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French Provider Free Could Buy US Branch of T-Mobile

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the everyone-wants-a-piece dept.

Businesses 111

Guybrush_T (980074) writes Iliad, the parent company of Free, confirmed today having made an offer to buy 56% of the U.S. branch of T-Mobile. This could be very good news for the U.S., since the provider reduced significantly the average price of mobile plans in France since they entered the mobile market two years ago. Their disruptive strategy, featuring an all-inclusive €20/month plan and a €2/month plan gathered 11% of the French market in only two years and lowered the price of plans by a factor of 5 to 10.

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1st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578495)

yes

bienvenue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578501)

Voulez vous ales au Canada apres s'il vous plait

Re:bienvenue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578541)

That would be amazing! The prices here are far worse than the USA, and that's saying something! Our corrupt government won't let that happen though, they have strict laws on foreign ownership, which is why nothing will change and we'll remain *the* 3rd world of mobile and telecom.

Re:bienvenue (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 3 months ago | (#47580795)

Are you saying that the CRTC, which is filled with people who used to be telecom fat cats, is protecting their former employers? Inconceivable!

bienvenue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578931)

+1 LIKE

Re:bienvenue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580817)

Voulez-vous aller au Canada après, s'il vous plaît.

CCPT.

No Need to Worry Folks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578533)

EU2/month plan gathered 11% of the French market in only two years and lowered the price of plans by a 5 to 10 factor.

Not to worry - we have the FCC and the FTC to prevent that sort of catastrophic blow to incumbent wireless providers' profits.

Um... good for whom in the US? (3, Insightful)

gwstuff (2067112) | about 3 months ago | (#47578563)

Do you mean the US shareholders of T-Mobile? The CEOs? The Execs?

You couldn't possibly mean good for the US consumer... or did you? It's a bit awkward this. You must excuse me, you see we in the US have never really had any experience with that sort of thing - a company doing something that's good for the consumer... wow, I wonder how that feels like. Is that like when a Comcast sales rep signs you up for a promotion that actually costs you money in the long run, but gives you a refund when you spend hours on the phone, in effect being all nice and not ripping you off?

Consumers (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578611)

Yes, it's consumers. Because it's a French company, if you have to dispute an over charge, they just surrender and back it off.

Re:Consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579161)

The last Frenchie I tried to collect a debt from ran away screaming like a little girl.

Re:Consumers (1)

Sudline (1552111) | about 3 months ago | (#47579577)

You must have looked terrible!

Re:Consumers (1)

gwstuff (2067112) | about 3 months ago | (#47579611)

Nah, it's his breath.

Re:Consumers (2)

the Hewster (734122) | about 3 months ago | (#47580651)

Yes, it's consumers. Because it's a French company, if you have to dispute an over charge, they just surrender and back it off.

The French surrender? I thought this old meme stopped being funny when it turned out it was NOT a good idea to invade Irak and the French turned out to be right to not go in all along...

Anyway, I'll tell you who this is BAD news for: whoever is competing with T-Mobile in the US. I'm myself in France and from what I gather, the "competitive market" of mobile operators in the US is in pretty bad shape. Pretty ironic when you think about it, in the land of the Free Market.

Dinosaurs, get ready for some major disruption, there's a new competitor in town and it is meaner, leaner and and more aggressive than you are. Adapt fast or face extinction. Le the fun begin.

Re:Consumers (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | about 3 months ago | (#47580761)

The French surrender? I thought this old meme stopped being funny when it turned out it was NOT a good idea to invade Irak and the French turned out to be right to not go in all along

Not debating whether the meme is old or not but how does not fighting kill the French always surrender joke?

Re:Consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47581531)

You're completely right. It's your IQ being over 70 that makes the surrender joke not funny.

Re:Consumers (3, Informative)

fnj (64210) | about 3 months ago | (#47581675)

You're completely right. It's your IQ being over 70 that makes the surrender joke not funny.

If I may be permitted to demur, I don't think that's got it either. For me it's history of a longer range than a few years that makes it not as funny as it otherwise might be. The way the American Revolution would have been unquestionably lost without the aid of the French. The way the dear sweet young generation of France reddened the soil of their homeland with their blood to save it in the Great War. The way young and old went underground full of fight when the Nation was overwhelmed in 1940.

All that just sharpens the contrast with today, now that we see the nation of France, along with so many others, surrender to the evil ravening islamic mob in the streets of their own capital.

Re:Consumers (1)

the Hewster (734122) | about 3 months ago | (#47581603)

The French surrender? I thought this old meme stopped being funny when it turned out it was NOT a good idea to invade Irak and the French turned out to be right to not go in all along

Not debating whether the meme is old or not but how does not fighting kill the French always surrender joke?

I'm just saying, the US is engaged in many conflicts, not all of which are very well justified, so you sound a bit like a warmongering cowboy when you say that. See why it's not funny now?

Re:Consumers (1)

CodeArtisan (795142) | about 3 months ago | (#47581937)

I thought the French saved the 'Merkins' collective ass during that little skirmish with the Brits.

Re:Consumers (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47580823)

I gather, the "competitive market" of mobile operators in the US is in pretty bad shape

You are gathering from people who mostly don't know what they are talking about. The USA has a geography and lower population density, and road system vs. public transit system which makes it vastly more expensive to provide service. Moreover they get much less government support in terms of funding. As a consequence USA carriers are far more sophisticated than their European counterparts. The idea that the USA is a technological backwater for mobile came from the 1990s and early 2000s when the cost of creating was so vast that it took far longer here. Also because of the price point mobility during that period of time was more enterprise oriented so many /. readers don't know about the excellent enterprise features mobile carriers have instead focusing on things consumers want.

Data will always be much more expensive to deliver in the USA than most of Europe and Asia. That's geography. The effect of that though is carriers with far deeper pockets and far more interesting offerings.

Don't get me wrong cash infusions do matter. SoftBank's funding has allowed Sprint to do some excellent stuff with their towers which means tower for tower Sprint is far and away the most efficient around. But that's taken years and cost many billions. And it still leaves Sprint with a worse network than AT&T or Verizon. The problem is that Iliad's pockets aren't really that deep. The buyout itself is too big for them. Where is the cash going to come from for the huge network upgrades that T-mobile / MetroPCS needs? T-Mobile has the money to finance the current Metro conversion city by city. But after that it would fall to Iliad. Where does that extra money come from? Sprint, Verizon and AT&T are all doing large upgrades for the rest of the decade.

Re:Consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47581737)

Going by my experience with Free's wifi hotspots, I'd say it's also bad for any Apple user who doesn't know how to spoof their MAC address.

Re:Consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580749)

That's why this deal will never go down.

Once T-Mobile rebuffs Iliad's offer, the French will surrender to the Germans yet again.

T- Mobile will end up owning Iliad.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 months ago | (#47578633)

You must excuse me, you see we in the US have never really had any experience with that sort of thing - a company doing something that's good for the consumer... wow, I wonder how that feels like.

I'm a T-Mobile US customer, and considering they recently dropped "overages", I know what it feels like. Yeah, it's rare.

If Free buys T-Mobile and implements a 20Eu service, my bill will drop by something less than $10. Less, because I assume the 20Eu service will still have federal taxes/fees.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (2)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 3 months ago | (#47578865)

Less, because I assume the 20Eu service will still have federal taxes/fees.

Don't forget state fees. Most states still have the mindset that having a mobile phone is a rich man's luxury, so they tax the shit out of it.

Go to a state like Washington and you pay 24% in taxes. Go just a little south to Oregon and it's 7%.

http://www.mywireless.org/stat... [mywireless.org]

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (4, Interesting)

Meeni (1815694) | about 3 months ago | (#47578941)

20 euros is inclusive of taxes. France taxes are not super heavy, but still on the upper side, and I'd bet US taxes are lower overall.

When I lived in France I had Free. Excellent service, very disruptive market strategy. I'm very excited with the news. I'd switch in an eyelash.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (2)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about 3 months ago | (#47580463)

20 euros is inclusive of taxes. France taxes are not super heavy, but still on the upper side, and I'd bet US taxes are lower overall.

When I lived in France I had Free. Excellent service, very disruptive market strategy. I'm very excited with the news. I'd switch in an eyelash.

Yes, 20% TVA is still considerably higher than US sales tax which doesn't exceed 10% anywhere.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580845)

US sales tax which doesn't exceed 10% anywhere.

almost [chicagobusiness.com]

Only 15 of the 50 largest cities charge a higher tax on meals than other goods, and only three others charge a combined tax of 10 percent or more: Virginia Beach, Va. (10.5 percent); Seattle (10 percent); and Washington (10 percent).

On top of the 9.5 percent state and local sales tax in Chicago, the city imposes a 0.25 percent restaurant tax and downtown restaurants must levy an additional 1 percent tax for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which runs Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

Among cities that do impose a separate tax on meals, the rate ranges from 0.05 percent in Milwaukee to 5.5 percent in Virginia Beach.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580961)

20 euros is inclusive of taxes. France taxes are not super heavy, but still on the upper side, and I'd bet US taxes are lower overall.

When I lived in France I had Free. Excellent service, very disruptive market strategy. I'm very excited with the news. I'd switch in an eyelash.

Yes, 20% TVA is still considerably higher than US sales tax which doesn't exceed 10% anywhere.

Sales tax does not apply to cell phones contract plans. They have a whole set of taxes of their own. For some reason however, with prepaid plans the sales tax does apply but the other taxes do not. I'm in a relatively high sales tax locale (8%) but the taxes on prepaid still beat the taxes on a comparably priced contract plan.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 3 months ago | (#47581175)

US sales tax which doesn't exceed 10% anywhere.

No individual location has a state tax exceeding 10%, but depending on what is being purchased and where it's being purchased, there may be an additional tax beyond just the general sales tax that applies, driving the price up. Local governments usually can add a percent or two to the state rate. Alcohol, tobacco also get a "sin tax" added, as does lodging, transportation rentals, and restaurants pushing them well above 10%.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about 3 months ago | (#47582377)

US sales tax which doesn't exceed 10% anywhere.

No individual location has a state tax exceeding 10%, but depending on what is being purchased and where it's being purchased, there may be an additional tax beyond just the general sales tax that applies, driving the price up. Local governments usually can add a percent or two to the state rate. Alcohol, tobacco also get a "sin tax" added, as does lodging, transportation rentals, and restaurants pushing them well above 10%.

A percent or two okay - but the sin tax etc wouldn't apply to telecommunications anyway.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | about 3 months ago | (#47581349)

Free is not as good as before. Mostly because its competitors have adapted. They now offer similar prices and services via their low-cost labels.
- Orange/SoSH is slightly more expensive but it has the best network and service
- Bouygues/B&You use aggressive pricing and discounts. Beside 4G coverage, their service and network are rather poor. They are the most direct competitors of Free.
- SFR/RED has a bit of a trouble keeping up with the competition as they don't offer same service as Orange nor the prices of Bouygues. They still have the second best network and may cover a few areas better than Orange.
- Free has few offers but they are very good and cheap. However their network is the worst. They have a deal with Orange which allows them to have good coverage, however mobile data is severely throttled compared to Orange clients.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (1)

Meeni (1815694) | about 3 months ago | (#47582021)

Yes, but that's exactly what the broadband and GSM US market needs. This is an encroached bunch of crooks with sleezy marketing practices and a captive market. The prices are artificially high, there is little to no competition (except for recent Tmo moves in feb that have resulted in an across the board slash in prices at all operators). The fact that Free is not "so good anymore" because others have matched is exactly what is exciting. I am actually happy with ATT wireless, technically, but not about the price of the service, and the fact that a $75 bill becomes a $100 bill with bogus "tax recovery" BS minilines and overarges for pretty much looking wrong at the phone.

Re: Um... good for whom in the US? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579409)

Un France (but not exclusively), the expectation and the law is that the advertised price is the price that you will pay, period. Even restaurants have service included in the price, tipping is no longer required, expected, nor is it in the habits of locals anymore.
Consumers are well protected overall by legislation, anything aiming to deceive them is considered scandalous and fixed in the following law.
It's not perfect, but it certainly makes day-to-day life easier.

Re: Um... good for whom in the US? (3, Informative)

christophe (36267) | about 3 months ago | (#47580509)

French Free customer here.

The expectation is that the advertised price is the price that you will pay, right, and that's usually the case. But "advertised" means sometimes that the subscrition is N euros, and it is not clear (or in very small letters) that the compulsory routeur is M euros, and other options are X eurs, or that the price will double after 6 months, and so on. Our main provider (Orange, formerly France Telecom) and the others are very fond of this game. But Free does not, the 20 euros is really all included, no surprise.

As for tipping, it still exists in France, on a smaller scale. I often let 1 euro on the table if I'm pleased by the service.

Re: Um... good for whom in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47581127)

Even restaurants have service included in the price, tipping is no longer required, expected, nor is it in the habits of locals anymore.

As for tipping, it still exists in France, on a smaller scale. I often let 1 euro on the table if I'm pleased by the service.

Off topic, but I was under the impression that, in many European countries, tipping is a practice reserved for exceptional service, and it's been like that for a long time. I thought it was mainly the U.S. where tipping less than 15% is basically an insult.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579169)

The listed prices in Europe are the prices you pay, so that 20€ already has taxes included.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (1)

paulatz (744216) | about 3 months ago | (#47580453)

FYI taxes are always included in the price in Europe. Free's 20€ are actually 19.99€ that get out of your pocket.

Re:Um... good for whom in the US? (1)

klui (457783) | about 3 months ago | (#47579523)

Free is the French ISP whose business model influenced sonic.net in the US--no limits/caps, all features included for one price. If Free continues its disruptive model, I think that would be a good thing for consumers.

Rejected! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578567)

According to TmoNews, this was rejected.

http://www.tmonews.com/2014/07/french-telecoms-company-iliad-makes-bid-for-t-mobile-us/

Re:Rejected! (4, Interesting)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 3 months ago | (#47578871)

I bet I know why they rejected it: If they accept it, then they'll miss out on the $2 billion Sprint will have to pay them when Club Fed rejects the takeover.

However after that takeover fails (you already know it will,) they pass go and collect $2 billion, and then they can consider Iliad's bid again.

Re:Rejected! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 months ago | (#47579107)

However after that takeover fails (you already know it will,)

It had better fail. Corporate consolidation in the US has been a disaster.

Re:Rejected! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579275)

Not for the CEO's bonus checks! It sure does screw the consumer although.

Re:Rejected! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47581519)

Actually a merger with sprint might actually work out. It'd give them additional spectrum as a combined company, which is a good thing.

Iliad: They aren't worth much, $16B, Tmo US is worth c. $25B so IMNHO this would be a HORRIBLE deal as Iliad would need to recoup that monies somewhere, guess where... as they'll have to borrow TONS of monies.

BTW: You guys know that Tmo US already has cheap plan right? Contract free? I don't see exactly what Iliad is bringing that should the cash end be kosher that would be better than a Sprint merger. Failing Sprint I'd be happier status quo.

Re:Rejected! (1)

jeepies (3654153) | about 3 months ago | (#47579435)

If they pass go and collect $2 billion, Illiad's bid will have to go up $2 billion.

Re:Rejected! (1)

usuallylost (2468686) | about 3 months ago | (#47580693)

I hope you are correct. I have already had Sprint burn down one mobile phone Company around me, NexTel, and I don’t look forward to going through that again. This seems like a much better deal for consumers to me.

Actually Sprint has screwed me twice with mobile phones. I had a Sprint Spectrum phone when they just pulled the plug on that network rending my phone useless. They got sued and the worthless class action made some lawyers rich and they gave those of us who lost the use of $300 phones $50 gift certificates to use toward buying new $300 phones from Sprints new service. The second time was when they burned down Nextel. Frankly I am seriously dreading the idea of going through that crap again.

Re:Rejected! (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47580849)

I think you keep phones a bit too long. The point of an acquisition is an integration. They haven't "burned down those networks" they use their bandwidth and towers as part of their integrated offerings. Take a look at diagrams of what their towers do.

Re:Rejected! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47581957)

Switch to T-Mo and they'll pay your ETF i fyou trade in your phone. FWIW, you don't have to trade in the shiney Galaxy S4... just a phone active on the line. We were able to keep / gift out S4 and hand in a near worthless HTC phone.

Re:Rejected! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47582743)

the flaw in your plan is that the feds won't reject a sprint/tmobile merger. they love fucking over consumers to aid corporate campaign contributors and their lobbyists

Canada. (1)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | about 3 months ago | (#47578607)

If true, please buy something in Canada.

Re:Canada. (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 3 months ago | (#47580783)

Free provides two simple low cost offers – a Euro 19.99 per month plan (including 3GB mobile data & unlimited calls & SMS) and a Euro 2 per month plan (including 50MB mobile data & 2 hours of calls a day & unlimited SMS).

According to Google the current exchange rate means 2 Euros equals 2.93 Canadian Dollars.

Two hours of call per day, unlimited SMS and 50MB of data per month for around 3$CAD? The other carriers will have a fucking stroke if a competitor ever offered that.

Hell, even if you cut that to one hour of call per day and remove both the SMS and data it's still a lot cheaper than anything currently available, pre-paid or not.

Perspective (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578623)

As a French, I'm not sure that I like that idea, Free spending lots of money to buy marketshare in the US instead of enhancing their network in France.

AOL tried to do the inverse a while ago. They bragged that they were leaders in 'America', about to obliterate French providers. It ended awfully for them.
Free (and SFR, others) killed them.

Re:Perspective (3, Interesting)

Salgat (1098063) | about 3 months ago | (#47578645)

They are doing it to increase revenue/future profit. This is a long term strategy, don't be fooled into thinking they are doing this to be charitable. I think it's great because it means they will have more money to invest in infrastructure in the future.

Re:Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578673)

No, they are not doing it - they are dreaming. Frees market cap is HALF of the other offer.

Re:Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578781)

No, they are not doing it - they are dreaming. Frees market cap is HALF of the other offer.

Smaller companies eat larger companies all the time. It just requires the ability to borrow large amounts of money. With enough claims of synergies, and future returns, you can always find some fool^Winvestor to provide the money.

Re:Perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578723)

Another reason is that the current stock market values growth over income.

Make a company that is hemorrhaging cash, but is "expanding" into markets, and you can have a nice, fat IPO.

Make a company that makes a king's ransom from an established market, and there is no chance of getting the market to even fart in your general direction.

Re:Perspective (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47578753)

Think of it as farming. You look after the truffle pig or milk cow and get years of productivity. The French understand this, like many other nations, you invest well and use the profits in other countries to build up real infrastructure back in France. Think of it as a farm or colony or investment. The extracted cash flows back one way :)
With the correct use of ads, plans and that new boss feeling the consumers will herd themselves for free enjoying freedoms, good value and choice.

Re:Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579257)

Put down the bong dude... https://www.economy.com/dismal... [economy.com]

Re: Perspective (2)

Antonovich (1354565) | about 3 months ago | (#47579355)

Yes, yes, yes. If they absolutely must expand then expand here in Europe. But they should be spending more money here in France though making sure they can actually serve more than... 25% of the territory, rather than taking on the world. They have changed France but their kind of disruption only ever works if you know how to massage the system, and I seriously doubt old Xavier will be able to do that outside France.

As a T-mobile subscriber... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 3 months ago | (#47578637)

The sooner the better. It couldn't possibly get worse.

...unless I go back to AT&T, I guess...

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (3, Insightful)

Richy_T (111409) | about 3 months ago | (#47578803)

Good news... For anyone who lives in a city with coverage and never travels.

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#47578905)

T-Mobile is aware of their shortcomings: http://explore.t-mobile.com/test-drive-free-trial [t-mobile.com]

T-Mobile has been making a huge push in Voice over LTE (VoLTE) on the 700 MHz band
nd I imagine that as everyone switches over, it won't matter which carrier you have,
since eventually you'll be able to roam on any network.

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578993)

If only they offered LTE in my area. For a city with half a million people, according to the last census, exactly 1 of their towers is LTE. That tower is also located in the worst possible area for covering customers, so I'm not exactly sure how many can use it because it is about two miles out of town and on a low density side of town (the population in every other area goes from 2,500 plus to almost zero, rather than tapering off.

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579291)

Does that 1 LTE tower happen to be located in a very wealthy neighborhood? If not, I sure would be interested in who talked them into putting it there or how did they come to that decision anyways.

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580789)

Yes. It is in one of the resident's backyard.

You are an idiot for even asking this

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (3, Informative)

schnell (163007) | about 3 months ago | (#47579443)

it won't matter which carrier you have, since eventually you'll be able to roam on any network.

Nope, sorry. For three reasons:

  1. 1.) VoLTE on one carrier is not necessarily compatible with VoLTE on another carrier. VoLTE is not plain VoIP - like Skype etc. - where it is a pure "over the top" Layer 7 application that any IP network should support. It is built at a much lower layer in the OSI stack, and each carrier's implementation will be optimized for their own network and may not be compatible with another carrier's.
  2. 2.) To roam on "any network" (at least in the US) requires your phone to be able to access all the different LTE bands licensed to different carriers. Most phones sold in the US don't because it costs extra money to support the frequency bands of multiple carriers which is pointless when 95% of customers will use the phone for its two-year lifetime on the carrier that they bought it from
  3. 3.) Also - to roam onto another network, by the way that GSM cellular technology works, your home carrier must have a roaming agreement with the "other" carrier. Generally speaking, the big US carriers have roaming agreements for international use and for remote rural use, but not in domestic areas where they have their own networks. The simple explanation is that if you lose your Verizon signal for a second and your phone tries to go roam onto T-Mobile, that costs VZ a lot of money.... whereas in that area it's more likely that you will get a VZ tower back within a few minutes and not cost them any roaming fees if you didn't attach to a roaming network. TL;DR - somebody will always pay more if you are using a network other than your "home" carrier, and that somebody will end up being you - at a rate that will make it economically unfeasible.

Lastly, if you thought that VoLTE was going to mean that you could just use any given carrier at your convenience, I'm sorry but that's just not how cellular works. In the mobile (GSM and its successor technologies like LTE) world, you have a "home" carrier (who gave you your SIM and sends you your monthly bill) and you will always use your home carrier whenever possible because it's less expensive for them. To use another carrier - even if they have better coverage in a certain area, and your device has the other carrier's frequencies enabled - means that your home carrier will absorb roaming charges and they will pass those along to you. With a markup. So it makes no economic sense for you or your carrier to just let you use the network that has the strongest signal in any given area... or if they do, be prepared to pay out the frickin' wazoo for every time you surf the web on a carrier that isn't your home provider.

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47581943)

None of this makes any sense. T-Mobile charges no roaming fees in the US. I frequently visit small towns that only have 1 carrier (usually AT&T or Verizon) and I never get charges for roaming on their systems. It's the same with the other big companies. They all have roaming agreements with each other so that none of them charge for domestic roaming.

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (4, Interesting)

cbhacking (979169) | about 3 months ago | (#47579445)

The west coast in general has good TMo coverage (all the cities including the little ones, every time I checked when driving the I-5 from Seattle to SF, and the local ski areas) but the only other place I've checked was in DC (where it was fine). However, I scarcely even consider that "travel". For *REAL* travel, TMo is by far the best carrier option. I spent a month in Europe earlier this year. Six countries, and I had service everywhere in every one of them including on the Swiss ski slopes. I sent/received well over a thousand texts and a number of MMS, streamed music all day (at 128Kbps, that adds up fast), did email and web browsing and so forth, and Skyped with friends and family. I also received several calls which I let go to voicemail, then checked the voicemails. All on my normal US T-Mobile SIM card.

Extra cost for all that stuff while abroad? $0.00.

It would have cost something to use voice calls over the cellular network, but with things like Skype or Google Voice (plus the free and unlimited - though not super-fast - data), that was never needed. T-Mo's "WiFi Calling" feature also lets you make or receive calls, while overseas, without any charge as long as you're on WiFi. I'm planning to visit Indonesia soon, and T-Mobile says I'll be covered there too. It's a *fantastic* carrier for people who travel.

Re:As a T-mobile subscriber... (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 3 months ago | (#47586387)

Useful info. Thanks.

Please NO (5, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | about 3 months ago | (#47578641)

Please everyone just leave T-Mobile alone. They are doing great the last few years. I don't want them ruined by Sprint or Iliad or Dish or anyone else!

Competition is good and T-Mobile is proof of it. Even if you don't use T-Mobile and never will, you have STILL BENEFITED from many of the things they have done lately which have been forcing other carriers to make changes.

Just today:
"T-Mobile posted its second quarter earnings today, and the carrier is continuing momentum as far as customer acquisition is concerned. The Uncarrier managed to add an additional 1.5 million customers in the second quarter, which makes it the fifth consecutive quarter in which the carrier added more than 1 million subscribers. The influx of new customers meant that T-Mobile's revenue rose by 15.4 percent to $7.2 billion. 50 million total subscribers now."

Re:Please NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578799)

I'm from Germany,
And I really hate the Telekom which T-Mobile is a subsidiary of.
They are as bad as Comcast in the USA.
I tried to cancel my dead!! Dads DSL+Phone Account, but they insist I have to wait till December.
I think they would only take me serious if I sued them.
If T-Mobile USA is as bad as there Mother Company I would not deal with them.

Re:Please NO (1)

dbc (135354) | about 3 months ago | (#47578937)

T-Mobile is not that bad here. In our family we've had two T-Mobile phones and one AT&T phone for a couple of years, after leaving Verizon. Verizon is bad news to deal with. AT&T doesn't care, they don't have to, but at least they have coverage where I need it and use GSM technology. T-Mobile is good to deal with, but the coverage is not so great. The problem with the USA, especially in the West, is that we have miles and miles of miles and miles. Building out and maintaing infrastructure is much harder here than in Germany or France simply because of the population density distribution. T-Mobile just has a hard time coming up with enough money to build enough infrastructure to grab enough customers to make enough money to build enough infrastructure.

Re:Please NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579371)

Isn't that because it's Germany? I've heard that Germany is where bureaucrats go when they die.

Re:Please NO (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 3 months ago | (#47580165)

Germany has that reputation in Europe, and rightfully so compared to its neighbours. Compared to the US though, it is a smooth nonsense-free paradise.

Re:Please NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580785)

That's because they are the big dog in Germany. Your Comcast analogy is a good one. In the US, they are considered one of the smaller competitors.

Re:Please NO (3, Interesting)

synaptik (125) | about 3 months ago | (#47579017)

Please everyone just leave T-Mobile alone. They are doing great the last few years.

I agree, but T-Mobile is doing great because they don't *want* to be left alone. They are being so aggressive with their pricing because they want to be targetted for a buy-out. Their parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG, has made it clear that they want out of that business.

Lowered 5 to 10? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578667)

...lowered the price of plans by a 5 to 10 factor.

Would someone please explain WTF this means?

If a monthly rate of 10 zorkmids is reduced by 5 to 10 times, then the company would be paying you 40 to 90 zorkmids per month.

I can see why people might be enthusiastic about that, but I doubt that that is what actually happens.

Re:Lowered 5 to 10? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578795)

5 times lower, 10 times lower.
Poorly written.
It just means that if something was $100 before, it's now down to $20 or $10, depending on the service, which is good.

Re:Lowered 5 to 10? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580395)

They say it like this instead of saying 'reduced to a fifth' or 'reduced to a tenth' of original price, because relative sizing of fractions is something consumers (most famously American consumers, but it's observable anywhere) have difficulty understanding.

I had no greater trouble visualising 'reduced by X times' compared to 'times lower', but I find this 'always talk in multiples' strategy generally a bit braintiring and sometimes a bit disreputable.

Big M&A are bad for customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578683)

It means the combined entity will be saddled with debt that will be financed, in part, by higher prices and/or diminished services. A bad deal except for top management, including those of the acquired company who generally depart via golden parachutes.

For Sell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47578825)

The French are coming, The French are coming...

Because Taxes (1, Interesting)

Jodka (520060) | about 3 months ago | (#47578973)

U.S. companies are worth more to foreign companies than to other U.S. companies because foreign companies pay lower income taxes. A U.S. company, Emerson, lost a bid to a French company, Schneider, for APC [wikipedia.org] for that reason. As the WSJ states [wsj.com] (free access to the paywalled article via FaceBook [facebook.com] ):

In 2006, Emerson sought to acquire a company called American Power Conversion (APC). This was a Rhode Island-based company that made more than half of its earnings outside the U.S. Unfortunately, Emerson competed against Schneider Electric, a French company, to acquire APC. Emerson offered more than $5 billion, but ultimately Schneider acquired APC by offering a bid in excess of $6 billion.

Why was Schneider willing to offer more? Schneider outbid us because France's tax code—typical of most OECD countries—exempts 95% of foreign-source income from taxation, while the U.S. tax code fully taxes such income. APC's profits were worth more to Schneider because, once absorbed, APC's global profits (net of the taxes paid in the countries where those profits were earned) could be repatriated to Schneider's headquarters in France, where they would be taxed at less than 2%.

In contrast, earnings repatriated to the U.S. are subject to a tax rate of nearly 40%, with a credit for taxes paid abroad on that income. That dramatic difference made it possible for Schneider to offer more for APC. So what had once been an American company became French.

Re:Because Taxes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579187)

Oh please, not this shit. Do you not pay attention to US companies playing games with accounting and taxes? I can tell you no US corporation with any decent CFO is paying anywhere close to the published tax rate; it is anywhere from the teens to the single digits. Some very profitable companies end up having no tax liability.

Re:Because Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47581091)

I can tell you no US corporation with any decent CFO is paying anywhere close to the published tax rate; it is anywhere from the teens to the single digits. Some very profitable companies end up having no tax liability.

That's true of foreign corporations as well. The point that matters here though is if buying another company makes it easier or harder to hide the money so as to minimize taxes.

Note that one of the tax minimization methods is to hide revenue internationally. This is easier for a foreign company than a domestic company (in the sense that is better to hide the revenue in the foreign company). In particular, it is much easier for a foreign hosted multinational than a domestic-only company.

A side issue is that it is less profitable for a foreign company to hide income than for a US company.

Re:Because Taxes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579509)

> U.S. are subject to a tax rate of nearly 40%,

And that is why the US leads the world in the morales of corporations. We correctly hate them and anyone dishonest enough to associate themselves with those horrible groups. We fuck them harder than any other country in the world. The US needs to start enforcing sanctions against countries like France that are so horrific that they do not impose fair taxes on those dishonest groups of crooks. Of course that will never happen since the Republicans rule this shithole.

Because Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580541)

"subject to a tax rate of nearly 40%, with a credit for taxes paid abroad on that income". Depending on where that income is earned, the foreign tax rate may eliminate the US tax; As evidenced by several of our largest US HQ'd corporations paying 0% taxes. As for your insinuation that a foreign company owning T-Mobile would pay less taxes... that simply isn't true because T-Mobile would still pay US taxes for US earned income. The only reason WSJ had an argument about Emerson v. Schneider is because APC "made more than half of its earnings outside the U.S.". I think it's also worth mentioning that T-Mobile is a German company so their tax liability is not clear cut.

Meh (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47579547)

The US market is pretty much dominated by oligopolies. I don't think with laws, markets, and consumers who are backwards there will be much innovation.

I've worked in telecom, for T-Mobile and it's just ingrained in the system.

The fact that costs decrease as newer "next gen" networks are implemented but prices do not go down accordingly is a mockery of our intelligence. Marketing, ftw?

You can literally find white papers from sony ericcson, Nokia, etc documenting it as a selling point for upgrading the network.

When the GSM networks were "edge" it costed with taxes, drawing a profit, around $8 per user, per month. Text messages are essentially free for the carrier (due to how they work on the network). With more or less VOIP calls, calls to are getting there (free).

Don't get me wrong, I'd love competition. America just hates it.

Re:Meh (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 3 months ago | (#47580691)

Text messages are essentially free for the carrier (due to how they work on the network).

There are some large overheads when it comes to SMS storing for delivery later as well as high availability implementations. SMS is free to the network if you don't request any delivery retention (ie: keep delivering for a week, otherwise discard) and don't go through a gateway. Most phones don't even support setting that parameter to 0 today nor gatewayless message delivery.

Re:Meh (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | about 3 months ago | (#47580853)

My plan is much cheaper than it was 10-15 years ago when I had something like 250 minutes for 50 a month and 10 cent a minute for over that.

Xavier Niel is Good News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580033)

Xavier Niel, founder of Free/Iliad, is the absolute best thing that could happen to America's telecom services. He has completely shaken up the stodgy French telecom market. The value prop for telecom is so much better than several years ago. If you like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, you'll love Xavier Niel. He thinks out of the box.

Xavier Niel even showed up at a Paris Hackathon to check out what was going on. I thought that was tres cool. He's experimenting with new approaches to learning computer science in schools and is opening up Europe's biggest tech incubator. He doesn't just talk-the-talk, he makes it happen.

um (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 3 months ago | (#47580107)

T-mobile is already quite cheap if you use their SIM and bring your own phone.

I support this over Sprint.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580115)

..buying T-Mobile.

Because I think the United States system is stagnant, lacks competition, and bilks consumers for everything.

We are paying 8x too much for wireless service and internet service today. Example: In the days of dialup, competition between ISPs set the rate at $9.95 for unlimited service, while some so called "premium services" cost between $17.95 and $19.99/mo, for the likes of AOL & AT&T WorldNet). Since competition ended thanks to broadband monopolies giving you 1 or 2 choices for service, prices skyrocketed to $40 then $60 and so on. They even have plans that cost $300 now.

But the service underneath those prices is exactly the same.

If Free enters the market with purchasing controlling stake in T-Mobile, and applies the business model they deploy, we could be talking about wireless service being sold at cost again, which is in the range of $5 bucks and maybe $20 - $30 bucks tops for completely unlimited service w/o caps. Free's current pricing model cost $26.76 US Dollar for 3GB data with unlimited voice and text. However T-Mobile charges $60 for that, and competitors charge closer to $80 under contract. Switch to Prepaid and that level of service cost $45 with Straight Talk.

Technically we should do away with caps as they equate to simply a way for the company to try to bilk customers more by extra charging for use when they already make a mint off the service they get paid for.

Re:I support this over Sprint.. (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 3 months ago | (#47580657)

Nothing will happen. Why? Because t-mobile exists in a whole slew of other countries (in the UK they're so much more reasonable than the US deals) and they all operate differently. When mobile firms are bought up by foreign companies, I rarely have seen a change in pricing strategy.

Re:I support this over Sprint.. (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 3 months ago | (#47580885)

No the service is not the same. In one case they were leveraging the existing PSTN for last mile delivery and you were paying for a feed around 30kbis. Today you are paying for last mile in your internet and the feed is around 30mbis a 1000x more data. Moreover the usage is more frequent which means less sharing with things like TV video. So in reality it is closer to 5000x as much bandwidth required by the carriers. That is not free.

Internet is good here because people have been willing to pay lots for it. In the days of cheap ISPs they weren't willing to pay lots. In the days before that, internet was often metered something like $6/hr to use at 2400 baud.

Re:I support this over Sprint.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47582415)

Have you used Straight Talk? Even with a T-Mo SIM it is not even close to the same service as T-Mo's Uncarrier plan.

I did it backwards having gone from Straight Talk to T-Mobile both on T-mobile sims. It looked to me that the Straight talk SIM was 'low tier' priority on the towers, often tumbling between LTE / 4G / 3G / no service etc. It also doesn't use T-mobile's MMS / SMS system which = phone is wonkey for TXT / MMS and MMS just never goes through if it's over a size threshold they don't share with you. It was so bad I ordered an AT&T SIM to see it it was any better on AT&T's network. Before activating it I hit the data cap on Straight talk which effectively hobbled my smart phone and that alone was worth immediately switching to T-Mo. Once on a 'real T-Mo sim with the uncarrier plan all of the issues I was having went away. I now have 3 phones on T-Mo multi-line plan and am very happy with it.

Bottom line, Straight-talk is crap service aimed at the bottom dwellers of the mobile market who don't mine 'no service, txt/mms that don't send and don't own mare than one phone in the household.

No no no no (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 3 months ago | (#47580177)

International carriers have already said that the spectrum allocation in the US makes turning T-Mobile into a good efficient high quality low cost carrier like the rest of the world is impossible. Also this French group doesn't have the cash to buy T-Mobile and there's no indication they can leverage T-Mobile even more than it is now to buy it. No, I'm sorry but Obama's FCC will get their wish which is to let T-Mobile die so Verizon and AT&T can pick up their customers for almost no cost. Sprint's going out of the retail branded business in a year or two so that will leave 2 carriers in the US to jack prices to the sky and make service even worse.

This might just be bad news. (2)

Gobelet (892738) | about 3 months ago | (#47580223)

French here. Iliad's strategy might be good in the short term for consumers, but in the long run, this might just have catastrophic consequences. Let me explain.

They have the same strategy as Easyjet when they entered the air travel market - low prices and agressive marketing. Indeed, people sometimes didn't need all the "options" other airlines made them get, like assigned seats, meals. It makes sense on short trips : Nice-Geneva is a 45 minute flight, and you sure don't need food, beverages, or a specific seat on the plane for short-haul flights.

This worked well, too - many local airlines crashed and burn when they couldn't compete with their prices. The perverse effect, now, is that Easyjet is the only option for many routes, and they hiked up the prices when they didn't have anybody left as concurrence.

The telecom market in France is currently tanking - you need a license to operate on GSM airwaves. The government opened up for a fourth carrier, Free took the shot and announced their aggressive pricing. The others had to follow suit, and that was before deploying 4G, a huge infrastructure cost for carriers. They signed a roaming deal with Orange in order to provide service everywhere, but terms were not really well set, and Orange's network was sometimes overloaded by Free's subscribers.

Now all the carriers in France offer the same deal as Free. Sure, the customer is happy with that, but carriers now have less and less cash to improve infrastructure, and it has desastrous effect on quality of service. Recently SFR, once the second biggest carrier, got sold to a Dutch company. Bouygues Telecom, the third biggest carrier, is for sale. Free is breathing in their neck, offering to buy it for less than what it's worth. Orange offered to buy them but withdrew their offer.

SFR's network is dwindling fast, Bouygues no longer has the economic power to improve, Orange is still afloat because it's the spin-off of France Telecom, the old public phone company, and Free is still there, working on their network at the slowest pace ever because they don't have the cash to build up,

Everyone is slowly crashing. As soon as Bouygues is out of the picture and SFR will no longer be competitive, Free will be able to hike the prices, just like they did on their ADSL offer.

Low prices is not always good for the customer.

This might just be bad news. (3, Insightful)

christophe (36267) | about 3 months ago | (#47580619)

Another French here. I don't think the higher prices that we paid before Free appeared were so good for investments. On the contrary: since Free appeared, Orange and the 2 other providers pushed and marketed heavily the "4G" (LTE), that Free does not offer. They had to compete on quality because they could not cope with the price. In 2005 (Free was not a mobile provider yet) they were together sentenced to 535 million euros due to an unlawful agreement. The market forces did not apply anymore, a big problem on the long term. We did not destroy the France Telecom monopoly in order to have a private oligopoly. Private firms will not invest on hardware if they can avoid it. Either they do it to provide better product or service (and the price will be higher), or they are forced by law.

Re:This might just be bad news. (1)

Gobelet (892738) | about 3 months ago | (#47580791)

Free does offer LTE, actually. Their speed is among the highest among all carriers - at least on speed tests, but you would have to find one of their antennas, they are very sparse. My point still holds: Free cannot deploy their LTE network any faster due to their lack of investment power. They DID snatch 11% of the marketshare but it is also dwindling, since pretty much all French mobile plans are no contract, now. I jumped through all 4 carriers myself, porting my number on each of them. Free cannot hold a candle to Orange or even Bouygues (who used to be the underdog, but their network is top-notch now. The best two are Orange and Bouygues).

SFR is deploying their LTE network at a snail-like pace, because their pockets are empty. Bouygues kind of had to if they wanted to still be relevant on the market. Look where it brought them - to near-bankruptcy.

Plus I don't really understand Iliad's strategy. Buying Monaco Telecom, and now T-Mo USA?

Re:This might just be bad news. (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 3 months ago | (#47580867)

French here. Iliad's strategy might be good in the short term for consumers, but in the long run, this might just have catastrophic consequences. Let me explain.

...

SFR's network is dwindling fast, Bouygues no longer has the economic power to improve, Orange is still afloat because it's the spin-off of France Telecom, the old public phone company, and Free is still there, working on their network at the slowest pace ever because they don't have the cash to build up,

Since you are French I am shocked that you made such a big mistake, but Orange is not a "spinoff" of France Telecom. Orange is France Telecom. The FT name is no more. It is now Orange.

Don't forget the Internet (4, Informative)

Lorens (597774) | about 3 months ago | (#47580237)

Before launching their mobile telephony offering and forcing the previous oligopoly to slash their prices, Free did the same with ADSL Internet (and ISTR with dialup before that). I pay something like USD 45/month for:

- uncapped broadband with static IP and valid rDNS (living in an area well covered by DSL that is about 17 Mbps down, but if/when their fiber gets here I'll pay the same price for 1 Gbps!)

- plus unlimited telephone to fixed and mobiles in France, to fixed in some 100 other countries and to mobile in some countries, relatively low rates otherwise

- a SIM card with unlimited SMS, 50Gb 3G/4G data/month, 2 hours phone (the unlimited version would set me back some USD 22/month more) and extremely competitive rates for anything not included

- Some 600 television channels (some of which you have to pay extra for, sure), with timeshifting, pay-per-view video on demand, and free replay (usually the last week of popular series, depending on the channel)

- an ADSL box "Freebox", extremely well thought out (hello Rani) with a really excellent user interface (web browser, games, what have you), a 4-port gigabit switch, a Blu-Ray reader, a 250 GB disk that can be used as a NAS and for recording television programs

- lots of techie goodies (IPv6 if I want it, messages left on my answering machine can be forwarded to an e-mail address, I can force certain MACs to an IP so that I have the same IP whether connected by WiFi or Ethernet, and, and, and, isn't there a length limit on comments here?)

I'm looking at moving to the US (like SF or NY, https://www.linkedin.com/pub/l... [linkedin.com] ), so I read the Comcast horror stories with interest. In comparison, I have called Free tech support once in six years, after a storm killed my Freebox. It was replaced (without charge I believe), and nobody even hinted that I might like to buy anything more. If they manage to buy a US provider, no question, I'll be their client.

I'll take it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47580431)

Well anything is better than AT&T Wireless [lizardslounge.org] , that's for sure.

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