TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: A Call to Let Your Phone Loose

Re: A Call to Let Your Phone Loose
12 Feb 2007 20:08:49 -0800

Charles Babington wrote:

> Telecom's New Battleground: Carriers' Proprietary Controls

> Now, a growing number of academics
> and consumer activists say it's time to deliver a similar
> ground-breaking jolt to the cellphone industry, possibly triggering a
> new round of customer options and technical innovations to rival the
> one that produced faxes, modems and the Internet.

Let's be clear that faxes and modems existed before 1968. Few
computers before 1968 had the capability of real-time conversation the
way the Internet operates, but there certainly were computer networks.
The technology explosion occured because of the perfection of low-cost
integrated circuits and the invention of the microprocessor.

The telephone system uses lots of electronics. Cheap electronics make
telephony cheap.

The ability to own equipment was an economic change in the way
telephone service was paid for, a change in cross subsidization.
Today we consumers pay more for POTS as a result.

> Wireless carriers, which limit what customers may do with their
> phones, say the move is unnecessary and potentially harmful. But in
> articles, blogs and speeches, a number of researchers are asking why
> the companies are allowed to force consumers to buy new handsets when
> they change carriers; pay a specified carrier to transfer photos from
> a camera phone; or download ringtones or music from one provider only.

The answer is simple: It is profitable for wireless companies to
charge that way.

> "At some point, I think Americans are going to put their foot down and
> say, 'We won't tolerate this anymore,' "

I have no love for the wireless companies, but the American consumer
has been extremely tolerant of paying rather high prices for wireless
service -- because they want it and want it badly. No matter how much
Daddy screams (and trust me, they are screaming a lot), teen son and
daughter will text constantly regardless of the cost. (No different
than my day in burning up message units).

I ask people what their service cost. They don't know or don't want
to know. It's easy $100 or more. So it goes.

I do NOT expect the consumer to protest against the present situation.

> "Wireless is a competitive industry and consumers enjoy the greatest
> number of choices among services, devices, calling plans and coverage
> areas in the entire telecom industry,"

I don't agree with that. I'd call it an oligopoly, a few major
providers. It seems to me most plans are essentially the same.

> "This paper has the potential to become a huge telecommunications
> issue,"

Please forgive my cynicism, but it seems every technology article
makes that claim.

> "People now don't understand how limited they are in what
> they can do with their cellphones. This is a totally ripe issue."

There is also a limit of what people NEED to do. My word processing
could help me write the Encyclopedia Britannica if I so choose. Too
bad I used it to write short notes to the electric company.

Automobiles used to come with 400 horsepower and C.U. engines. Kind
of wasteful for a drive to the corner drugstore for cigarettes. Same
with a cell phone. At some point usage reaches a saturation point:
"Hi, I'm at the store. What do you want for dinner?" How many
special features do you need for such calls?

Let's not forget when ESS first came out there were a variety of
special features that simply didn't take off.

> "This whole issue is a giant red herring," said AT&T spokesman Mark
> Siegel. "This is a fiercely competitive industry," which has grown
> "almost entirely through the force of competition in the marketplace,
> more innovative devices and services, and continually lower prices."

Lower prices? My cell phone was free -- given to me by the carrier --
and service is $20/ month. To replace it, I'd have to now buy a new
phone and pay $40 a month for the same level of service.

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