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[3]: So ...
by darknexus on Wed 7th Sep 2011 20:45 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So ..."
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

It won't matter a single iota until there is a banning of locked phones and you can purchase then outside of the wall garden that the mobile phone companies operate inside the United States.


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.
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.
It truly is amazing when I see how the mobile phone companies operate in the US; if they're not raping you by charging the receiving party for a phone call or text message


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

they're turning around and locking off your ability to purchase a phone on the market and then select the carrier with the two choices being independent of each other.

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.

Good lord, don't get me started on coverage - the last thing the US needs is an even more fragmented marketplace. Like I've said, looking at the US is like watching New Zealand and Australia from 15 years ago - its a really bad joke but the average American on this forum thinks (to quote George Carlin) "everything is fine and f-cking dandy!".


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. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: So ...
by kaiwai on Thu 8th Sep 2011 03:46 in reply to "RE[3]: So ..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

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.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: So ...
by darknexus on Thu 8th Sep 2011 11:57 in reply to "RE[4]: So ..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

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.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: So ...
by tidux on Thu 8th Sep 2011 14:28 in reply to "RE[4]: So ..."
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

The problem is that with the decline of our education system and the anti-intellectual tendencies of a good 45% of the country, people just don't understand how badly they're getting taken advantage of. Personally, I have the shell of an idea for a bill to fix this at a federal level (by sending it to one of my senators, who's still a decent person).

My name for it is the Fairness In Telephony (FIT) Act, because everything has to have a catchy name these days. Here's the basics:

1. require all cellular telephone companies to have a single protocol and frequency set, ideally GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSPA/LTE on the standard GSM quad-band frequencies

2. ban roaming fees for any possible use of the phone, including but not limited to voice, sms, mms, and data

3. given that cellular devices are the primary internet connection for some households, mandate the presence of a completely unlimited, unthrottled everything plan, for at most $80 per month in 2011 dollars - Sprint's already doing this and still turning a profit, so there's proof that it can be done

4. ban carrier-locked phones

5. ban locked bootloaders and phones that need to be cracked to give admin/root access - there's no good reason, since the dumb users won't mess with it anyways and it makes us hackers happy, but the telcos have demanded the locked-down phones anyways

Basically, if they're going to act like an oligopoly, force interoperability and user freedom. I'd throw in a bit about requiring all phone OSes to be Free Software, but that's just not going to happen in this climate.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: So ...
by dcbw on Fri 9th Sep 2011 00:00 in reply to "RE[3]: So ..."
dcbw Member since:
2006-08-31

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.


Wrong. All CDMA phones on sale in the United States (and likely Canada) support both 850MHz and 1900MHz which Sprint, Verizon, US Cellular and others use. Only a few phones support the 1700MHz (AWS) CDMA frequency that Cricket uses, but those phones also support 850MHz and 1900MHz.

Sprint almost exclusively runs CDMA 1x and EVDO on 1900MHz, while Verizon runs CDMA 1x on 850MHz and 1900 MHz, and EVDO almost exclusively on 1900MHz. US Cellular is mostly an 850MHz carrier with some 1900MHz spectrum. Every CDMA phone sold in the US has support for both frequencies.

All CDMA phones in the US are capable of roaming between Sprint and Verizon and US Cellular. It's only inter-provider agreements (and the Preferred Roaming Lists built into each CDMA handset) that limit roaming. It has nothing to do with radio frequency limitations.

Reply Parent Score: 1