FCC finds lack of 'effective competition' in US wireless industry

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 72
    cxc273cxc273 Posts: 46member
    Better late than never, I suppose.



    I can't believe the things that the wireless industry gets away with in this country. The government really needs to address the following problems:



    - Texting: As a lot of other people have pointed out, sending text messages costs carriers next to nothing, but the public is forced to either pay for a messaging plan or a ludicrous amount of money per text. Given the cost of voice and data plans today, text messaging should be free.



    - ETFs: If AT&T and Verizon are going to charge $300 or more to allow a customer to terminate a contract early, then the customer who stays with the carrier should get something in return. Carriers justify ETFs as a way to make sure that the subsidy they've paid for the customer's iPhone, HTC Incredible or Motorola Droid isn't lost if the customer leaves before the term of the contract. Fair enough, but if the point of paying let's say, $80 per month, for a smartphone with a voice and data plan is to help pay for the cost of the phone over a two-year contract, shouldn't the customer a) get a lower voice/data rate once the contract terms have be fulfilled; and b) the phone be automatically unlocked, now that it is the customer's property?



    - Exclusivity: I don't believe exclusivity should be outlawed, but I do think there should be some limits, much like how drug manufacturers receive a patent on a drug for a certain number of years. Once the patent expires, it opens the way for generics, which are much more affordable to the general public. In terms of cell phone exclusivity, I believe a maximum of two years is fair enough for exclusivity. I think there should be a law mandating that after a two-year window of exclusivity, a phone must be available to all other major carriers.



    Frankly, I think the only industries that might be worse in terms of nickel-and-diming customers are the banks and the airlines.



    I think the American model of getting a subsidized phone with a two-year contract is terrible. Even though it's more expensive up front, I prefer the European model where you buy your phone and then look for a service provider.
  • Reply 22 of 72
    bongobongo Posts: 158member
    Hi,

    may I ask what you're paying for sending and receiving text messages?

    I'm from Europe so I don't know.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


    Bingo! My biggest complaint is an $100+ iPhone bill every month. It's too much!



    WHaT!?!?
  • Reply 23 of 72
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,608member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wtbard View Post


    I think there is wireless competition, but suspect that it is muted by government regulation. I wonder if the FCC thinks more regulation is the solution.



    There are two viable paths:regulate the established (and natural) monopolies, or to completely de-regulate to lower the barriers to entry.



    For the former to work, you must manage the influence the monopolies can push onto the regulators.



    For the latter, you still have to overcome many natural monopoly issues-- spectrum, antenna locations, compatibility, digging up streets, etc.



    The regulations aren't just federal, they are state, city, and neighborhood as well. Either solution requires full cooperation by all agencies. Currently the biggest hurdles appear to be at a local level.



    Regulation offers simple solutions: de-couple wireless backbone from retail service and create a wholesale market. Make all the retail players MVNOs, and provide (regulated) competitive rates for backbone service.
  • Reply 24 of 72
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,659member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post


    All it takes is a few phone calls between the CEOs of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and whoever else. Something like this: "Hey, we're competitors, but it's to our mutual benefit to keep monthly rates high. How about we all raise prices by 10% in the next few months. I'll go first, you go next, and the other guys will follow."



    It doesn't even take that. All it really takes, especially in an industry where there are only a handful of players, is for each of them to realize that it's best for them if they avoid competing in certain areas.



    Take SMS costs, for example. This is a service on which they make a lot of money. Competing on cost for SMS messages therefore, cuts sharply into their revenue. It's entirely plausable that each company will come to this realization independently and a tacit rule forms that they don't compete on the basis of SMS costs. As long as no one "cheats" and starts offering cheap SMS plans, a status quo that they are all happy with develops and the likelihood that they will ever compete on that basis decreases over time.



    The same applies to ETFs, and here and with SMS, we actually see costs go up over time as they "signal" to each other that it's "safe" to raise these fees. A similar situation also exists in the airline industry. As long as the all "hang together" fees and rates go steadily up.



    It's particularly easy for wireless carriers in the US to operate like this as they have for years employed strategies like incompatible networks, locked phones, etc. to further lock customers in. The only way this is ever going to change is a) the government steps in with strict regulation to curb abuses or b) a major new player or event disrupts the industry by breaking all the tacit rules of competition, at which point, it costs each individual player more in lost revenue that cutting prices. Option (b) seems unlikely.
  • Reply 25 of 72
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,022member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


    Bingo! My biggest complaint is an $100+ iPhone bill every month. It's too much!



    no one said you have to pay that much, if you can not afford it or do not want to afford it get rid of the iphone and get a basic cell phone for $29/months and pay per minute. If you want premium products you have to pay the price.
  • Reply 26 of 72
    ilogicilogic Posts: 298member
    Voip!!!! I want voip!!!!
  • Reply 27 of 72
    sky kingsky king Posts: 189member
    How sad that most posters seem to want the government to get its fingers into wireless. PErhaps they are too young to remember that it was government intervention and regulation that led to abysmal service by and the ultimate failure of landlines.



    We have made marvelous advances in wireless technology precisely because it evolved so fast that the government never got around to regulating it....YET.



    Please remember that the government regulators, and most members of Congress for that matter, have never produced anything, started or owned a business, invented anything, or even held a real job where profit was essential. These are people who lie in the government trough rather than getting out and actually producing anything that anyone would like to spend money on.



    And these are the people you want to regulate wireless?



    I am sad for America.
  • Reply 28 of 72
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    So should everything really though. The same argument (that a text is just a tiny snippet of data that shouldn't have a huge extra charge), could be made about every "product" the carriers "sell." Phone calls, even long distance phone calls, are just data and the amount of data is minuscule compared to downloading a movie or listening to Internet radio etc.



    Actually voice and data are two different things. Voice is a continuous higher quality data stream, not server requests of packets. Voice takes priority over data. If voice gets interrupted by some interference, you get disconnected. When a web page loading gets disconnected it just tries again until it can finish the page load. When a tower nears peak capacity, the data is suspended first before voice calls are dropped.
  • Reply 29 of 72
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    So should everything really though. The same argument (that a text is just a tiny snippet of data that shouldn't have a huge extra charge), could be made about every "product" the carriers "sell." Phone calls, even long distance phone calls, are just data and the amount of data is minuscule compared to downloading a movie or listening to Internet radio etc.



    From what I understand, text messaging piggybacks on the signals that phones and towers send out regularly anyway just to keep aware of location. The end result is that there is no extra bandwith cost to the providers to tack in these puny text messages. This is not true of voice, data or SMS where a new line of communication between phone and tower must be opened.



    If this is correct (and I am only going by what I read somewhere a year ago so correct me if you know of such things) then the fees charged for texting are particularly egregious.
  • Reply 30 of 72
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,659member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Sky King View Post


    How sad that most posters seem to want the government to get its fingers into wireless. PErhaps they are too young to remember that it was government intervention and regulation that led to abysmal service by and the ultimate failure of landlines.



    Perhaps you are too young to remember that it was the AT&T monopoly that led to these things. Exactly the opposite of the government regulating an industry to insure a) a high level of competition, and b) that industry practices develop in ways beneficial to consumers.
  • Reply 31 of 72
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,659member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post


    From what I understand, text messaging piggybacks on the signals that phones and towers send out regularly anyway just to keep aware of location. The end result is that there is no extra bandwith cost to the providers to tack in these puny text messages. This is not true of voice, data or SMS where a new line of communication between phone and tower must be opened.



    If this is correct (and I am only going by what I read somewhere a year ago so correct me if you know of such things) then the fees charged for texting are particularly egregious.



    Well, although it's clear that the carriers rake in enormous revenues from SMS, and even though there is no "bandwidth cost", there is still the cost of back-end infrastructure to support SMS.
  • Reply 32 of 72
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Well, although it's clear that the carriers rake in enormous revenues from SMS, and even though there is no "bandwidth cost", there is still the cost of back-end infrastructure to support SMS.



    Sure but the bulk rate is between 1-3 cents per message. At the retail consumer level it is 20 cents. That is a huge mark up.
  • Reply 33 of 72
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,659member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Sure but the bulk rate is between 1-3 cents per message. At the retail consumer level it is 20 cents. That is a huge mark up.



    Oh, I'm not trying to argue they aren't price gouging. Just pointing out that it's not completely free for them to transmit them. (I remember when tekstud argued there was no infrastructure and the SMS just went magically from one phone to another.)
  • Reply 34 of 72
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,350member
    Lesee. Incompatible networks and incompatible phones. Incomplete coverage for every network.



    It's like they are all their own little, crappy, monopolies.



    I think the feds should force them to have a national standard for cell phones, combine all their networks, and thus allow all phones to work on all networks. it might take a few years, but there you have it.
  • Reply 35 of 72
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Oh, I'm not trying to argue they aren't price gouging. Just pointing out that it's not completely free for them to transmit them. (I remember when tekstud argued there was no infrastructure and the SMS just went magically from one phone to another.)



    Yeah I remember that. That was one time he was speechless. No way to spin that one.
  • Reply 36 of 72
    iguesssoiguessso Posts: 132member
    What's really needed is for either Google or Apple to make a serious commitment to VOIP and reduce the big four to what they really should be - just an ISP.



    iTouch with proper bluetooth handsfree protocol + the iPad $30 data plan = nirvana.



    If you hate VOIP, I'm sure they could give you the option to buy an expensive voice plan as an add-on to your data plan.
  • Reply 37 of 72
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 665member
    At least one member of the comission lives up to her name - Meredith ATTwell
  • Reply 38 of 72
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Where were the regulators 20 years ago? They should have agreed on a single wireless standard with a standard set of frequencies then.



    Maybe things will be better once everyone eventually moves to LTE.
  • Reply 39 of 72
    stevegmustevegmu Posts: 539member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post


    Lesee. Incompatible networks and incompatible phones. Incomplete coverage for every network.



    It's like they are all their own little, crappy, monopolies.



    I think the feds should force them to have a national standard for cell phones, combine all their networks, and thus allow all phones to work on all networks. it might take a few years, but there you have it.



    That would cost $billions. Are you willing to pay 2-3x what you pay now to cover the cost of the conversion, or should the taxpayers just foot the bill?
  • Reply 40 of 72
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,659member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stevegmu View Post


    That would cost $billions. Are you willing to pay 2-3x what you pay now to cover the cost of the conversion, or should the taxpayers just foot the bill?



    Please tell us how you arrived at the "2-3x what you pay now" cost estimate.
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