Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Sep 2011 21:57 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless In the US wireless market, AT&T is currently attempting to buy T-Mobile to create one heck of a behemoth wireless provider. While earlier this week the US government already filed a lawsuit to block the merger, citing antitrust concerns, US carrier Sprint has now also filed a lawsuit to block the merger.
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RE[4]: So ...
by kaiwai on Thu 8th Sep 2011 03:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: So ..."
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This is why having more than one option for a GSM carrier is important in this country. I can easily get unlocked GSM phones, and good ones at that. Unlocked phones are not by any means illegal here. True, they're not subsidized, but that's okay by me since it also means the carrier can't try to force me into a ridiculously-priced plan just because I have a certain phone (iPhone plans, anyone?). An added benefit is that I'm not forced to buy a phone loaded down with carrier bloatware.

You can get subsidised phones here in NZ which are unlocked but you're signed into a contract meaning until you get out of that contract you'll have to keep paying for the service (even if you remove the SIM and use another carrier). Many times you'll see carriers go "bring your phone to our service and we'll give you a $200 credit". I know in the case of Vodafone I got a $150 credit on my account when bought a phone full price and then signed up for a contract.

The problem is carriers in the US are trying to claim that unless they lock the phones they'll have to charge full price (thus 'consumers lose' - yes they do actually use that argument when there is a inquiry by the US government into the mobile phone market) which is a load of crap - if you want to offer subsidises on phones you do it via contract with the only real 'losers' are people who want prepaid (but even then prepaid phones in NZ sit around $100 for a middle of the road cheap phone).

The trouble with the non-GSM carriers here is twofold. First, they do not use SIM cards, not because CDMA can't have sims but because it's a way for them to lock you in. More importantly though, the two CDMA providers (Verizon and Sprint) use a completely different CDMA frequency and I don't know of any CDMA phone on the market that will handle both. Even if you could get an unlocked CDMA phone, therefore, you're still going to be stuck with only one carrier that'll work with the phone you've bought. In our fucked up CDMA arena, it wouldn't make one bit of difference if we could buy unlocked devices or not, except for allowing you to buy phones with out carrier crapware.

Even so there is the issue of frequency in the case of GSM where in NZ we have two WCDMA vendors, Vodafone operates on the 900/2100 and Telecom NZ on 850/2100 - there needs to be a law that forces mobile handset vendors to support minimum of x number of frequencies if they're to be sold in a particular country and maybe go one step further and also demand that these handset vendor sell directly to consumers unsubsidised unbranded versions of their phones so that there is choice beyond having to go into a retail shop.

Yeah, although some of them are finally beginning to drop that. None of the major nation-wide ones, sadly.

It always amazes me how these carriers could get away for it for so long - I remember back in the day when I was paying $1.90 per minute through BellSouth NZ (before it was bought out by Vodafone) then gradually over several years of competition the price got below a dollar.

If you're referring to the iPhone, you can blame Apple for that. No one held a gun to their corporate collective head and forced them to give AT&T exclusivity, and there's nothing stopping them from selling them unlocked now that said agreement is over. They still choose not to though. It doesn't make sense to me, but I suppose that's why I'm not a corporate bigwig and never want to be.

It is strange given that in New Zealand I can purchase the iPhone directly from Apple (or one of the many Apple resellers), got to Telecom (Vodafone is Apple's official launch partner in NZ and Australia) and purchase one of those micro-sim's without too many hassles. Why was there this arrangement with AT&T? I have a feeling that it has to do more with Americans used to having heavily subsidised phones (and unwillingness to pay full price for phones) and carriers unwilling to subsidise the phones unless it is exclusive to their network. In a perfect world carriers would compete on who has the best service rather than holding customers hostage to, "well, if you really want that phone you only have one option".

Um, they do? I don't think most of the Americans on this forum thing anything's fine and dandy about this. Now, the average non-technically-inclined American that's been dumbed down by tv is quite another story, but something tells me that you won't find many of those morons here. Be careful not to stereotype too much. That's just what we "average Americans" get accused of doing, after all. ;)

True but at the same time though the status quo has been this way for many decades with no ground swell of movement by the masses to demanding a real competitive marketplace rather than the entrenched network of walled gardens where people are sucked in by subsidised handsets then raped without mercy by the carrier with crappy service and high fees to leave. I know one shouldn't stereotype but my stereotype was based on Joe and Jane Sixpack on main street rather than the technologically savvy people on this forum.

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