ?

Didn't know that this crazy light bulb ban was also applied outside of my country ;) In my family, we gently "fight" it by buying halogens, which are still allowed to be sold : they last longer than classical incandescent bulbs, eat about half less power, and contrary to fluocompact bulbs they actually work properly and don't have some suspicious background around them.

About nuclear power plants... As a citizen of France and a physicist, I have a love-hate relationship with them. I think that until renewable, clean, and preferably decentralized sources of energy like wind power, hydropower, and photovoltaic panels are ready, it's technically the best option for massive production of electricity. But in many ways, the market and politics around nuclear power stink, and I'd prefer them gone...

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Invisible hand
by spiderman on Mon 21st Mar 2011 22:10 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Invisible hand"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

In my opinion the best option is to consume power more intelligently. We just can't replace Nuclear power and have the same power output. We need to consume less power. Electric heaters should be banned and electric cars are a dead end. Home working should be the first option when possible.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Mon 21st Mar 2011 23:15 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Sorry, I'm commenting way to much (and way off topic), but...

"electric cars are a dead end"

Why is this? Electric cars can be directly powered by fully sustainable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. Sustainable hydrogen would be manufactured using electricity (most today comes from fossil fuels, of course) but at a significant efficiently loss, and the other alternatives of which I'm aware pollute rather badly.

"Electric heaters should be banned"

So you prefer wood-burning stoves or fossil fuels? Hibernating underground? Freezing all winter?

Sorry, just not following what you're suggesting here.

+1 on the telecommuting, though. I truly enjoy it!

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Invisible hand
by spiderman on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 07:29 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Invisible hand"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

Well, the electric cars are interesting but we just do not have the ability to produce enough energy to run them, even with nuclear power. We can afford to run some of them for PR purpose but we just can't put an electric car in the hand of even half the people who need transportation.

As for heating, in my opinion, the solution is isolation and low heat.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Invisible hand
by Neolander on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 06:48 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Invisible hand"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

That's one of the way photovoltaic power et al could be ready : reducing the demand ;)

However, your specific ideas raise interesting questions... I agree that electric heaters are a bad idea, but what can we use instead ? Solar heating is great, but in practice it has this big problem that it produces much less heat in winter and that heat cannot be stored for long periods, making it only suitable for "faucet" warm water. Geothermy is also nice, but does not work very well on the individual housing scale and AFAIK also requires specific natural conditions to work efficiently. Then we have the combustion way... After years of evolution, gaz heating has reached a very nice state, where it's both very efficient and quite clean in terms of pollution, but the available sources of gaz won't last forever and whether we manage to produce enough methane after that remains to be seen. Wood is quite interesting, but requires a big tree-planting policy to work : will we have enough space and political power to enforce that ?

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Invisible hand
by Neolander on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 07:03 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Invisible hand"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Cars are a *huge* issue, and not only a technical one. Nowadays' urbanism is heavily based on cars, especially in countries which don't have a rail network from the pre-car era like the US. If we want to switch to bike + rail, we must reduce the distance between the average home and train stations/basic services/work, which implies living in higher-density housing and thus forgetting about the dream of the pretty individual house with its garden - which would be best for several other technical reasons, but is a huge sociological issue. If we do not want to go to that extreme, we could also keep a bus network, but then we must much improve the engine which buses are based on. And afaik, the electric car is currently the best technical option in this regard, especially when coupled to better and cleaner electricity storage like hydrogen.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Invisible hand
by Neolander on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 07:18 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Invisible hand"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Telecommuting, when it does apply, can indeed reduce the load of transportation networks, but not void it as 1/It is sometimes very important for people to meet in person (thus the suggestion of someone in my country that telecommuting should not be done at home but in places dedicated to this purpose in every city) and 2/anything which requires expensive and/or uncommon equipment will still require people to move (as an example, looks like I'm going to spend most of my life in a clean room, that's not the kind of things which I can build at home).

There's also the problem of heavy loads, for which cars will always somewhat be needed. We can eliminate the need for individual cars (and that would be great), but some must still be available for delivering products and for rent in specific events. In short, I don't think we can get rid of cars, only make them technically more efficient and change their purpose to something more sane than taking a heavy 4-place monster to go to work...

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Mon 21st Mar 2011 23:10 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Cap and trade is a plan by which the government creates a fixed level of allowable pollution, breaks it up into "credits", and sells them to businesses who create pollution as a side effect of running their business. Generating pollution without a credit results in a significant fine, but if a company has extra credits, it can sell them on the open market for whatever they will bring.

Yes, it's a form of taxation. But it makes pollution a business expense, so an otherwise $1 widget made with a lot of pollution may turn out to be less profitable than a $1.50 widget made with little pollution, and it offers competitive advantage to finding "greener" manufacturing processes. It also allows that "invisible hand" to help allocate the pollution we decide to allow in our environment to benefit the most people.

It has obvious disadvantages, of course. How does the government know how much pollution is the "right" amount? If enviro-nuts gain control of government, they may clamp down on credits and strangle the economy, while businesses have even more motivation to corrupt the process and create and endless supply of cheap credits.

C'est la vie.

All that is why I'm only mildly enthusiastic. Might work better than what we have now, which is a government demanding that businesses spend 50% of their profit to increase pollution filtration from 92% to 93%. *sigh*

Well, I also agree that nuclear isn't the long-term answer. It just has great base load characteristics to supplement the growing wind power system in Texas.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Invisible hand
by Neolander on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 07:39 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Invisible hand"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I see a big, big issue with that : it decides on who can pollute based on financial criteria (can they pay ?) alone. Even if we see money as a reward for good work (which is questionable), it means that the right to pollute is a reward, which is not quite the mentality which we want to achieve.

It's like the developing countries problem when talking about environmental issues : as they start to develop an industrial ecosystem, they work on the cheapest areas first, which are also the most dirty. We "occidental" people are then only happy to leave it to them, wash our hands, and point our finger on them screaming "Look where the pollution comes from ! Them pigs !" on environment-related summits.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Invisible hand
by molnarcs on Mon 21st Mar 2011 12:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Invisible hand"
molnarcs Member since:
2005-09-10

I don't want the government running business, explicitly or implicitly - that's worse than a business monopoly IMHO.

Although I agree, I have an interesting counter-example. In Vietnam, there are about 6 or 7 carriers. The two largest are state owned (VinaPhone, MobiPhone), while the third largest is owned by the army. Another small one is owned by the secret service (yeah, I'm not joking! you can buy cellphones directly from the secret service around here).

Now the interesting thing is that these three companies are at each others throats! Competition is so fierce, the prices have been dropping steadily in the past few years. In fact, the government had to intervene (just issued a new decree last year) because they were so busy undercutting each others prices, that smaller carriers could not compete (ie they can't afford to run at a loss for a few weeks like the major ones). They have dirt cheap pay-as-you go packages, and almost every month they have days when you can recharge your phone and get double the value (pay 100.000 VND and get 200.000 for example). 100.000 VND is about $5, that basically lasts for about a month. You can use 2g with data (GPRS optional), 3g + data (HDSPA), and the latter is so cheap, that now I know people who switched from ADSL at their homes to 3g (via tethering).

How they do it? Well, despite the fact that they are owned by the state (plus one by the army, one by the secret service), they are run like a real business - ie the government won't help them if they fail in the market - so they must produce profit, must grow their customer base and retain them, in other words, they must compete just like any other company. And despite the fact that the owner is the same (in case of VinaPhone and MobiFone)they have their own, completely independent management, CEOs, etc.

edit> forgot to add - one of the major ISPs (FPT telecom) is also state owned. So now they are in fierce competition with VinaPhone and MobiFone (+ Viettel, the army owned one) for a share of the Internet market. The cellphone companies are selling cheap 3G sticks for mobile internet, pay-as-you go or on contract (in which case, they throw a free netbook at you).

Edited 2011-03-21 13:04 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Mon 21st Mar 2011 17:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

That's interesting, but I don't see the value in the government owning these telecom companies. Can you elaborate?

I "get" private / corporate ownership of telecom companies with the government as referee (strong consumer protection and management of public resources such as frequency allocation, and ensuring no monopoly abuses against competitors), but that may be cultural predisposition. Having government own the corporations seems like a conflict of interest with it's duty to regulate.

I'd love to learn more, though.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Invisible hand
by molnarcs on Mon 21st Mar 2011 18:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Invisible hand"
molnarcs Member since:
2005-09-10

Yeah, I was a bit surprised about this - have no idea what is their interest in this at all. It might be a cultural thing. Vietnamese are competitive and have a very keen business sense. Every single family I know has some sort of business. Thanks to the fierce competition, these companies might work on pretty low margins - so it's not like the government can reap lots of profits or something.

It might be a strategic decision, part of opening up the economy and politics. Perhaps they didn't attract enough capital at the beginning, so they invested in this area. I know that IT and telecommunications is regarded as a strategic area for the country's development goals. Internet penetration is high, even in remote villages I saw internet cafes and "GameOnline" places... I'm especially puzzled by the Army running a telecom service in a free market economy (so it's not like they are the only players, controlling what people can or can't do). Anyway, I don't really have an answer to your question - some things around here defy traditional logic ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 10:47 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Likewise here. *sigh*

Well, if they're competing fairly in the open market, the more the merrier, I suppose. I just get a little nervous when the referees throw together a team and join the tournament. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Invisible hand
by spiderman on Mon 21st Mar 2011 19:19 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Invisible hand"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

I don't think there is any conflict of interest in principle. They recognize that competition is stimulating. The advantage of having the government own the carriers is that the profits don't go through the hand of local and foreign parasites (share holders). The profits can be used to serve the population instead.
Actually, I see a conflict of interest in corporations run by private share holders. Their interest is in direct conflict with the company (both the consumers and the workers). Their only interest is to make money, with the company or elsewhere.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Mon 21st Mar 2011 23:00 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Well, I own quite a bit of stock myself (mostly in mutual funds), so I probably should take offense at your characterizing me as a "parasite". :-D

Stockholders provide capital for business expansion, and expect to earn profit commensurate with the risk that the expansion will fail. The average annual rate of return over the past 100 years (based on the S&P 500) after inflation is 6% to 7%. Not exactly usurious or abusive, IMHO - and a majority of Americans own at least some stock (bunch of parasites that we are).

One alternative is for a company to grow on a cash-only basis with a single owner. This is a great plan, IMHO, but it has disadvantages. If I owned Microsoft lock, stock, and barrel, for example, to which individual would I sell it when I wanted to do something else? And if I wanted to motivate my employees to perform at their best, what better motivation than if they own part of the company (sometimes called stock options or company stock programs). They may or may not receive an annual bonus, but they own their stock options - if the company earns a profit, their "bonus" is a sure thing!

So I suppose I disagree that I and my fellow shareholders are sponging off of the masses. We're actually financing their jobs. ;-)

Your suggested alternative is for the government to own all of the companies, bear the risks, and reap the rewards. This has some definite disadvantages, though. With a single owner, how much competition can you expect between different companies? Who will regulate their behavior (assuming we permit competition) or motivate them to take risks (if we don't)? Why would someone with a brilliant new idea invest his time and effort to build a market so that the government can profit from it?

Socialism sounds as attractive in theory as communism does, but in practice it tends to work less well - compare Taiwan and Hong Kong (capitalists) to China (formerly socialist), for example. When China decided to push for economic growth, they turned to a regulated form of capitalism, though keeping a communistic form of government. Looks like it's working pretty well to me. (You might read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_economic_reform for a reasonably objective take on this.)

All this is just my considered opinion, of course. I far prefer a carefully regulated capitalism to the alternatives, as it seems to breed a *lot* of wealth rather quickly. What I really dislike, though, is a heavily laissez-faire system that allows anonymous mega-corps like AT&T to abuse customers - and particularly when I'm unfortunate enough to be one of their customers!

Capitalism works great when underpinned by morality and generosity - and when not, IMHO, the non-invisible hand of government has a duty to slap it straight again. :-D

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Invisible hand
by spiderman on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 06:56 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Invisible hand"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

Well, I own quite a bit of stock myself (mostly in mutual funds), so I probably should take offense at your characterizing me as a "parasite". :-D
Don't fool yourself. You don't own anything. You are gambling a few thousands of dollars at the stock market, that is all. The few thousands of dollars you are gambling are not enough to own anything. The guyz who are in control have billions and they get to decide what the company does. You don't decide anything. You just hope the guy who decides has the same interests as you. That is gambling. More often than not the guys who decide will use your money to screw you along with the rest of the population.
Those guyz don't work. They don't need to. They are not even aware that people work. They don't even screw you directly. They pay people to screw you. They don't even know how the people they pay do screw you.

Edited 2011-03-22 06:58 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 10:29 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

A few thousand? Hmmm...

Well, I can only testify to what I have experienced, and my investment returns have been excellent my entire life, 1982 and 2008 notwithstanding. That's why I'm able to retire young even though I've worked as a simple engineer my entire life.

Besides, corporations actually produce most of the modern conveniences I use, and when one is abusive to me, I simply choose not to use their products.

Governments, on the other hand, produce nothing and force you to "buy" their products. Do you know how rich I'd be if the US Government hadn't forced me at gunpoint to pay over a million into that uber-ponzi scheme called "social security"? If that's your idea of a well-run investment scheme... well, it would explain the "few thousand dollars" comment, at least. :-D

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Invisible hand
by Neolander on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 07:25 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Invisible hand"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Well, I also like the "cooperative" (is it also called this way in English ?) way of managing a company, where people from the company, and only them, are all shareholders, which you didn't mention. It guarantees better adequation between the needs of the company and those of shareholders, and solves the issue of shareholder's governance by enforcing that they are competent in the relevant fields and maximally close to the work being done there. What do you think about it ?

Edited 2011-03-22 07:29 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Invisible hand
by ricegf on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 11:00 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Invisible hand"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

+1... except, when you want to sell your stock, you have a really limited pool of investors as customers. That will tend to greatly depress stock prices, and like most parasites (ahem) I'm very fond of stock that I can sell at a profit. It will also make mutual funds extremely inconvenient if not impossible to create and manage. Well, I'm down to +1/2 and still thinking... :-)

And I don't think it would solve the problem. As with stock ownership programs today, the lion's share will go to the executive suites, so the line and professional workers will still have limited proxies by which to direct the company.

You could argue that's a feature, by the way - you'd like to think the executive suite has a better long-range business vision than a brilliant technical guy like myself (ahem), although the past 3 years haven't exactly provided good supporting evidence. :-D

But it's a thought-provoking idea. It'll probably take me a few months to think through even the more obvious implications. Reality is so annoyingly complex...

Reply Score: 2

Tethering
by 3rdalbum on Mon 21st Mar 2011 10:52 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

I'm sorry, but if you've gone on a contract with a mobile phone carrier who charges extra for tethering... then you've already been made a fool of.

In Australia, no carrier charges an additional fee for tethering. My carrier even told me that it was fine to put my phone SIM into a modem, and happily gave me the settings required.

Reply Score: 3

Great News
by wocowboy on Mon 21st Mar 2011 11:27 UTC
wocowboy
Member since:
2006-06-01

I think this is great news. I am an AT&T customer with an iPhone, which does not work in the small town where I live. They have terrible coverage here and have refused to build the necessary tower here to cover my small town. T-Mobile, on the other hand, has great coverage here with towers all over the county, but AT&T cannot roam on their system. So on a purely coverage basis, this will be great for me and the people here. Neither AT&T or T-Mobile has 3G or 4G coverage anywhere in my part of the state, so I will not be holding my breath on that part of the deal. The closest 3G is 35 miles away and the closest 4G is T-Mobile and 100 miles away.

Reply Score: 1

Not good for T-Mobile...
by Fennec_Fox on Mon 21st Mar 2011 12:35 UTC
Fennec_Fox
Member since:
2006-10-30

Well, being Canadian, it doesn't affect me directly. However, talking to about half a dozen buddies of mine, who are on a T-Mobile now, AT&T will likely NOT get the customer base they are after. Every person I talked to is adamant on dumping T-Mobile the moment the deal is approved, and go with a small regional carrier... In short - they are willing to put up with some inconveniences to avoid falling into AT&T big hairy arms again... T-Mobile will lose customers, and AT&T will not be getting them back, by the looks of it...

Reply Score: 2

Break away
by latreides on Mon 21st Mar 2011 13:15 UTC
latreides
Member since:
2011-03-20

Part of the "deal" that I signed a contract with TMobile for was TMobile customer service. This may seem like a no brainier, but its at least 50% of the reason I switched from AT&T and signed up with them. If they take away a feature (TMobile customer service) and exchange it for another (AT&T...I hesitate to call it customer service...) is this grounds for terminating my contract without an ETF?

Instead of my longstanding username, they wanted my landline phone number. Unfortunately, both their website and their telephone support bots insist the phone number printed on my AT&T bill isn't an AT&T number.

I have had this same issue with AT&T and an "invalid" phone number on my bill (we have AT&T DSL), the website and automated customer service tell you (even for DSL) to use the number on my bill (the same number I have used many times before) however their (new?) online system claims that because it begins with a zero, it is an invalid number, it took hours to finally be able to pay my bill.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Break away
by ricegf on Tue 22nd Mar 2011 02:50 UTC in reply to "Break away"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

I know you'll be shocked, but the contract you signed with T-Mobile was almost certainly heavily biased in favor of T-Mobile, and is almost certainly transferable by them but not by you.

So, how much time will you get to "enjoy" AT&T's version of Dante's Inferno?

Reply Score: 2

I LOVE the girl they have.
by jefro on Mon 21st Mar 2011 19:33 UTC
jefro
Member since:
2007-04-13

Hope they keep the T-Mobile girl.

Stuff like this is some accounting deal. ATT needs something they have and it was cheaper to buy the entire company than try to re-create it. In a few years they will sell off what they don't want.

Reply Score: 1