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[5]: So ...
by darknexus on Thu 8th Sep 2011 11:57 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: So ..."
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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.

Okay, that's awesome. Are they able to force you into a specific plan if you want them to subsidize it?

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).

What really sucks about this is the fact that, even if you don't buy your phone from the carrier and it's not subsidized, if you want service on any of the major carriers you have to sign into at least a two year contract anyway. Personally, I hate contracts. My view is that if you're so certain of the awesomeness of your service, you don't need to hold me hostage. Of course, all the cel carriers hear suck giant hairy donkey balls, and they're probably not as confident about their service as they claim.

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.

Not a bad idea. The reason I brought it up with CDMA though is that I've not found any CDMA phone that supports both sets of frequencies, where as I can think of several GSM phones off the top of my head that are true quad-band GSM/WCDMA/HSDPA and will fully work on any carrier regardless of the frequency set it uses.

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.

No argument from me. The cel market hasn't benefitted from competition in the same way that our land line market did. I think the only reason they do get away with it is that most of the average joe's in this country think the world ends outside our boarders and have no idea how much they're getting gangraped as compared to other countries. I've asked people why they're willing to pay so much and their answers are usually along the lines of "Well, that's just how it's always been." The really fucked up thing is that people have become so phone-obsessed lately that they'll sacrifice actual necessities to have the latest smartphones when they don't need them. You don't need a smartphone if all you do is call and text, but people get them for the shiny factor and I'm not just referring to iPhones either. Before you ask, I do use a smartphone, but then again I do a lot more than call and text with it.

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".

Honestly, I suspect that Apple didn't really know what to do when entering this market. They were new to it, they just wanted to get their product out there, and AT&T was the only carrier that would let Apple have their way as far as the software (no custom firmware images, etc). What does an unlocked iPhone cost over there? To get one imported here (a true factory unlock, not a jailbreak/ultrasn0w unlock) usually will run you at least $800 USD for the current generation which, even at Apple prices, is way too much for a smartphone, especially one that isn't top of the line. Further, if you do import it, you'll get no warranty on it. As I said, I've no idea why Apple won't just sell the things directly now that their agreement has expired. As far as I know, there's nothing stopping them. Then again, most of Apple's decisions these days have left me wondering if they don't have some drunken monkeys on the board.

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