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442 comments

Yeah right. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203240)

Technology and frequency differences? You've got to be shitting me. They don't work because the cell operators are greedy assholes.

Re:Yeah right. (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203298)

Technology and frequency differences? You've got to be shitting me. They don't work because the cell operators are greedy assholes.

It would be interesting if the cell phone manufacturers offered a swappable, standardized radio module that would pop in and out like the battery. That way you could buy an expensive smartphone, and leverage that investment by just picking up a new radio module to move to a new network. Of course, the reality is that these pricks can't even agree on a particular power plug, so I wouldn't hold your breath and besides, they're perfectly happy if you are forced to buy a brand-new phone just to go to a different wireless provider.

Re:Yeah right. (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203308)

Other than Apple who is not using the micro USB interface these days?

Re:Yeah right. (2, Interesting)

puto (533470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203362)

Samsung I think. They love to have proprietary connectors.

Re:Yeah right. (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203416)

Galaxy line uses micro USB.

No, Samsung uses them (3, Informative)

mmj638 (905944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203440)

No, Samsung use them.

According to w'pedia:

As of January 30, 2009 Micro-USB has been accepted by almost all cell phone manufacturers as the standard charging port (including HTC, Motorola, Nokia, LG, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Research In Motion) in the EU and most of the world. Worldwide conversion to the new cellphone charging standard is expected to be completed between 2010 to 2012.

Re:No, Samsung uses them (1)

SECProto (790283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203492)

my samsung U430 and I are forced to disagree

Re:No, Samsung uses them (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203538)

That phone is more than 2 years old. His quote quite clearly mentions January 30 2009, your phone is from 2008.

Re:Yeah right. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203456)

Not true. Samsung Galaxy S is micro USB

Re:Yeah right. (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203482)

I think samsung coped enough abuse with there proprietary connectors that they have now mostly gone to micro USB as well. Though I still have my blackjack II, love the phone but I would like to bitch slap samsung sooo hard for the fucking proprietary connector.

Re:Yeah right. (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203514)

It wasn't about customer abuse, the FCC finally had enough and told them somewhat back door to either standardize themselves, or they were going to set a standard and force it. It came about much like the way the rating system with movies did.

Re:Yeah right. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203430)

Other than Apple who is not using the micro USB interface these days?

As I'm sure you're aware, there's more than one of those, connector-wise.

Re:Yeah right. (2, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203502)

Micro- USB has only A and B variants. No one uses A for phones, it is only used for Usb On-The-Go.

All phone makers I know of other than Apple have switched to Micro-B USB.

Re:Yeah right. (0, Redundant)

geekprime (969454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203586)

actually there is an older mini usb and a newer micro usb,

Mini usb on the left, micro on the right.
http://www.usb-mobile-charger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/mini-micro-usb-connector.jpg [usb-mobile-charger.com]

Re:Yeah right. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203664)

actually there is an older mini usb and a newer micro usb,

Mini usb on the left, micro on the right. http://www.usb-mobile-charger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/mini-micro-usb-connector.jpg [usb-mobile-charger.com]

Yes. That's what I was referring to. I know the G1 has the older, more common one, and I believe the N1 has the newer connector.

Re:Yeah right. (-1, Offtopic)

jianan4115 (1925758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203556)

I still like the USB interface. Convenient and practical cabal alz [buyalz.net]

Re:Yeah right. (0, Offtopic)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203650)

I still like the USB interface. Convenient and practical cabal alz [buyalz.net]

Goddamn spammer. Go away.

Re:Yeah right. (4, Informative)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203698)

There is a reason for that: after the EU said "either you lot pick a single charger plug or we'll do it for you", the phone manufacturers decided to standardize on micro USB. You'll find that most of the other differences between the US and EU cell phone markets are also due to pressure from the EU: cell operators are not nicer on this side of the pond, they are just kept on a tighter leash.

Why should they? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203420)

When the dominant model is to buy the phone with the plan, why should the networks pay extra for the millions of phones they ship with plans when the only benefit is to make it easier for the customer to switch to a competitor? Better for them to ship a cheap phone that can't use all the competitors' services.

Re:Why should they? (4, Informative)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203498)

"When the dominant model is to buy the phone with the plan"

Have you thought that it might be the case that that's the dominant model because that's all the telcos offer?

Nobody is telling that telcos should gift away expensive smartphones but that you should be able to choose between a locked subsidized mobile with a data plan *or* a cheaper data plan without the mobile.

Re:Why should they? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203516)

T-mobile has a plan like that.

Re:Yeah right. (5, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203510)

I know it's against Slashdot tradition, but I'd recommend that you RTFA. The summary gave me the same impression - that it would be some corporate fluff piece about how it's a good thing that the networks are screwing you - but the article itself is actually a very well reasoned technical explanation of the various bits of spectrum (and the the protocols running on them) in use today and in the near future, and how these often interfere with interoperability.

Re:Yeah right. (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203692)

Except that these barriers are all really nothing more than a chicken-and-egg problem. Nobody builds a phone that can do all the HSDPA bands, but that's not because it's hard. The only customers who care about the 1700 MHz band are in the U.S. and Canada on carriers that don't sell unlocked phones, and there are no laws requiring unlocking. As a result, those customers don't expect to be able to move from one carrier to another without unlocking. As a result, the handset manufacturers don't need to build phones that allow this. As a result, the chipset vendors largely haven't bothered to design the chips to make this possible.

If you can build a 5-band handset, a 6-band handset is really only incrementally harder. Even a 12-band handset is only incrementally harder when you factor in electronically tunable antennas into the mix.

Re:Yeah right. (4, Insightful)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203546)

Agreed. Using the technology as an excuse completely sidesteps the real issue here.

Especially the 'differing frequencies' argument - haha wtf? Every GSM phone under the sun these days is at least tri-band and generally quad-band, which means it will work on almost any GSM network in the world. Differing frequencies is NOT a barrier to unlocked phones. Hell, I'm a dual Australian and US citizen and spend a lot of time in both countries, and I use my iPhone 4 (GSM quadband) in both countries without problems. It's an Australian-market iPhone 4 which means it's unlocked from the factory (or more accurately, was never locked in the first place). I have a Vodafone AU SIM in it and it roams quite happily in the US on either AT&T or T-Mobile (although T-Mobile is EDGE only for data due to them using a weird uplink frequency for UMTS/HSDPA ... EDGE is still fast enough for most things though)

The only 'unique' thing about the US market, technology wise, is that the big carriers are split between GSM (AT&T, T-Mobile) and CDMA (Sprint, Verizon). So if you had an unlocked phone of either variety in the US, your choices would be restricted more than they would be in other markets. But there would still be ~some~ choice. And the technology itself doesn't preclude unlocked phones (which you CAN get in the US, e.g. via Newegg ... it's just that the carriers themselves don't usually offer unlocked phones in their stores, and won't offer you a plan that doesn't include the handset repayments component - T-Mobile excepted).

So basically, yeah, the US market has come to accept 'cheap upfront phone then pay it off over a 24 month contract' business model as the norm, whereas in other countries, it's usually only an 'option' rather than the norm. But the carriers could offer SIM-only/Bring Your Own Phone plans any time they wanted. It's not a technology issue - it's an issue of the phone companies liking the current model (since it gives them more predictable income when they can tie customers in for two years at a time), and the average consumer not really knowing that there are alternatives.

Re:Yeah right. (-1, Troll)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203700)

There is an inherent scarcity of resources. There's bandwidth which is allocated by completely fair, cough cough, FCC auctions and there are zoning restrictions on where cell towers can be built.

In other words, the government agencies are in control. Here in the U.S. we are blessed, puke shit fart, with so many different layers of government it's nearly impossible to keep track of them. City, state, interstate (50x50), federal.

At the end of the day, it's illegal to do anything in this country without paying extortion to the bureaucracies at large. Those who manage to pay the proper bribes are allowed to FUCK THE GENERAL PUBLIC UP THE ASS.

That's why the phones don't work.

Re:Yeah right. (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203708)

Technology and frequency differences? You've got to be shitting me.

No, there really are, for better or worse, differences in the frequencies used and in the over-the-air protocols used. That doesn't mean that it'd necessarily be impossible to build a phone that could support all of them (perhaps at a higher cost), but perhaps the operators (and I agree with your characterization of them) would have no incentive to offer phones of that sort, so that might be part of the reason.

Re:Yeah right. (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203776)

So why aren't they greedy in Europe? I have a hard itme beleiving that human nature is different in Europe than the US.

More likely, it is a legislation issue. Corporations tend to do what is best for their bottom line (sometimes that may include appearing to be non-greedy, but I digress....). It's up to the lawmakers to keep them in line on stuff like this.

Re:Yeah right. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203804)

Technology and frequency differences? You've got to be shitting me. They don't work because the cell operators are greedy assholes.

Technology and frequency differences? You've got to be shitting me. They don't work because the cell operators are greedy assholes.

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Takes some patience and creativity (3, Interesting)

Mean Variance (913229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203242)

I only use unlocked phones and prepaid plans, T-Mobile, PagePlus mostly. It can be done. There are plenty of unlocked phones available on NewEgg, Dell, Amazon, and Craigslist.

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (3, Informative)

Potor (658520) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203284)

Indeed. I use an unlocked tri-band GSM phone about half the year in Europe, and the same phone about half the year in the States. Also T-Mobile in the States, and strictly prepaid on either continent.

Could not be simpler. I tape the SIM card not being used on the back of my passport.

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203532)

T-Mobile will even unlock your phone for you. Over the last few years, I've had about a half-dozen t-mobile phones unlocked.

We use the same phones in the US that we do in Europe. Japan is the holdout; you have to have a local phone. AFAIK, there is no common phone that will in both US and Japan just by swapping a SIM card.

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (4, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203638)

Yeah Japan is even worse than the US in that regard - although SoftBank runs a GSM network so theoretically an unlocked quadband GSM phone (like the iPhone 4) should work in both the US and Japan with just a SIM card change.

I say 'theoretically' though because although there's no ~technical~ reason why this can't work, it won't work in practise since they won't let the phone actually connect to the network unless its a recognised IMEI from a contracted phone that they already sold you ;)

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (2, Funny)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203736)

IMEIs are evil. The Thai carriers tried to use them to lock down phones a few years ago. Luckily,Thais are exceptionally good at getting around technological roadblocks,then sticking up shops on every corner to help the less tech-savvy get involved.. ;)

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (4, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203774)

Japan is the holdout; you have to have a local phone. AFAIK, there is no common phone that will in both US and Japan just by swapping a SIM card.

Not on 3G, but if your phone supports the European 3G bands it'll work fine in Japan. My N900 served me quite well while I was over there in August on NTT DoCoMo's FOMA 3.5G network, even all the way out in Tochigi prefecture.

Of course, I only get 2.5G in the US on AT&T, but them's the breaks when you buy what you want rather than what you're offered.

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203824)

Oh yeah, a 3GSM (UMTS/HSDPA) phone will WORK in Japan (as you say, your N900 worked fine). But I assume you were roaming and still using your home carrier's SIM.

I think what the GP was talking about is that in Japan, they won't sell a foreigner a local SIM card. In fact they won't even sell a Japanese person a SIM card. The only way you can get a local service there is to buy a local phone locked to the network (and for that you have to be a citizen or permanent resident).

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203862)

I assume you were roaming and still using your home carrier's SIM.

Goodness no, not at the rates they were charging ($2/min, $20/mbyte.) I was using a sim from a company called b-Mobile, who sell data only and data+voice SIMs that give you unlimited service for a specified time period (albeit with rate caps.) You can pick them up at stores and order them online. You are right that they won't sell directly to foreigners (that is, those who aren't in Japan permanently,) I had to go through a proxy service to buy them and have a friend who had a Japanese cell phone activate them (call automated system, enter in card #.)

It's not perfect (and I'd love to just grab one and go) but it's definitely better than it used to be. And it was extremely useful having 3.5G data everywhere I went :D

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203432)

It seems PagePlus only offers 50MB of data, so forget about using your phone as GPS device or doing anything data related while not at home/work.

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203506)

I only use unlocked phones and prepaid plans, T-Mobile, PagePlus mostly. It can be done. There are plenty of unlocked phones available on NewEgg, Dell, Amazon, and Craigslist.

If you're willing to come to Canada you can purchase unlocked iPhones from any Apple store. Not sure about warranty coverage of a "Canadian" device in the US though--a lot of manufacturers are sticky about that, NAFTA be damned.

Re:Takes some patience and creativity (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203786)

Any tips for how to get PagePlus to port a random Verizon phone? I have an LG nv2 which is just perfect for my use cases. I don't care about the cost of their phones but they don't sell a phone I want to use. Mine was bought from some random reseller on eBay with a clear ESN.

Huh? (0)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203246)

They don't work in the U.S. because carriers (who, in the end, are no better than record companies) want to control everything about the devices, because a. they feel entitled and b. because they can use that control to extort extra money from the customers. I'll tell you this: they can take that sense of entitlement and stick it where the Sun don't shine. They are nothing more than not-particularly-fat wireless pipes, and it's past time they were made to understand that, and act accordingly. I'm thoroughly irritated that the government broke up old AT&T (as Judge Greene himself pointed out, that was partly in order to break AT&T's anticompetitive lock on end user equipment in order to encourage the development of more and better services) they failed to apply the same logic to the soon-to-be cellular marketplace. Allowing communications carriers to have total control over subscriber-level equipment just results in, well, all the things we complain about today with regards to our cellular providers.

Re:Huh? (1)

RicoX9 (558353) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203364)

And extortion is EXACTLY what it is. I would love to have cool new phones, but Verizon is the only service that works at my house. If I want to get an Android device, I am FORCED into a data contract. Buy the phone outright? Sure - $30/mo for data please. Why? I'm at work/home, free wireless. I want the better camera/video. I want the portable video/audio playing. I want the better apps and organizer functions. Have no need to pay outrageous fees for data access when free access is all around me 99% of the time.

Renewing with data contract on all my phones would DOUBLE the price of my plan. Not gonna happen. Hell, they won't even discount the plan price if I DO buy a phone outright. The only thing they have going is that the damn phones work where I am. It ought to be illegal to force services on someone that they don't want or need.

Re:Huh? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203392)

Buy a phone from ebay. Some phones, incredible is one I think, support doing data only over wifi.

Re:Huh? (2)

Ken Hall (40554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203452)

I bought a Treo on the used market a few years back. Verizon won't activate a data-capable phone unless you buy a data plan. That's just how they work. If you try to switch from a standard phone to a smartphone via the web site, it'll tell you to call customer service, and they will tell you you HAVE to buy the data plan. No alternative.

Re:Huh? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203520)

Did you tell them it was a Treo?
My understanding was you just do not mention the type of phone and you are ok.

Re:Huh? (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203592)

If you move the sim it will eventually update.

Dunno how accurate it is, but they may just move you to a data plan.

Kinda like what ATT threatened to do if they found you had an iphone on their network without a data plan.

I'm going to suspect this is more due to deficiencies in their network setup rather then just being plain evil. (Well, it is verizon so likely they are just being plain evil).

Years back the way sprint managed network access was through a wap proxy. If you just swapped out your own wap proxy in the configs you could bypass the data charge and simply consume normal minutes. (Free on nights and weekends!).

Re:Huh? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203660)

Unless it's changed very recently, Verizon doesn't use SIMs. You have to call or go in and activate it. And they can tell the model of phone from the serial number of the phone.

But, yeah, AT&T can also detect the model once you put your SIM in and many models get you an instant, forced "courtesy upgrade" to a data plan, though that may have changed recently with their data plan restructuring. Fortunately, they don't recognize my wife's Nokia 9800 ExpresMusic as a "smart" phone, so we can just use WiFi on it.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203478)

The problem is that Verizon will only allow you to connect a smart phone if you pay so much for a monthly data plan. I don't know if you can trick them into letting you use such a phone without such a plan.

dom

Re:Huh? (1)

aoeuid (250239) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203548)

I'm using an Android phone with Rogers Pay as you go in Canada. There is a configuration setting to disable mobile data, it's very easy to turn off and use with Wifi only. They don't sell Android phones on pay as you go plans, but that doesn't mean you can't buy the phone outright, buy a pay as you go chip separately, and disable the mobile data option on the phone. I'd be quite surprised if the situation in the US were any worse than here.

Re:Huh? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203596)

I'm using an Android phone with Rogers Pay as you go in Canada. There is a configuration setting to disable mobile data, it's very easy to turn off and use with Wifi only. They don't sell Android phones on pay as you go plans, but that doesn't mean you can't buy the phone outright, buy a pay as you go chip separately, and disable the mobile data option on the phone. I'd be quite surprised if the situation in the US were any worse than here.

Well, as an American I've heard stories about Rogers, as I'm sure you've heard stories about Verizon. More to the point, whatever you have heard about Verizon, well, it's true. They really do suck that badly. I'm fortunate that I can get T-Mobile: I wouldn't want Verizon, Sprint or AT&T at this point.

It is kinda ironic that one of the most consumer-friendly carriers in the U.S. is nothing more than the domestic extension of Germany's Deutsche Telekom, the obnoxious entrenched incumbent over there. Here they're the underdog, and that means they're willing to work more for their business. Well, they were: with this business about the G2 locking out third-party firmware I have to wonder (yeah, it's been cracked, but it shouldn't have to be.)

Every Network Is Different (-1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203268)

So phones won't work on different networks and in the US we've got carriers who purposely use it for 'network based lock in'. I'm not sure why we put up with it ... we wouldn't tolerate buying a Chevy and only being able to go to a Shell gas station because of it. Breaking up Ma Bell wasn't the best idea our friends in DC ever had.

Re:Every Network Is Different (5, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203282)

Yeah, breaking up Ma Bell was a terrible idea. I just loved having to pay rent on every phone in my house every month, because you weren't allowed to own your own phone.

You know nothing.

Re:Every Network Is Different (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203378)

Yeah, breaking up Ma Bell was a terrible idea. I just loved having to pay rent on every phone in my house every month, because you weren't allowed to own your own phone.

You know nothing.

You know less than you think. AT&T was a heavily-regulated government instituted monopoly, and it was a lot easier to regulate that single entity that it was to regulate what was left of AT&T after the breakup, and the thirteen so-called "Baby Bells" that provided local phone service. And now, they've all come back under the umbrella of SBC, only now without much of the regulation, and are if anything are more abusive to their customers, and more generally corrupt, than the old AT&T ever was. So tell me again how the breakup was inherently a "good thing (tm)?"

It wasn't necessary to break up AT&T just to break the lock on subscriber-level equipment: that would have been an easy change to the relevant regulations: "AT&T doesn't own your phones anymore." Done. AT&T was broken up because it was a monopoly, and some people in government don't like monopolies. AT&T never really understood what the furor was about, considering that it was the Federal Government that granted them their monopoly in the first place, in exchange for a specific regulatory burden, quality-of-service standards and (most importantly) universal coverage. When you hear complaints about Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and the like cherrypicking what locales they service, well, now you know why. Also remember that, up until that time, AT&T did offer just about the most reliable telephone service anywhere on the planet. No, it wasn't cheap, I agree.

The Feds tried to break up IBM, and failed, and (if I recall correctly) the head attorney on the government's side said, "Well, big isn't always bad." So there's not a whole lot of consistency when it comes to antitrust enforcement. If any company was deserving of a breakup at the time, it was probably IBM. But they got a free pass, and AT&T got shattered. And in the end, because the rise of packet-switched networking and the Internet changed everything anyway, we all got those cool services that Judge Greene wanted us to have, and it didn't take a breakup to do it. I'm not saying that it was the wrong thing to do (or the right thing, for that matter), I'm just saying that you're incorrect in assuming that such a heavy antitrust penalty was required in order to let you buy your own phones.

Re:Every Network Is Different (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203424)

Ownership of subscriber level equipment was just the tip of the iceberg of Ma Bells' abuses. If that's all you have to go on, it's obvious you aren't old enough to remember how bad it was. SBC's abuses aren't a patch on Ma Bell's.

Re:Every Network Is Different (1, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203488)

Ownership of subscriber level equipment was just the tip of the iceberg of Ma Bells' abuses. If that's all you have to go on, it's obvious you aren't old enough to remember how bad it was. SBC's abuses aren't a patch on Ma Bell's.

I guess you misunderstood me. The GP was saying that AT&T was broken up just because of their lock on subscriber equipment. Obviously there was more to it than that.

And the term "abuse" takes many forms. I do remember that AT&T's field service types were well-trained, and always did the job right. At least that was always our experience. Yet, ever since the breakup, the quality of field service has been dropping, to the point where I've had these guys just leave bare wires hanging from my ceiling. The last time I had service from SBC, the pricks charged me over $350 for "installation" when the house was already wired and the tech just plugged in his test set and got tone. They claimed the technician was in my house for five hours. I disagreed, and told them I wasn't going to pay, so they turned off my service. I went cellular for a while until I got Comcast Digital Voice (not that Comcast was much of an improvement.)

Never had a problem with anything like that when AT&T was running the show. So, there are tradeoffs. We broke up the monopoly and got more competition, but we failed to maintain a proper regulatory stance. AT&T's abuses were largely systemic, and yes that resulted in higher phone bills, but their service was pretty damn good. And they weren't allowed to cherrypick: you wanted a phone, you got it, whether you were in a city or on a farm.

Re:Every Network Is Different (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203594)

I am the GP, and I didn't say AT&T was broken up JUST because of their lock on subscriber equipment. It was just one blatant example of their abuse I could describe adequatly in a single sentence.

Re:Every Network Is Different (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203870)

Way to tone in on your moot point for a third time. The point is that the intent of the break up was good, but it ended up being worse than if they had left Bell alone. This is well documented at this point.
And no I am not ScrewMaster, but I am a fan of his.

Re:Every Network Is Different (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203306)

Breaking up Ma Bell wasn't the best idea our friends in DC ever had.

I don't think that breaking Bell was bad. The problem was that the government let the companies to do whatever they wanted.
In Europe standardization is usually taken more seriously, thus avoiding each country doing whatever they want and things becoming a total mess. That should be easier to do in a single country, and it's really a shame the US has such problems.

Re:Every Network Is Different (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203310)

I'm not sure why we put up with it

Because most people who consider a mobile phone in the United States find it preferable to the alternative: no phone service and no handheld device.

Re:Every Network Is Different (1)

puto (533470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203336)

You might want to read this article, it was written in 1984 before the internets, it sums it up nicely. http://www.porticus.org/bell/whatkilledmabell.html [porticus.org]

Re:Every Network Is Different (3, Insightful)

Ken Hall (40554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203658)

There was a lot more to it than this. AT&T was prohibited from being in certain markets (computers) because of the "regulated monopoly" status. They had fantastic technology available via Bell Labs, but they couldn't sell it directly. They also had UNIX. They owned it. But they couldn't make money off it.

The government wouldn't let AT&T sell computers because it was believed they would have an unfair advantage in the marketplace if they controlled everything from end to end. They could make their computers work better or cheaper on their networks. Few people remember now how much it used to cost to connect a third party modem to a Bell phone line. But you could rent a modem from Bell that would plug right in! And then you'd pay, and pay, and pay rent forever.

The management of AT&T decided it was better for the company to be broken up so they could get the new entities into markets they thought would make them more money than just carrying traffic. At that time, the small computer industry was beginning to take off, and they wanted a piece of that. They wanted to take on IBM, and even without the local providers, they were still about the only company large enough to succeed.

This isn't about technology, or customer service, it's about BUSINESS. Everyone who owned AT&T stock got shares in all of the new entities, and the idea was that the new entities, moving into new markets, could make more revenue combined than the old monolith. That translates into higher overall dividends, and higher aggregate share prices.

It's all about "maximizing shareholder value".

Sometimes in business, you have to think about what your company can be, rather than what it IS. If the railroads had thought this way, they could have been the first into the airline business, but they thought of themselves as RAILROADS, and not as "transportation providers", and by the time they realized what was happening, it was too late.

The management of AT&T tried to branch out, to get into the game, but unfortunately nobody thought of them as a computer company. They didn't discover how to properly market their new products till they were outclassed by the other players. Their early UNIX boxes were good products that just never sold well.

They work for me... (2, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203276)

Most of the phones I've ever owned have been unlocked, purchased direct from Nokia. Never had any issues with them "not working" with any carrier I could purchases a SIM card from.

Discount for no subsidy; coverage; restocking fee (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203352)

Most of the phones I've ever owned have been unlocked, purchased direct from Nokia.

For one thing, only T-Mobile has a discount for bringing your own unlocked phone rather than taking one of the subsidized phones. AT&T has no counterpart to T-Mobile's "Even More Plus" plans [t-mobile.com] that knock $10/mo off voice or $20/mo off voice+data for purchasing the handset and SIM separately. But other Slashdot users appear to be of the opinion that T-Mobile has the worst coverage among the big four. For another, before I buy an N900 phone from Nokia, I want to know whether I will like it so that I'm not out $80 for return shipping and restocking fees for a phone that I turn out not to like.

Re:Discount for no subsidy; coverage; restocking f (2, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203588)

But other Slashdot users appear to be of the opinion that T-Mobile has the worst coverage among the big four.

They do. For as many places as they're in, their coverage tends to be rather iffy if you get out of the major metro areas.

For another, before I buy an N900 phone from Nokia, I want to know whether I will like it so that I'm not out $80 for return shipping and restocking fees for a phone that I turn out not to like.

Totally depends on what you're after. It's a so-so phone, but a pocket computer like none-other. Phone capabilities were tertiary (but still essential) for me, behind data and hackability. It's got some things that make no sense, and some that are just dumb, but I won't go to Android from here, never mind WP7 or the iPhone. And if you use Linux regularly, all the capability is there if you want it.

Re:Discount for no subsidy; coverage; restocking f (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203696)

Totally depends on what you're after. It's a so-so phone, but a pocket computer like none-other.

I'm not interested in a phone as much as a pocket computer. The problem is that I'm not a fan of paying upwards of $50 per month for phone service when I currently pay $5 per month to Virgin Mobile USA because I use fewer than 40 voice minutes per month, mostly to arrange a ride to or from somewhere. I'd even be satisfied with a Wi-Fi-only device, but chains like Sears and Best Buy don't have the Samsung Galaxy Player 50 or Archos 43 yet.

Re:Discount for no subsidy; coverage; restocking f (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203662)

I would agree that the business model is why unlocked phones are not popular. I will pay the same monthly tarrifs for an unlocked phone as for a locked phone. I can use my locked phone anywhere in the continental US for no additional charge. I can get a pay-as-you go phone for next to nothing, and only pay for the minutes I use.

For the average US resident that has little reason to use their phone outside the US, the only reason to have an unlocked phone is simply to say one has an unlokced phone. For some people, buying the lock phone and breaking it is half the fun. For people who travel outside the US, it is probably more likley that there will be a cost advantage to buy a prepaid phone in the destination country if a phone is needed. For instance, AFIK, if I went to the UK a phone with a hour of air time and many text messages would be less than 30 GBP. It would probably cost me more to use my own phone with international plan charges and roaming charges.

Re:Discount for no subsidy; coverage; restocking f (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203850)

The point of an unlocked phone is not really international travel. It is being able to switch providers quickly and easily so that you can get a better plan. Let's say you are on carrier A. Six months down the road, carrier B comes along with a plan that kicks carrier A's plan's ass.

If your phone is unlocked/uncontracted, you can just go to carrier B's store, sign up and pop carrier B's SIM card in and off you go. Call carrier A to cancel your account with them.

Now as you say, in the US, this doesn't happen because the carriers don't even OFFER SIM-only/Bring Your Own Phone plans to begin with. But in most other countries where phones ~are~ unlocked, it is the ability to constantly change carriers as better deals come along that is the big attraction to them. Being able to go abroad easily is just a bonus.

Re:Discount for no subsidy; coverage; restocking f (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203762)

It's nice. [1] [melikamp.com] [2] [melikamp.com] [3] [melikamp.com] [4] [melikamp.com] [5] [melikamp.com] [6] [melikamp.com]

Re:Discount for no subsidy; coverage; restocking f (1)

dara (119068) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203806)

$20 a month discount is almost $500 over two years. A Nokia N8 is $550 at Newegg.com, but I think one can do a bit better. Most good phones cost over $100 on a subsidized plan. So I think the case can be made for consumer appeal right now - regardless of whether you can change carriers or not. What I want my government to do is its job - foster competition by mandating that all US carriers have to offer non-subsidized plans with significant discounts to allow manufacturers to make phones and market them directly to consumers and not have the consumer screwed over by paying the same rate as someone who buys a subsidized phone.

Going forward, we really should be converging on not necessarily a single worldwide standard, but a group of standards and frequencies that can easily be achieved by phones that cost around $500 in a few years. Then it will be even better when you can move the phone across networks in the US. If only the majority of the US realized how often we are not #1 in a particular area (cell phone plans, internet, health care, transportation infrastructure, ...), maybe we could apply enough pressure to get our government to do something. But so many of us think that we do things best and the government should just get out of the way. Do we have to fall down completely before figuring out we can be better?

Re:They work for me... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203714)

You can't even purchase a SIM card from half the major (nationwide) providers.

Re:They work for me... (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203792)

Most of the phones I've ever wned have been unlocked, purchased direct from Nokia. Never had any issues with them "not working" with any carrier I could purchases a SIM card from.

So you have, for example, bought a Nokia phone, gotten a SIM card from AT&T, used it on the AT&T network and then, later, canceled your AT&T service, got whatever the equivalent of a SIM card is called on a cdmaOne/CDMA2000 network (RUIM, OMH, whatever) from Verizon, plugged it into the phone, and used it on Verizon?

If not, then "They work for me..." amounts to "they work for some people, but not others", so it's not a general refutation. RTFA.

Forcing phone companies to offer all plans monthly (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203278)

The phone companies(at least in Germany) have sort of found away around having to deal with people with unlocked phones moving from provider to provider, namely it's impossible to find reasonably priced data plans without signing a 2 year contract. The only data plans you could get were per-day plans at a cost of 5 euros a day. If you just use your phone to check your email you are looking at 150 euros a month, 2.5x the usual Telekom unlimited data plan(without even factoring in the free voice minutes you get). And by the time you have signed a contract, you might as well get the subsidized locked phone because it's going to be obsolete in 2 years anyway.

Re:Forcing phone companies to offer all plans mont (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203318)

So buy the phone you want, then get the contract and swap the sim into the phone you wanted. Now sell the "free" phone on ebay.

Uh... (3, Informative)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203314)

My 4-band Nokia GSM phone worked fine with AT&T and T-Mobile.

Well, I basically just make voice calls, so maybe that's the issue...

Re:Uh... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203722)

Try moving to Verizon or Sprint.

Its getting deep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203320)

The baseband and frequency issues are easily addressed in unlocked phones, there are only 2 standards so yes it does limit the phones available to being either cdma or gsm but the rest is just BS in the disguise of not "confusing" the consumer. I have yet to see a Sprint or Verizon phone that cannot work on cricket when unlocked. Ditto for AT&T phones and T-Mobile. Subsidized phone sales are a completely scam but to be fair, most people are too stupid to look past the "cheap phone" to think about what they are really paying for it when considering the 2 year contract they sign to get it.

Re:Its getting deep (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203462)

You will get an AT&T phone that will work on T-Mobile but unless the phone has both AT&T frequency bands and T-Mobile frequency bands, you wont get 3G data.

Works for me (2, Informative)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203324)

I used to have a Motorola quad-band GSM phone on AT&T. I unlocked it so I could bring it to Australia and New Zealand when I went there a few years ago. Worked absolutely fine for me. I still keep the phone handy for if/when I travel abroad in the future.

Re:Works for me (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203838)

With unlocked phones, you can break into a country's market, but you couldn't take their tech out back to the US.

The US breaking world-wide standards reminds me that Skype charges no extras per USA-bound calls (everyone can do that one for free!) The issue is when you want a two-way platform --fees apply for those calls you want to return.

Re:Works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203858)

By calls I mean PC to phone, of course.

"analyst"? (3, Insightful)

iamagloworm (816661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203326)

he has analysed nothing. how much money these "analysts" are paid for stating the bleeding obvious is beyond me. this should be under the no-shit-sherlock dept.

There is no technical reason (0)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203328)

Many countries have different technologies and frequencies, but there are many phones capable of workign with all. As someone who travels between Asia, South America, Europe and Australia regularly I never have a problem, and each of these regions have different standards and frequencies.

The problem is the US, and a lack of sane regulation in the marketplace.

LTE either? (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203330)

I dunno; with the 2 clauses Google got the FCC to wire into the license terms, I had high hopes for LTE... Any app, any device; you can go far with that...

Re:LTE either? (3, Interesting)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203344)

[ reads piece ]

Oh: "Andy Seybold Guesses".

Got it.

Hey, Andy? LTE *isn't* 4G; ITU says so.

Andy underrates RF technology; if Vzn can deploy LTE robustly, things will get very interesting.

Its because the telecoms have fought it (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203342)

They don't "not work" because of "technology and frequency differences,", they have trouble because the oligopoly of telecom providers has worked hard to actively prevent unlocked phones from being marketable.

Spectrum issue (4, Informative)

thogard (43403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203350)

NATO split up the spectrum after WWII so that European military radios were on the US civilian frequencies and vice versa. The reason was so the US military could take its radios into Europe and use their default channels and not conflict with the allied military radios that were already there.

And why the US has it easy compared to Canada (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203358)

Seriously, compare our rates. Our plans. The contracts lengths.

There's a reason why cellphones aren't as popular in Canada as everywhere else on the planet. And Canadians don't throw their money around like Americans and that's another thing bugging the cellphone companies.

Silly excuse for imposing bad pricing and terms. (1)

mmj638 (905944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203374)

> that model doesn't work in the US due to technology and frequency differences

That doesn't seem to have been a problem in Australia or New Zealand where there are also frequency differences between networks.

You just buy a phone with the right frequency for your network (850 or 900/2100) and you're right. Some new phones like the iPhone 4 support both sets of frequencies so are are non-issue.

The real reason that model doesn't work in the US is due to the carriers being allowed (by the buying public, or by regulators, depending on your politics) to impose such terrible prices and terms.

Re:Silly excuse for imposing bad pricing and terms (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203584)

Exactly. This USED to be a problem back in the 90s and early 2000s when a lot of phones were only dualband (e.g. 900/1800). Any phone less than five years old will be at least triband now, and any phone that is less than 2 or 3 years old will be quad band or higher. Frequency differences are quickly becoming a non-issue in most GSM markets these days, provided you stick to one of the widely used frequencies: 850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100.

The real reason they won't work in the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203518)

Is because the U.S. fails so much at math that people can't figure out they'll be paying $2000 over their 2-year contract for their "free" locked phone.

Re:The real reason they won't work in the U.S. (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203826)

I'm from the US so obviously my math is really poor. So let me take my socks off so I can do some basic math. $2,000 is $83 a month. Are you saying you get an $83 a month discount for having an unlocked phone? That's fucking awesome! Where are you where they are so cool? I don't even pay anywhere near that per line to start with, so let's see. Time for some advanced math, let me take my underwear off so I can carry the one.

$120/month buys me a "family plan" with three telephones and AT&T provided all three phones for a penny a pop. So, if I understand your math correctly, each of those phones will cost me an additional $1,999.99 over the life of the two-year plan, totaling $5999.97 which is about $250 a month over 24 months. I'm paying about $120 a month, so if I had only bought unlocked phones AT&T would be paying me $130 a month, right? God, I'm such a fucking stupid American who is so bad at math I missed an opportunity for AT&T to pay me $130 a month to have their service!

Since most major carriers in the US give ZERO discount for buying an unlocked phone, we'd be paying the money anyway, might as well get a damned phone for it. Even the is a relatively progressive companies offer about a $30/month discount for unlocked phones. Over the two years that generally means a contract, that's $720. Now, don't get me wrong, you can get a pretty awesome phone for $720, but my American math is so stupid I can't figure out how I can save the other $1280 you say my phone would otherwise cost me over the two years. Not to mention the fact that there's no signal anywhere near where I live for any of the companies that offer a discount, so I could save the $720 to have a phone with zero bars and is incapable of making telephone calls. But I've saved $720, how fucking awesome is that, huh?

My wife has an unlocked phone, but only because it allows her to have a smart phone with WiFi and we don't have to buy a data plan. If she wanted a data plan, there'd be no point in an unlocked phone at all, since the data plan is $15-30 a month whether she uses an AT&T provided phone or we bought one. But she's OK with only having data while at home, so the $250 we spent on the phone will actually save us somewhere around a couple hundred bucks over the life of the contract. So we come out ahead $50. Over two years. Woo-freaking-hoo.

Nothing about Asia (1)

Conspire (102879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203528)

Asia has over 850 million mobile subscribers this year, mind you that's more than the living human population of the US and Europe combined! Asia mobile subscriber growth rates far exceed and are predicted to continue to exceed the US and Europe for the next 5 years, continuing to out pace both those markets. Asia is like Europe, in that you buy the phone and the service separately, they are not tied together (phones are not locked). Now why did the author not mention Asia?

Re:Nothing about Asia (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203562)

Because "Asia" is a diverse region, not a singular country. What you say absolutely does not apply in Japan or Korea, for instance, where virtually every phone is sold on contract and locked to the carrier. It's possible to buy service without any phone, but they look down on it or, as in Korea's case, it's virtually impossible due to laws.

I got it! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203530)

For USA cellular phone networks, It's all about the money. Period!

The problem is not locked vs unlocked (4, Insightful)

PsychicX (866028) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203574)

It's popular to talk about why 'unlocked' phones, but I would wager that the vast majority of unlocked phone buyers do not care that the phone is unlocked. It's irrelevant. We're not planning to switch networks. It's the contract that is the problem. Locked phones are fine as long as they're off contract. And off contract is exactly where cell companies don't want their customers to be.

Seybold = Industry Stooge (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203632)

The subject line of my post says it all.

If you have any questions, you're stupid.

Don't work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203668)

My unlocked N900 works just fine here in Colorado, on T-Mobile's network. And the 3.5G speeds are more than sufficient, averaging 4 Mb on the DL side, with peak rates around 10 Mb. Perhaps the perception that unlocked phones "don't work" is due to the consumer being largely in the dark about their options.

No more Ninnle comments? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203712)

What ever happened to that Ninnle guy? It's been ages since we heard about anything to do with Ninnle Linux. Does it still exist?

Re:No more Ninnle comments? (1)

germansausage (682057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203766)

Oracle bought Ninnle, quietly fired all the Devs and shut it down.....Damn you to Hell, Larry! Why?

OK, fine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34203748)

Seybold can keep having it "not work" for him, and making up excuses for that outcome. That's great.

Meanwhile I'm going to keep living in the United States and keep buying unlocked phones, picking the device I want when I want it, not being tied to a 2-year upgrade cycle, refraining from using idiotic phrases like "Verizon Phone" and "the new phone on Sprint", and paying half price on a data plan because T-Mo and AT&T can be negotiated into giving me the "non-smartphone" rate.

I have a feeling it's going to work out just fine.

Whether or not the technical issues are true... (4, Interesting)

Constantin (765902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34203782)

The main point of the article should have been that the EU created a competitive landscape by restricting competitors to interoperability standards that do not exist in the USA - i.e. allowing customers to go from carrier to carrier without the need for a new phone. Here in the US, you are automatically subsidizing a new phone when you sign up for service with any major wireless company - and if you don't use the subsidy by buying a new phone every two years, then you're leaving money on the table. Yes, a waste, but that's what evolved over here vs. the general EU model of the customer providing the phone and the carrier supplying the SIM (though subsidized plans exist).

Me, I'd prefer the ability to switch carriers and not to have this hidden subsidy. If the phone works and you're happy with it, why quasi-require the owner to chuck it for a new model? Just more e-waste with no tangible benefit except for those that like to further line the pockets of wireless carriers through the use of additional (previously unreachable) services. I also like that the EU mandates that the caller to the cell pays for the call. Seriously cuts down spam calls - because calls to cell phones are 5x more expensive than landline calls. An additional benefit is the possibility of giving a phone to your kid and being able to call them at will - but they cannot make calls unless they refill the SIM bank account.

Anyhow, IIRC, the iPhone 4 has two external antennas that are nominally tuned to certain frequencies but which through some electronic happiness inside can actually cover a wider variety of frequencies than the one that they are 'naturally' resonant on. So your signal quality on a 700MHz band using a nominal 850MHz antenna may not be great, but it may still work. The current iPhone 4 is capable of handling signals ranging from 850MHz-2.4GHz... so the current design limitations may be just that, limits by design to lock folk into AT&T in the US market. Then again, I don't know enough about all the technologies, compatibility issues, etc. to say for sure that it can be done.

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