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178 comments

Riiight (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334428)

Maybe someone at the FCC does read Slashdot

Or they read New York Times, which Slashdot quoted in the said article.

Re:Riiight (3, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334680)

Honestly members of the FCC are totally the type of people that would read /. I don't think it would be that shocking if a few of them read /..

Re:Riiight (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334878)

Slashdot is nice in that in condenses news articles from hundreds of sources. It is quite possible that there is someone in the FCC that reads /. It is also possible that said person does not read the NYT.

Re:Riiight (1)

Bourdain (683477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334934)

or that anyone in the government reads at all :)

Re:Riiight (2, Interesting)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335550)

Well maybe and maybe not however there are a lot of government contractors and as a former one, I'd read slashdot and pass along interesting information to my contacts who, most of the time had already read it.

[John]

Just a letter? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334456)

Letters aren't going to do a damn thing to stop the abuses of the communication corporations.

Re:Just a letter? (4, Insightful)

Dumnezeu (1673634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334498)

Maybe letters from you don't work, but letters from the FCC usually work. I've had a problem with a bank once, I wrote them and they completely ignored me. After 30 days, I've asked for help from a governmental organization, they wrote to the bank and a couple of days letter I had my answer AND the problem was fixed thanks to a simple inquiry sent by the right person/organization.

Re:Just a letter? (2, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334690)

It is often helpful to ask your lawyer if he'll write letters for you when dealing with companies/institutions. They see the legal letterhead and go hmmmmmm it'll be way easier to just fix this. If you are specific and just need a letter it is generally quite cheap.

Re:Just a letter? (1)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335060)

which is nice if you have a lawyer friend or an attorney on retainer...wheres the poll on /., id love to see how many people actually pay for that, or would be willing to spend the money to have a lawyer do such a thing.

Compare to cease and desist notices (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334500)

The FCC gave Verizon two weeks to reply. And when a government entity or a large company sends someone a letter as serious as this, it usually has a statement to the effect "We'll take your silence to imply refusal to cooperate. If push comes to shove, we will take it to court."

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334544)

The threat of litigation doesn't mean as much as it used to. It costs the gov the same $$ go send lawyers, do depositions, get into discovery, try and settle, then go to trial as it does the plaintiff (Verizon in this case).

That said, at least Obama's regime is doing something visible about outrageous telco behavior. The prior regime would have done a thumbs-up to Verizon.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334572)

That said, at least Obama's regime is doing something visible about outrageous telco behavior

There's a lot that Verizon does that's outrageous but does this really fall into that category? I've always found it absurd that they charge the same ETF for a el-cheapo no-frills candy bar phone as they do for a top of the line smartphone. If the theory behind the ETF is the amount of money they front to subsidize your device then shouldn't it stand to reason that the ETF should change according to the value of the device that you receive?

In any event, I think it would be a better use of the FCC's limited time and resources if they were to hold Verizon to it's promise to open up their network. That promise was made almost two years ago as I recall. Where's my market in non-carrier branded devices for the Verizon network?

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334590)

... If the theory behind the ETF is the amount of money they front to subsidize your device then shouldn't it stand to reason that the ETF should change according to the value of the device that you receive?

Absolutely not! If they were to do that then someone might actually become curious as to the actual cost of the phones to Verizon. Then the fecal material would really impact the rotary air circulation mechanism.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334612)

One step at a time. You won't get a uniform behavior code out of the bribed (oops, campaign-contributed/heavily lobbied) congress, so heavy breathing down their neck is at least a start.

iDon't have AT&T. (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334626)

I think it would be a better use of the FCC's limited time and resources if they were to hold Verizon to it's promise to open up their network.

Verizon already started to cover that with the DROID DOES campaign. But even if you agree with Verizon's ETF practices, I still commend the FCC for looking into the problem of making the "bill me $1.99 for browsing the web" button so easy to accidentally press.

Re:iDon't have AT&T. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334688)

I still commend the FCC for looking into the problem of making the "bill me $1.99 for browsing the web" button so easy to accidentally press.

Indeed... My brother's phone signed him up for a monthly service while it was in his pocket. When I called to speak with customer service (the phone is in my name), the girl insisted it could not have done so because there are too many acceptance screens. Smart phone, I'd say, because that is just what happened. My brother had no idea until I told him about the charge on the bill. Customer service cancelled the service, but this isn't the first time my brother's been charged for online access or music downloads, or whatever.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (2, Informative)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334906)

Yes, the ETF should change depending on what device. But that isn`t the only problem. The FCC found that even when staying in contract for 23 of 24 months the ETF was only lowered to $120, when it should be much lower after that duration.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336434)

If the theory behind the ETF is the amount of money they front to subsidize your device then shouldn't it stand to reason that the ETF should change according to the value of the device that you receive?

Yes it does but..
I think the questions the FCC asked would answer both questions about the "cheap" and "advanced phones". Most of the question the FCC asked in the EFT section seem to pertain to how EFT values are reached in general, not just with the advanced devices. I think a thorough answer to that would answer about both/all tiers of phones. If Verizon claims the EFT is based on value, everyone including the FCC could infer that they are over charging for the cheap phones.

I see the subsidizing of phones and the non governmental surcharges that all providers add on as a pure scam to hide the real price. If every single service plan has a non governmental tax added on (like a surcharge or cost recovery fee) than the it should be included in the published price. That 39.99 plan should really be a $43.76 plan and published that way. Similar to a car dealer that charges EVERYONE a $395 doc processing fee for every car sold. Take that concept to the extremes and you can see the problem. What if the mandatory doc fee was $9999 on all new cars and they advertised the price was published as only $3000? It is still $12999 and should be noted as such.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (1)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334744)

No it doesn't, because government lawyers are paid much less than corporate defense attorneys.

A GS-13 attorney (mid-level; next step up would be supervisory) costs the government $45 per hour, assuming the attorney doesn't work more than their 80 hours per pay period. A similarly experienced corporate defense attorney's billable rate per hour would be about an order of magnitude higher.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (1)

gravesb (967413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335264)

Government attorneys are sunk costs and not paid by the hour. There are opportunity costs to suing someone, but there is negligible outlay of additional funds.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335448)

That depends a lot on where they are. Beyond simply the GS-13 base pay scale, there are locality adjustments made and someone in or near DC might actually make a lot more than $45. Consider too, if they're not in trial they're working probably just their 40 hours doing administrative/inquiry stuff.

Send them to trial and you get to pay them for 60+ hours weekly, which costs you $67 per hour plus they accrue sick leave and vacation faster. OT is expensive.

Technically, they are salary non-exempt. They get paid for 40 whether they're sick, on vacation or can't make it to work. But if they go over 40, they get paid OT for it.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335564)

Also keep in mind that the corporate lawyer's billable per hour doesn't reflect what that lawyer actually gets paid. Out of those billable hours has to come payment for support staff, plant overhead, liability insurance, some juice for the partners, etc. A lawyer billing out at $200/hour is seeing much much less than that, and as noted elsewhere, doesn't get paid for overtime.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (2, Interesting)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334568)

Sometimes, perhaps.

Sometimes, though it just makes the company sending the letter look uninformed and foolish. If you would like to see an example of a foolish letter being sent, you can always read the Foolish Cease and Desist [demystify.info] letter a corporation sent to me a few years ago.

Obviously, the sender of the above letter was making such over the top threats, that it was clear they had no understanding of the legal process involved. I imagine the thought that this foolishness would become public information, never crossed their mind. In the years that have followed, tens of thousands of people have viewed that letter, and the company who wrote that has had its business practices laid out for everyone to see, and has become a running joke in the community.

But yes, in this case, the FCC probably has a little more professionalism and backbone, to see these sort of questions through.

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334960)

Maybe its just early in the morning, but your foolish letter didnt really explain why it was foolish

Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (1)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335296)

If you are serious about not knowing why it is foolish, feel free to post under your user name instead of anonymous, when you are fully awake. If you have never been exposed to the workings of the legal system in the business world, it is understandable that you may not know the details.

I would be glad to lay out the legal reasons why it is foolish to initiate legal threats against a person without evidence, or the intention of backing them up in a court of law.

You can begin by reading about the legally binding consequences of a Declaratory Judgement [wikipedia.org] as it relates to a poorly written Cease and Desist letter such as this.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334470)

Makes me glad I have AT&T. Although, having FCC care about the little man is interesting makes me wonder why they care.

One job of Government (4, Insightful)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334476)

Is to protect the people. I believe protecting us from getting screwed by gigantic corporations is just as valid as protecting us from invasion.

Re:One job of Government (3, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334510)

Is to protect the people. I believe protecting us from getting screwed by gigantic corporations is just as valid as protecting us from invasion.

/rightwing

But regulation prevents innovations like this one from verizon from getting to market! /rightwing

Re:One job of Government (2, Funny)

Sparky McGruff (747313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334624)

I'm not sure what reply their lawyers will come up with, but I believe the original draft of the reply reads:

Dearest FCC:

Why are we screwing our customers? Because we hate our customers, and we really like money. Go away.

Love, Verizon.

Re:One job of Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30335262)

Considering "Teh Gubberment" is the only reason Verizon is allowed to do have the monopoly they do, it does seem fair for them to check in from time to time.

Please stop posting sentences that start in the (1)

Dumnezeu (1673634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334516)

subject.

Re:Please stop posting sentences that start in the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334864)

subject.

shut up and RTFS!

Re:One job of Government (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335066)

You can choose to ignore Verizon. You can't choose to ignore an invading force.

Re:One job of Government (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335132)

You cannot choose to ignore Verizon; they are everywhere, and they are a fact of life. They're causing you problems right now whether you realize it or not; somewhere, someone is getting frustrated with them, and getting a little more angry, which will come out in the world you live in. They're also causing economic distress which has real-world consequences. They're probably feeling the pinch of the recession; A lot of businesses have become more sleazy of late. Well, that's not true... they're just proving their sleaziness, which was already present. After all, if you have a sleaze in charge, you're sleaze. Also let's not forget that any spectrum not in use by Verizon is available for use by someone scrupulous. (Of course, the reality is that someone else unscrupulous would end up with it; that's the nature of bandwidth auctions. The People should not have to pool their money and bid to be able to use Their Ionosphere.

Re:One job of Government (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335312)

I am not sure anyone can choose to ignore Verizon, customer or not. Plus, on a non-mobile phone related note, there are people who can't ignore Verizon at all because that's the company that provides their local phone service (and some people can't afford NOT to have a land line).

On top of that, these huge companies are so big that they create their own gravity. They are concentrations of power, and the government is supposed to counterbalance concentrations of power, whether it be a huge guy with baseball bat who extorts protection money or a huge corporation who can force money out of you in other ways.

On top of that, these corps are actively trying to limit competition, making the vote with your feet argument even weaker.

Re:One job of Government (0, Flamebait)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335094)

>protecting us from getting screwed by gigantic corporations

We're already protected - just don't have a cell phone. The problem is that people would rather sic government on big, bad corporations than inconvenience themselves by not patronizing companies they don't like. If enough of us voted with our feet it'd fix these kinds of issues. A temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement.

Re:One job of Government (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335266)

Is to protect the people. I believe protecting us from getting screwed by gigantic corporations is just as valid as protecting us from invasion.

Why do we need protection from companies whom we have to voluntarily associate with?

Re:Maybe... (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335530)

You have to realize though, that the people have much more power than the government could ever have, and it's a power that, theoretically, can be wielded much more quickly, and deal a much harder blow. The real problem is that people get too attached to their level of comfort, and use this as an excuse to avoid any effort required to restore any balance to the often tenuous relationship between producers and consumers. Yes, it's the dreaded "b" word (boycott). People hate this word because they claim it's ineffective. I don't necessarily agree. I opine that boycotts can be very effective, if they are executed properly.

Where does it say that? (1)

Darth Muffin (781947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335750)

Show me where it says anything remotely like that in the US Constitution. The only one covering your ass is you. They do have powers to regulate monopolies in interstate commerce, but until Verizon is declared one that doesn't apply.

How pleasant (2, Interesting)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334514)

I just came a little while reading that letter. Some of the questions are worded in such a deliciously "we're going to screw you to the wall" manner... I'm starting to like the FCC more and more.

Re:How pleasant (4, Insightful)

barzok (26681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334546)

This is what the FCC is supposed to be doing.

Not chasing half-second nipslips because 4 uptight housewives in Idaho get snippy about their kids seeing something they don't want them to see, after they're supposed to be in bed and asleep already.

Re:How pleasant (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334956)

Chasing half-second nip-slips is their job as well. The Superbowl is one of the most watched segments every year, and is a tradition in many families. I don't think it unreasonable in the least that young children shouldn't be exposed to breasts at all.

    Do you think it okay if a child was watching say, Saturday morning cartoons and they showed a "half-second nipslip" it would be okay? Don't get me wrong, if they made it clear that was the content, then I wouldn't want to tread on your right to view lewd T.V. But they shouldn't tread on a child's right not to view lewd T.V. As far as staying up late, how does that equate to seeing naked body parts? I am trying hard to see why you think you know best when a parent should send a child to bed, but failed to see that inappropriate content was showed when it should not have been according to the rating and is flat out wrong.

Re:How pleasant (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335226)

Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural act.

Of course, you probably didn't mean all young children.

(Really, the only reason the sight of a nipple is found disturbing is because we fetishize covering them up; that's just part of our society and I don't really care either way, but it isn't as if the very sight of a nipple is going to induce a sex drive in a 7 year old)

Re:How pleasant (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335902)

Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural act.

... but it isn't as if the very sight of a nipple is going to induce a sex drive in a 7 year old)

I agree to the first part, but disagree with the second. Kinder gardeners have had sex, and what if you are older than 7? I don't want my teenagers (if I had them) to be exposed without proper consent and warning so that a choice can be made.

Re:How pleasant (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335972)

"Induce" is the key word there. And I would guess that the children you speak of were exposed to far more than just nipples.

And really, at this point, any 12 year old that wants to see a nipple has done so.

Re:How pleasant (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336066)

Fair enough, induce. You are correct, they likely were. But we fetishize covering them up because they can and do invoke sexual reactions.

  Just because 12 year olds have seen nipples doesn't make it okay. 25% of males in 1 particular country have admitted to raping. I think you would agree 90%, or even 1 instance is not alright.

Re:How pleasant (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336170)

I'm not going to bother arguing what degree is reasonable with you (rape isn't even comparable to brief exposure of a slightly pinker circle of skin), I don't care that you disagree with me.

I will point out that the executives at CBS (and the NFL, etc.) were probably far more mortified by the incident than you were, and that the FCC didn't really need to punish them, advertisers and upset viewers were happy to do it.

Re:How pleasant (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335238)

I don't think it unreasonable in the least that young children shouldn't be exposed to breasts at all.

So you are saying you are all for starving your babies?!? :P

As far as staying up late, how does that equate to seeing naked body parts? I am trying hard to see why you think you know best when a parent should send a child to bed, but failed to see that inappropriate content was showed when it should not have been according to the rating and is flat out wrong.

Sorry, you lost your right to choose what is and is not appropriate when you fought to have that right forcibly removed from the rest of us in this country.

Re:How pleasant (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335862)

So you are saying you are all for starving your babies?!? :P

No, I am saying that I do not think it unreasonable at all that children should not be unexpectedly exposed to breasts. But you already knew that.

Sorry, you lost your right to choose what is and is not appropriate when you fought to have that right forcibly removed from the rest of us in this country.

Your statement that I "lost my right to choose" makes no sense. I did not fight to have that right forcibly removed from you, or anyone else, first of all. I haven't fought for anything for that matter. What I did do, was argue that showing titties when the show was not rated for that is inappropriate and "flat out wrong".

It does sound however, that you are fighting (or willing to, that is more than just to argue) to have my right to not be exposed removed, as well as the rest of the country's. I can respect you wanting to see titties, (but with a straight face? :p ) can you respect others rights *not* to?

  Lastly, although I disagree with your fallible arguments, (what does your not being able to see the difference in staying up late not equating to seeing nudity have to do with *my* deciding what is appropriate) you don't hear me stating you should have rights removed or *lost*. Even if I was "fighting" to have my beliefs indoctrinated, you should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting such a thing.

    But then again, being as you failed to see the difference in staying up late and nudity, you will likely again fail to see the difference in trying to preserve one's right to not be exposed and someones right to view.

    This should be clear, you have *all* rights, as long as they don't tread on mine.

Re:How pleasant (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335304)

I don't think it unreasonable in the least that young children shouldn't be exposed to breasts at all.

There seems to be a consensus that exposure of children to breasts, nay, oral contact with breasts, is healthy and extremely reasonable. We also have plenty of anecdotal evidence that parents who unreasonably shield their children from nudity and sex are likely to induce neuroses.

During infancy an aversion to delicious nipples is a grave sign requiring medical intervention; but if later your child indicates the desire to avoid being exposed to luscious breasts on TV, it is indeed the child's right not to be forced to watch. (Note that TV watching is not a right, and that breasts bulge invitingly even through clothing, so those with a phobia of being smothered in ample globes of mammary flesh would be unreasonable in expecting the world to be draped in burkas.)

Re:How pleasant (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336010)

There seems to be a consensus that exposure of children to breasts, nay, oral contact with breasts, is healthy and extremely reasonable. We also have plenty of anecdotal evidence that parents who unreasonably shield their children from nudity and sex are likely to induce neuroses.

We also have plenty of anecdotal evidence that unreasonable exposure to nudity can cause sexual disorders. Children exposed to nudity can lead to masturbation. (yes evil masturbation! :P) When a child does something they do not understand it can get ugly. Sexual disorders can derail lives.

 

...(Note that TV watching is not a right, and that breasts bulge invitingly even through clothing, so those with a phobia of being smothered in ample globes of mammary flesh would be unreasonable in expecting the world to be draped in burkas.)

How is it again that breasts bulging invitingly through clothing, makes it unreasonable that anyone would be expecting the world to be draped in burkas? This does not compute. It seems you would be arguing that burkas are the answer...

Re:How pleasant (2, Insightful)

garynuman (1666499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336110)

so wait, you're telling me that Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson grinding all over each other singing about the hardcore raunchy sex they wish they were having during the break of an American institution sponsored by beer companies where grown men hit each other in the most violent manner possible is perfectly acceptable viewing for your kids, but a few seconds of barely visible nipple (which we all have two of on our very own bodies) crosses every line of good taste and acceptability and requires government to act. This logic is a joke to me, your kid is watching my adult event, the super bowl was never meant to be a family event, its not goddamn Disney, its a bunch of corporate ticket holders and rich guys taking a few days off work to get all juiced up and watch other rich guys beat the living hell out of each other for a trophy, some rings, and more money... broadcast around the world thanks to Budwiser. Drink Budwiser... and yes, you're right, if ABC were to start showing clips of pornography during their Saturday morning cartoons that would merit some action, but that example isn't valid here, because this happened during a flipping JANET JACKSON PERFORMANCE! what, exactly, led you to think a sexually charged duet between her and goddamn Justin Timberlake would be suitable viewing for your kids? I mean the clothes that she did have on was a skintight full body leather gimp suit for the most part, correct? Oh, and MTV was producing. You had every clue in the world from the first few seconds of it it might be time to change the channel for a few minutes if you were that concerned about sheltering your children from the outside world, yet despite all of this you still insist on using the FCC as an extension of your stupidity to go on a crusade over a joke two over-privileged out of touch jackasses played on live TV... That being said I've noticed over the past more or less year there have been a lot more news stories about the FCC pursuing something interesting and good and a hell of a lot less about them trying to legislate morality on public airwaves, which makes me happy.

DURRRR (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30336156)

Your parenting is shit. Empower your children with understanding, rather than trying to give them blinders.

This will never fucking work, and we don't need more fucking uptight morons like you in the world.

Re:How pleasant (3, Interesting)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334570)

They should also make text messaging free.

That's right. I wrote free.

If you put the price of a voice call, in 3 seconds to the (stupidly) expensive $.15 per minute, and compare it to the 3 seconds it would take to send a text message, you will find it negligible: .15/60 = $.0025 per second. $.0025 * 3 seconds / 10kbps for the voice data transfer = $.00075 dollars per kilobyte (aside: $.771 dollars per megabyte).

Now let's say, for the sake of generosity, it takes a 16KB packet total, up and down for ack, all carriers, etc., to send a text message.

It would cost $0.012 by my numbers...

Draw your own conclusions, I am just playing with units.

Re:How pleasant (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334606)

that's the thing about telcos, they charge you not based on how much they need to charge you + profit margin (which is what most businesses do). instead, they just charge you however much they think they can get away with.

Re:How pleasant (4, Insightful)

hparker (41819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334646)

No. Most businesses do that. You can substitute "companies" for "telcos". That's how the free market is supposed to work.
Competition keeps the prices down, not companies being reasonable.

So the question should be: Is the telco market perhaps too controlled and not free enough?

Re:How pleasant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334652)

And idiots keep paying them their outrageous prices, for whatever reason. That's the real problem. They'd lower their prices if so many fools didn't seem it acceptable to pay $0.15 per text message.

Re:How pleasant (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334716)

Actually, that's the same as all companies try to do. Most of them don't think they can get away with much, due to competition, and they're right. Telephone companies have all set similar prices, so there's no competition.

Re:How pleasant (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335248)

well yeah, that's exactly the point. the question is why competition doesn't seem to work so well in this case.

Re:How pleasant (3, Informative)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334812)

Actually, SMS isn't quite that simple. They are (at least on GSM - I don't know for sure about other network types like modern 3G arrangements) sent out-of-band on a low traffic control channel. That is where the "140 7 bit characters" limit comes from", to fit into the maximum packet size used on that channel. You can effectively DoS a cell wrt SMS capability by sending as little as 40 messages per second.

Having said that, many price plans and offers over here offer so many text messages in the package that they are effectively free (even sometimes on PAYG). I'm sure they claw back the missing income by other means though.

Re:How pleasant (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335240)

There really isn't any reason that text messaging *must* be implemented over SMS, all of the networks are data capable, and the great majority of phones are also data capable.

Re:How pleasant (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334910)

I heard that sms packets were stuffed into some other crap the phone sends out anyways so it actually near completely free to send them. (was informed of this by a /.er months ago but i cant find the post)

Re:How pleasant (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335222)

That's not true at all, analog phones had a digital control channel which was used for purposes like this on occasion, but modern phones just send packets. It takes many packets per second to carry on a phone conversation; it takes one or two to send a text message. It's like if you charged people $10 for their connection to the ISP, then charged them twenty-five cents every time they sent an IM (SMS) and a dollar for every email (MMS) but allowed them to use voice chat for free. It's like Chewbacca living on Endor...

Re:How pleasant (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335082)

They should also make text messaging free.

That's right. I wrote free.

If you put the price of a voice call, in 3 seconds to the (stupidly) expensive $.15 per minute, and compare it to the 3 seconds it would take to send a text message, you will find it negligible: .15/60 = $.0025 per second. $.0025 * 3 seconds / 10kbps for the voice data transfer = $.00075 dollars per kilobyte (aside: $.771 dollars per megabyte).

Now let's say, for the sake of generosity, it takes a 16KB packet total, up and down for ack, all carriers, etc., to send a text message.

It would cost $0.012 by my numbers...

Draw your own conclusions, I am just playing with units.

I agree that would be awesome and something some mainstream company will hopefully do soon. I know several "local" ones have unlimited calls and text for 1 low price. The issue as I see it is that companies spend to much on marketing. Word of mouth is where it used to be at. But I guess they feel they can't compete unless they spend uber millions on marketing as well.

  Give me something like All-Tel before Verizon, with handset/application freedom and no charge for text messages, and I will be a customer for life. (provided you don't try to overcharge me.. or crap on me with service) All-Tel was the best and closet in my opinion, but then they went and sold out, literally. Maybe I can start my own company... I just wish I knew more about it than I know now, which I admit is little. But I know enough tio know it could be better, for all parties if the companies would stop shooting themselves in the foot with greed.

All US carriers suck (3, Informative)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334558)

What's funny right now is that I constantly hear from reviews, friends, and fellow iPhone users how much they think AT&T sucks and want to move to Verizon. Personally I think this is all BS, and would love some more european and canadian cell phone companies to invade the US and finally give us some real competition in this country, or at least have the FCC standup and hold our carriers more accountable and stop the mergers.

ALL the US carriers suck in general! People may think Verizon's coverage is the best, compared to AT&T, but notice how they are competing on coverage, and not dropped calls, network speed, features (you can't check email at the same time you are on a call with Verizon... anywhere, with any phone), etc. Also notice how all the services cost around $80 or so for the minimum smartphone contract. Notice how they all have sneaky overblown hidden fees. Notice how the per txt fee and monthly charge for Txtx keeps going up and up and up. Notice how their customer service is slightly below or slightly above average. Notice how they all lock you into specific phones. Notice how they all lock you into two year contracts unless you are willing to buy one of their cheapo phones for a pay as you go contract. Notice how all the cheapo phones break if you sneeze the wrong way.

Verizon is one level of shit, and AT&T is another level of shit. And we americans are forced to deal with these levels of shit, and we go around saying one is so much greater than the other.

Re:All US carriers suck (3, Insightful)

psychokitten (819123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334658)

They did invade here - and all we got out of it was T-Mobile - you know, 7th largest mobile operator in the world? They settled into the American Way of cellphone service so readily it's hard to remember they're a multinational.

Re:All US carriers suck (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334702)

you want canadian cell companies to compete in the u.s.? have you looked at canadian cell plans? you think you're getting a fuzzy lollipop? check this out:

from bell.ca
100 local minutes plus 50 bonus local minutes Local Fab Five: Unlimited calling & text Unlimited night & weekend (9 p.m. - 7 a.m.) local calling
Minimum monthly fee
$30.00

and there are no unlimited talk plans and a 3 year contract besides.

and if you want a smart phone it is 50$ for 1 gb of data. and there is no unlimited data.

now what were you complaining about again?

Re:All US carriers suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334742)

Verizon does have less dropped calls than AT&T and is more reliable. You have but to check any 3rd party source to verify this. Their network and customer care is superior by a wide margin. Its not the network quality but the issue of the early terminations fees thats the issue. Also, Verizon wireless is owned by Vodaphone and T-mobile is owned by Deutsch Telecom. so we do have these fantastic European companies here you whine so much about.

Re:All US carriers suck (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334880)

"love some more european and canadian cell phone companies to invade the US"

European maybe, but you don't want to be subject to Canadian cell phone companies. We look at what you guys have with envy. Until the introduction of the iPhone it was cheaper to get a phone with a US carrier and then pay roaming charges in Canada than it was to just get a data plan here. Nation wide long distance? Sure, for $20 a month, and if you go outside our service area it doesn't count.

Canadian cell phone companies are so bad that they've all started up (or bought) alias companies so they can do business under a name that's not quite so reviled.

Re:All US carriers suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30335128)

Personally I think this is all BS, and would love some more european and canadian cell phone companies to invade the US and finally give us some real competition in this country, or at least have the FCC standup and hold our carriers more accountable and stop the mergers.

ALL the US carriers suck in general! Also notice how all the services cost around $80 or so for the minimum smartphone contract. Notice how they all have sneaky overblown hidden fees. Notice how the per txt fee and monthly charge for Txtx keeps going up and up and up. Notice how their customer service is slightly below or slightly above average. Notice how they all lock you into specific phones. Notice how they all lock you into two year contracts unless you are willing to buy one of their cheapo phones for a pay as you go contract.

As a Canadian resident with Canadian cell service who has worked with American cell phone companies for a number of years in the past, I must say you dont know how good you have it. I look at plans and services offered by companies in the US with envy.

Are you lagging behind Europe? Agreed. But as a consumer I would trade the Canadian cell market for the US cell market in an instant.

2 year contract? Make that a 3 year contract. $80 smart phone plan? I have that, but it only includes email NOT data (as in, I cannot surf the internet with my BB at all). Lock you into specific phones? At least in the US if the customer request their phone to be unlocked companies will unlock it (such as TMobile). You dont even have that option in Canada. Also, with only one GSM network (until about 2 weeks ago) what would you do with your unlocked phone anyway? Slightly below or above average customer service? I am so jealous...

Re:All US carriers suck (1)

Sufinsil (1582491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335196)

What's funny right now is that I constantly hear from reviews, friends, and fellow iPhone users how much they think AT&T sucks and want to move to Verizon. Personally I think this is all BS, and would love some more european and canadian cell phone companies to invade the US and finally give us some real competition in this country, or at least have the FCC standup and hold our carriers more accountable and stop the mergers.

ALL the US carriers suck in general! People may think Verizon's coverage is the best, compared to AT&T, but notice how they are competing on coverage, and not dropped calls, network speed, features (you can't check email at the same time you are on a call with Verizon... anywhere, with any phone), etc. Also notice how all the services cost around $80 or so for the minimum smartphone contract. Notice how they all have sneaky overblown hidden fees. Notice how the per txt fee and monthly charge for Txtx keeps going up and up and up. Notice how their customer service is slightly below or slightly above average. Notice how they all lock you into specific phones. Notice how they all lock you into two year contracts unless you are willing to buy one of their cheapo phones for a pay as you go contract. Notice how all the cheapo phones break if you sneeze the wrong way.

Verizon is one level of shit, and AT&T is another level of shit. And we americans are forced to deal with these levels of shit, and we go around saying one is so much greater than the other.

Lol, who are you, Luke Wilson? How many people out of all subscribers realistically do both at the time time?

Plus if I want to, I can easily be connected to WiFi on my Droid and do both, which is normally the time I would ever need to do both at the same time I am normally near a WiFi.

You are not required to go in a contract. Contract of service on month to month is available.

Its the salesperson job to show all the fees, which if you start new on Verizon as an indirect agent I go over them all. (most of the fees are state and federal, with like $1 random surcharges)

I agree the per text charge is way to much, tho on a family plan of 5, $30 isnt to bad of a deal for all unlimited text.

Also have you see seen the population density and land mass of Europe compared to NA? For National carriers sure they are probably a lil high, but the two who charge the most have the most nationwide coverage... I do understand for a lot of people they dont need that and something like in 4+ years ago there was regional plans offered, but it became such a problem with roaming and long distance, its all simple and straight now.

Re:All US carriers suck (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335294)

Also have you see seen the population density and land mass of Europe compared to NA?

You're just making excuses there. Finland has about half the population density of the US, so it would have to have much worse coverage outside the main cities? Norway has about 40% of the density, so it would be even worse still? Well, no. About all that you can really say is that with the US, the national carriers are really big (and they don't offer particularly great coverage anyway in the real backwoods parts, but so?) If you're saying that they have to screw their customers over just because there's a lot of people in the US, then you're just being a shill (paid or unpaid, I know not which) for the carriers.

The real problem is that your regulators are close on the world's worst. That's let the carriers do almost whatever they want. The first step to fixing this is to stop making excuses an see the problem for what it is.

Re:All US carriers suck (1)

Sabalon (1684) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335244)

Verizon, in my 8 years experience with them, has great coverage. I can get a minimal signal almost anywhere that goes to no signal as soon as I try to start a call or answer one.

Re:All US carriers suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30335322)

truth be told i think the reason AT&Ts service sucks these days is _because_ of the iPhone. These devices (i own and love mine) are total bandwidth hogs. i've been at AT&T customer for well over 10 years and in that time i can remember dropping EXACTLY two calls before getting my iPhone. Since then of course i feel like i can count the number of days i dont drop a call on one hand. part of this is due to the device lacking sufficent memory (imo) but my understanding is that where a typical smartphone user uses. in fact http://www.knowyourmobile.com/blog/368798/apple_iphone_way_ahead_in_worldwide_smartphone_data_usage.html indicates that in the US over 50% of smartphone data usage is from the iPhone. thats a lot of stress for their network considering they also have BB's WinMo Phones etc. and according to the Times, not only do iPhone customers use the web and stream video, music, and download applications more than the average smartphone users, they also use more than ten times the network capacity.

all in all i think its unfair to flat out blame AT&T for poor network service. i dont think anyone realised just what they were getting into. had Verizon won the contract i think people would be fleeing their network too.

Re:All US carriers suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30335502)

And to add insult to injury, the last major telco that did move in from Europe got weird frequencies almost nobody ever supports. Hopefully the FCC solves this gaffe eventually

Re:All US carriers suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30335884)

Buy the phone outright at the full-price, non-x-year-contract-subsidized price, and you're not locked into a contract. What? You don't want to put down $400-$500 for a phone? Should we socialize that so that all wannabes can have cool phones?

How about you get off your ass and earn the money to pay for either the 2-year contract or for the full-price, non-subsidized phone? Until then STFU and GTFO ... OMGWTFBBQSAUCEROFLS.

Re:All US carriers suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30336032)

As the other canadians have already mentioned, the major Canadian telcos trade in 3 year contracts and in the case of Rogers would gladly get your soul if it was currency, and tries even then, so I'm not sure you did the research.

Well they can even do simple math (1)

vosester (1163269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334622)

This is one of the funniest and sadist things I have ever heard in my life and does not paint the American educational system in a good light.

http://verizonmath.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:Well they can even do simple math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334828)

That was one of the funniest and saddest things I have ever heard in my life and does not paint the American educational system in a good light.

Come on... (2, Interesting)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334648)

Its one thing to try and recoup the costs of smartphones that you all but give to customers. There is plenty to be said about that but I'll give that part a pass here.

But to setup the OS such that a user can 'go online' as described only to be billed for it is just downright sleazy. I am quite sure that if any customers called in to complain Verizon's solution to them was that they just needed to add a data plan to their contract.

Look, I'm not anti corporations/big business but so many business models have turned into 'how can we best extract money from people' rather than 'provide good service in return for money'. That type of thinking needs to change and it is the job of the government to do that. They are the best 800lb. gorilla that can reign in large corps.

More Corpoate Theft (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334656)

American companies don't make money, they steal money. They lie and use "tricks and traps" to pick people's pockets. This crap with Verizon is typical. In California, AT&T submitted a terms of use agreement that was 1500 pages. I'm sure that it contained provisions that would have allowed them to take your house or savings. Even the almost useless state utilities commission rejected it, because the law states that these agreements must be understandable.

What kind of capitalism is this, exactly? The basic theory of capitalism says that buyers and sellers make informed decisions based on open information. How does changing the contract unilaterally fit in? First they write terms of service that allow them to change the rules without negotiation, then they double the cost of canceling. I know what the dumb ass libertarians and republicans will say: 'if you don't like it, you can quit before the change takes place.' This is bullshit because the cost of getting a new high end phone and new carrier is greater then the cost of keeping the service. How many people really change service before the term is up under any conditions?

And this thing with getting charged for a couple of bucks for hitting a button when you did not sign up for the service? That is flat out and out theft. It has nothing to do with actual capitalism. What good or service do you get for pushing the wrong button on a cell phone?

And what about the banks sorting ATM charges so users are charged the maximum overdraft fees? They sort the charges from biggest to smallest so you hit the overdraft at the beginning of the sequence and every charge after you go over the limit has an overdraft fee. Even if it is in the fine print somewhere it is stealing from consumers. Keep in mind that ATM overdraft fees were $38 Billion for the last year of published data. Not exactly chump change.

I am pro-capitalism, but there is no way the system in the US is actual capitalism. It's all about big corporate interests buying the government and then looting the economy. That's why the US is in a long term economic decline. Corporate america has adopted a model based on orgaized crime, not capitalism.

Block Data? (4, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334694)

Does Verizon allow you to block data?

My wife's parents ended up with some incidental charges for accidental data access on their phones, called AT&T, and they refunded the amounts and asked if they wanted a "data block" put in place to prevent them from accidentally accessing data again. "Yes" "OK, we're all done, thanks for calling AT&T". Next day, my father-in-law tried the data access, and it came up "unavailable", and they've never seen a charge since.

Re:Block Data? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334958)

YES, Verizon will (upon request) put blocks to mobile web, purchases of ringtones, programs (and the like), as well as streaming music or video.

Signed, a current Verizon customer with teenagers.

Re:Block Data? (3, Informative)

ironwill96 (736883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335092)

Except according to the FCC Letter and the NY Times article, even after blocking this particular mobile web data access, you still have to PAY for the blocked notification to come up since it uses data to show you that! Slick business practices Verizon has going on here.

Re:Block Data? (1)

Sufinsil (1582491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335116)

They sure do, When i sell a phone I normally ask if they plan to use the web or download apps/ringtones... if not we put a block on web access. You can not completely block browsing for apps unless you lose out on picture messaging. (can still block download of them)

Re:Block Data? (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334994)

A few years ago, I asked T-Mobile to block data on all the phones on our plan, because our phones kept on signing themselves up for monthly subscription charges. They refused outright, and in a later call, offered ANOTHER subscription charge for "parental controls" to block the data.

We're on AT&T now, which sucks in it's own special ways, but there have been no bill surprises.

Re:Block Data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30336372)

Wow! You must have had some nice smartphones if they signed up for service on their own! Come on! Take some responsibility. The individuals that had the phones were trying to use features on the phones that you weren't paying for. So, the individual signed up for the feature. You, as the billing name on the account, are responsible for reviewing your bill when it comes. You are also responsible for the usage on those phones. And if you give that phone to someone to use, and they aren't responsible enough to not use the phone in a way that you've asked them not to, then you take away the phone.

BTW, I have service with T-Mobile and I had a problem with my wife calling 411 (Directory Assistance). It's $1.79 +tax per call. At first I couldn't believe she was making so many calls. So I asked her and she said she did, so I paid the bill and asked her to stop using 411. The next month she did it again. So, I took the Parental Controls feature and used it to block 411 calling from her phone. 5 dollars a month was a hell of a lot cheaper than the 30 dollars a month she was using for 411. She also went over our minutes a few times, so I used the same feature to limit her minute usage so we don't go over our minutes.

Also, on the topic at hand, T-Mobile doesn't allow you to use data outside their own free corner of the web. So, if you accidentally press that web button on your phone, no surprises. You can only go to the internet if you pay for it.

Re:Block Data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30335200)

Verizon definitely allows you to block data. The wrong-key-press-data-pull drives me simply nuts. So I blocked data on my mother's and children's phones after the $1.99 charges started appearing. Verizon was very stubborn about not giving me $1.99 credit, but happy to block data access. No $1.99 charges since then.

Re:Block Data? (1)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335666)

Yes, they can. I got dinged about $2 for pressing a button, so I had them turn it off. That broke the automatic backup of my contact list. Just about every time I opened the phone after that it was busy trying (and failing) to connect to do the backup. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Verizon charnged Mom $100 for Dad's death (3, Interesting)

SaffronMiner (973257) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335270)

My Father died in October. He had a shared Verizon account with my Mother. They charged Mom $100 to terminate his account, even after I explained that he was dead. I wanted to terminate Mom's account as well, as she only talked to Dad on her cell phone. They refused to do it without having to pay more than $100 beyond the first $100! They told me Mom had to keep the account until it expired in July. While she racks up charges for a service she will not use; Her income is now very limited, she should be using the money to buy food and keep the house heated. A bit off topic to this tread but all of the paperwork and people you have to contact when someone dies is an absolute nightmare. People have been dieing for a really long time now, you would think it would be an easy one click process. Who is up for stating such a service? Oh right, Amazon already has that patented...

Re:Verizon charnged Mom $100 for Dad's death (3, Informative)

BriggsBU (1138021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335576)

You got ripped. I once worked for VZW and the standard policy is that if the user of a phone line dies, the account holder can send in a copy of the death certificate or obituary and that line can be disconnected with no early termination fee. Now, your mom's line would still have been required to be open because a contract is a contract and she was still alive. But you should not have been charged for cancelling the line of the deceased.

Tracfone unintended internet / customer abuse (1)

Regroover (1160193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335476)

Verizon is not the only carrier to engineer this revenue generating feature. The evil wizards at Tracfone put an internet connection button between the "Send" key and the indicator on the display that says "OK" resulting in lots of unintended charges to the internet. When I contacted Tracfone about this issue and asked to have my internet connection ability (on the phone) disabled, they pointed to the problem being Motorola's MotorolaFlip, and that they could do nothing about it. Lovely to hear the Feds are doing something useful after so many years of ineptitude. THANK YOU FCC FOR DOING YOUR JOB! Perhaps we need to give an attaboy to the other government services when they show signs of life.

If the FCC is reading Slashdot... (2, Interesting)

Herger (48454) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336236)

It would be nice if they would do something about consolidation in the telecom market. I think it's a little suspicious that, of the four remaining major wireless carriers, there's a significant trend towards uniformity among plan features, hardware, and especially pricing. In fact, one might even suspect price fixing. I remain shocked every time I travel abroad at how little people pay for wireless outside the USA.

All the government would need to do is do away with early termination fees for individual consumers, as well as mandate easy portability by forcing adoption of SIM or UICC cards, so users could quickly switch when a better deal came along.

They Also Charge for SMS on Mi-Fi (2, Interesting)

Beltway Prophet (453247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336264)

I've had a Mi-Fi (dedicated 3G Wi-Fi access point) from Verizon since the summer. Works great (trouble-free video conferencing from rural Virginia!), but there are consistently charges for SMS messages "received" -- which are not from anyone I know -- given that there's no way to retrieve them, seems kinda disingenuous.
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