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The Cultures of Texting In Europe and America

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the thumbs-are-slow dept.

Social Networks 207

Ponca City, We Love You writes "The cultures of text messaging are very different in Europe and North America, according to an internet sociologist named Danah Boyd. Americans and Canadians have historically paid to receive text messages, but 'all-you-can-eat' data plans are beginning to change that. All-you-can-eat plans are still relatively rare in Europe. When a European youth runs out of texts and can't afford to top up, they simply don't text. But they can still receive texts without cost so they aren't actually kept out of the loop. What you see in Europe is a muffled fluidity of communication, comfortable but not excessive. "

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207 comments

First post?? (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475733)

Hmmmm nobody seems to be very interested in this story. I can see why, the text of the story itself is enough to put someone to sleep. A long blog entry in small type with no pictures, and not especially interesting anyway.

People text until they have to start paying for text messages, then they don't text so much. Is this really surprising? College students and high schoolers text more often. That's about it.

Re:First post?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21475779)

I know - this is a post worthy of Kdawson.
 
I take that back - It's a strange strange day where a Kdawson post is the most actively replied story.

Slow time in "Computers" ? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21475871)

Slow time in "Computers" or is this nonsense you call stories what I should expect ? If this is "nerd talk", I have to wonder who these nerds are, because these nerds look like grocery line people with nothing better to do than thumb the tabloids. Being here is to teh suck

Re:First post?? (3, Informative)

slimey_limey (655670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475911)

It's not that nobody is here. Thing is, the story was retroposted by something exceeding two hours.

Re:First post?? (2, Interesting)

harmonica (29841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476399)

I didn't know about how people are charged in America, so this was interesting to me. The sheer number of text messages sent by typical teenagers was also a point of interest.

The font size is normal. If you consider that text long, how did you manage to get through school, let a alone a typical Slashdot comments page? As for the lack of pictures: this is not kindergarten. Nobody needs those symbolic images used in typical online news articles that never add anything to the story (a candidate in this case: a picture of someone using a cellphone).

Re:First post?? (2, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476815)

The font size is normal.

Last time I checked 'x-small' was not considered normal.

CC.

US telecoms are quite... peculiar (5, Insightful)

zanderredux (564003) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475753)

I, for the life of me, cannot understand why in the US telecom users get billed for stuff they receive. I read somewhere that it had to do with technical limitations around billing systems and that it just became like that by tradition (or because US law made it impossible to reverse it)

Clearly, who makes the call is the party who has the necessity to communicate, not the receiving end. Why continue to bill in a way that contradicts basic economic reasoning???

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1, Insightful)

Z80xxc! (1111479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475811)

Quite simply because they want more money. Charge them sending and receiving and you get twice as much.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (4, Insightful)

mah! (121197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475833)

for the life of me, cannot understand why in the US telecom users get billed for stuff they receive.

hear, hear. [slashdot.org]
Not only this, but this mechanism of paying for 'airtime' on received calls, just as for received SMSes, is so engrained in most cellphone users minds that they'll strenuously defend its 'logic' (excessive use of quotes intended).

It'd be just as bizzarre to charge the receiving party for a long distance phone call. Yet apparently cellphone users accept it, just as they accept the absurd incompatibility between GSM and CDMA (good thing TDMA got scrapped at least) as inevitable side-effect of a 'free market' (yup, there are those quotes again).
Funnily enough, there are very few [wikipedia.org] other countries around the world who charge cellphone users for receiving an SMS or a cellphone call... of course, <sarcasm> this is because of GSM's anti-capitalistic approach </sarcasm>.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (4, Informative)

dascritch (808772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476489)

I'm in France and before the launching of the GSM, we had a analogue radiotelephone system (commercial name was "Radiocom 2000"). In the beginning of the 1990s, my father got one in his car, and the number he had was a local one (attached to our town, namely was beginning in 61, latter, with new numbering plan, it would be 05 61, or "geographical" when starting with 01-05). People who called him where paying a "normal" price (the monopolistic france telecom were running very excessive tarrifs at this moment), and he was charged of the price difference. Because of the local number he was allocated, the consumer was believing his call charged as a landline one. With the new numbering system, the "06" prefix was attached to mobile operations, pagers (still some), analogue, and the brand new GSM systems with a public (Itineris, aka France Telecom, finally named Orange) and a private operator (SFR). That prefix (and the ones like "08" for premium charged rates) are differently charged because they are not "geographic numbers". And so, GSM are not billed when they receive calls, but their correspondents are paying more, because they know that "06" is a mobile line. When "triple play" FAI started their box (namely, Free.fr, with internet, tv, and phone), the new phone line you got from their modem had a 087x number attributed. A very big problem, because Free was advertising that their number have a local tarrif everywhere they are called, but France Telecom (historical operator, still proprietary of all the landlines, concurrent with the Wanadoo/Orange brand) was attributing thoses numbers until 1998 the premium numbers. Because of the exploding demand onto these boxes, and to stop the confusion, since last years, all "degrouped" lines via triple-play FAI, have now 09 prefix. Don't think that Orange is raging about that : now they're happy because they hotlin have less angry phonecalls about inconsistent billings...

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475835)

OK, text messages are one thing, but paying extra to CALL a cell phone just sucks. How do you know if you are calling a cell phone? You don't, until you get the bill at the end of the month. So then you have to keep track of who has a cell phone and who doesn't, and when you want to borrow someone else's phone, they always ask, "are you going to call a cell phone?" No way. Let the person who has the cell phone worry about if it is more expensive for them or not.

That was my feeling after living in a place where the caller had to pay extra to call a cell phone. Your feelings may be different. But I doubt it.

Mobile numbers have a distinct prefix here! (4, Informative)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475897)

In most countries you can tell whether a call is to a mobile or not from the number, and you can decide whether you want to pay to call a mobile. For example in Australia, mobile numbers start with 04, and in China mobile numbers start with 13. If a non-mobile number is forwarded to a mobile number, the owner of the forwarded number pays the mobile call rate (as opposed to the caller or the receiver).

Re:Mobile numbers have a distinct prefix here! (2, Informative)

RowanS (1049078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475939)

And also most mobile phone tariffs in Australia now charge the same rate to call a mobile or fixed line anywhere in the country, so it doesn't really matter.

Re:Mobile numbers have a distinct prefix here! (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476529)

Actually, there are certain cellphone numbers in China that look the same as landline numbers. These are PHS phones, and as such are charged the same as landline calls. They're cheaper too (I believe there's some kind of unlimited calling plan for them for about $15-20). They only work in their home city, though- that's how they get treated as landlines.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

mah! (121197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475917)

I accept your reasoning if you accept to pay for receiving long-distance calls. From anywhere.
Go ahead, let the person who receives the long-distance call worry.
How do you know if you are calling long distance or even another country, hmm?

Ah, you'd like to say there's no way to tell whether you're calling a cell phone? But then, how would the company know to charge you more then? Can't you find it out too?

Such are my feelings after using cellphones in both situations for extended periods. Your feelings may be different. And I do not feel arrogant enough to doubt it, if that's what suits yourself...

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476791)

It probably has to do with the fact that cell-phones were primarily business for a while, and like 800 numbers billed the receiver.

Also the non-portability of early phones (attached to cars) probably meant they were not convenient to receive calls on in general and were used mainly for outgoing calls, this meant that weird billing for incoming calls may have been a on-issue.

Lastly, I don't know how it works in other countries, but paying for incoming calls is a small price to not worry about getting telemarketers calling.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476039)

In Australia we have this amazing system where mobile phone numbers start with different numbers to land line numbers.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476125)

In Australia we have this amazing system where mobile phone numbers start with different numbers to land line numbers.


In America we have this amazing system where we can keep our phone numbers regardless of what device we're using. We don't have to tell everyone we've ever met to update their phone books when we change from a land line to a cell phone or from one company to another.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476175)

Can you keep the same landline number in different geographic regions? Didn't think so. How is that any worse than having a different number for landline or mobile? We can keep the same number when we change companies or move a landline within a local area. We can keep our mobile numbers wherever we go, on whichever company we want. The US system gives the carriers an excuse to keep the stupid receiver pays system in place.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476557)

Can you keep the same landline number in different geographic regions? Didn't think so. How is that any worse than having a different number for landline or mobile?


If you change from a landline phone, which is provided by a regional company, to a phone provider that isn't regional, then yes, you can keep the old regional part of the number. And people change phone companies and technologies a little more frequently than they move thousands of miles, so even without that, it's still an advantage.

You consider our billing system stupid, I consider it stupid to ask *ME* to pay extra for what device someone else is using.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21476571)

> Can you keep the same landline number in different geographic regions? Didn't think so.

Yes. It's a service that nobody private normally wants since you have to pay per minute for incoming calls (or have a higher incoming price than a local call), like in the US but it's very easy to get location independent numbers (they start with 0845 or 0870 in the UK). These never change, no matter where you are and can be redirected to fixed or mobile lines. Furthermore, there's this simple service called call forwarding. This can even be done for geographical number for which you no longer have an actual telephone. You have to pay for it of course. In other words; we have the choice and so most people choose differently from the US.

> We can keep our mobile numbers wherever we go, on whichever company we want.

So can we in all of Europe. It's (only/even?) free if you move within one country from the same type of operator to another I admit, but it's definitely possible. Have you ever checked what proportion of people actually use this service?

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (0, Offtopic)

hdparm (575302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476265)

In NZ we have a new Guinness Book record holder [nzherald.co.nz] - texting blindfolded.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21476507)

In America we have this amazing system where we can keep our phone numbers regardless of what device we're using. We don't have to tell everyone we've ever met to update their phone books when we change from a land line to a cell phone or from one company to another.
On the other hand I presume that you have to change your cell phone number if you move (out of the local area). Or does your phone number also not have a regional prefix? Changing providers is also not an issue here (in Germany). Of course you can not make a landline number a cell phone number or the other way round (though there are tariffs where you can transfer your land line number to your cell phone as an additional number).

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476591)

On the other hand I presume that you have to change your cell phone number if you move (out of the local area). Or does your phone number also not have a regional prefix?


You don't have to (any more), though most people do like a local area code if they're planning on staying in the new area. Our geographic area code system is slowly dying, everything is still allocated that way but we keep adding overlays and allowing newer services that are flexible in code allocation (like VOIP).

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

zsau (266209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476521)

So area codes in America aren't geographically based then? Do you always have to dial all ten digits of a number every time you call?

In any case, in Australia most adults who've always had a land line also have a mobile phone, so they actually have two numbers, whereas younger people tend to only have a mobile phone and if they have their own home they might have a landline but not generally use it. (What good is switching your number from a mobile to a landline if you can only receive calls then when you're at home?) The mobile number works just as well in Hobart as in Darwin, and the landline number can be moved to any landline in the same local area.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476691)

So area codes in America aren't geographically based then? Do you always have to dial all ten digits of a number every time you call?

In any case, in Australia most adults who've always had a land line also have a mobile phone, so they actually have two numbers, whereas younger people tend to only have a mobile phone and if they have their own home they might have a landline but not generally use it. (What good is switching your number from a mobile to a landline if you can only receive calls then when you're at home?) The mobile number works just as well in Hobart as in Darwin, and the landline number can be moved to any landline in the same local area.


Area codes are created based on geography, but they're not limited to that geography. I think at this point, most of the US does have to use 10 digit dialing, I vaguely remember hearing that over 50% of the population was in a ten-digit area as of a few years ago, because every major city has had to add new codes that are much more loosely defined.

The historical difference is that in Europe (and much of the rest of the world, presumably Australia though my apologies if not :D ), land lines were relatively expensive and bureaucratic hassles, but in the US they were pretty cheap, so we didn't adopt the cell phone as a form of regular communication. Many people here only had a cell phone "for emergencies" or occasional use, it was never a part of their daily life and the number wasn't important. Their home phone number was, so being able to transfer that important number to the cell and get rid of the landline entirely is a big deal.

If you want to look at it another way, you could switch your landline to a VOIP service for home and keep the number, keeping your cell as it always has been. The idea is that having certain numbers tied to certain devices or services is inherently limiting -- nobody could have predicted VOIP twenty years ago, but it's a more practical choice when it isn't restricted to some specific number block that may stigmatize it.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476373)

paying extra to CALL a cell phone just sucks. How do you know if you are calling a cell phone?

In the UK, all mobile phone numbers start with 7. I believe this is common in other countries as well, so charging more to call a mobile phone is perfectly reasonable in these places.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21476475)

How do you know if you are calling a cell phone? You don't, until you get the bill at the end of the month.
And this I think is the reason for the differences between the US billing system and the European billing system: In the US you don't know whether you call a cell phone, in Europe (well, at least in all countries I know the system) you know it's a cell phone by the prefix.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

zsau (266209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476561)

04xx xxx xxx = pay extra (mobile, anywhere in Australia)
03 9xxx xxxx = don't pay extra (Melbourne)

just the same as

02 xxxx xxxx = pay extra (NSW, ACT)
03 5xxx xxxx = pay extra (regional Victoria)
1800 xxx xxx = pay less (free call)

I gather Americans like their system of conflating mobile numbers and local numbers because you can easily switch from one to another, but I'd personally like to know if I'm calling a mobile so I can know how likely they are to answer it. And number portability would confuse everyone if you could take a landline number from Melbourne to a mobile in Perth, but with a separate prefix my mobile number doesn't care where I live.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476755)

I'd personally like to know if I'm calling a mobile so I can know how likely they are to answer it.


That's precisely part of the reason we *didn't* allow cell phones to get stuck on a different prefix, we didn't want people to be treated differently because they were using a cell number (whether good different or bad different). We wanted cell service to be a transparent addition to the existing phone network, and only the cell customers would have to worry about any adaptations that were necessary or extra expenses.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

Ed Thomson (704721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476641)

How do you know if you are calling a cell phone?

The same way I know that I am going to have a higher telephone bill at the end of the month when calling twenty year old Cindy at my favourite sex line.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475869)

Why continue to bill in a way that contradicts basic economic reasoning???
To play devil's advocate...

You have the option to not pick up - especially with caller ID coming by default on most cell service.

Ultimately, a call requires the same resources, on your provider's end, whether you make or receive it.

It is arguably more contradictory of basic economic reasoning to try and figure out some consistent rate that receiving service providers get paid by the calling provider being the sole billing party.

Say it is agreed that 10c/min should be split 5c for the calling provider's costs, 5c for the recipient's network.

The calling provider can now never offer free calls after Xpm because they're still responsible for giving 5c to a third party. Even if they are willing to offer their own lines for free after a certain time, they still have to pay out.

Similarly, say the recipient manages to dramatically increase efficiency and it now only costs them 3c. They're never going to agree to only bill 3c while their competitor takes 5c. They'll push for the same 5c and simply drop their own calls to 8c a minute (3c for them, 5c for the competitor) to have more attractive policies. The competitor manages the same efficiency increase and we're stuck with 8c/minute calls both ways instead of the 6c it actually ought to cost.

So, in terms of economic simplicity, it actually makes far more sense that each end charges their customer whatever they want to charge, whether coming or going, and leaves it up to the customer to decide whether or not to call/answer.

Not saying I like that reality (I'm an Englishman living in California and I quite liked not paying to receive calls). However, I can understand it in terms of simplicity.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476045)

How about the phone companies have wholesale pricing. If you put a call onto my network you pay me $x/min. You then pass this back to the guy who made the call. It means that each link in the chain is a customer of the next guy and believe me, billing systems are the part they get right every time. Given that phone companies are evil, greedy bastards do you think they will trust each other to share costs? No, they'll treat each other as customers. It's one of the reasons why it's cheaper to call some countries and not others.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (2, Interesting)

cyberwench (10225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476143)

Unfortunately, simply choosing not to pick up won't necessarily make a difference. I had the most ridiculous bill when I was down in the States visiting despite my not picking up any calls that came in. The reason was, the cell company billed you for the roaming call simply because they had to use other people's lines to make the phone ring - regardless of whether you picked it up or not. Good luck finding that one in the FAQ.

Thankfully, I'm finally rid of this horrible company and I'm on a nice tiny plan where I never pay more than $15 a month for exactly the same service I was paying $60-$150 a month for before.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21476747)

Believe it or not, cross-connect call charging is not done on a per-call-per-minute basis. It would be infeasible to track and collate that sort of information between all the network providers. Instead networks have cross-connect agreements with a fixed cost, based on the expected traffic they'll route onto the other providers networks. The originating network can pass on whatever charges they like to their users.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476219)

I, for the life of me, cannot understand why in the US telecom users get billed for stuff they receive. I read somewhere that it had to do with technical limitations around billing systems and that it just became like that by tradition (or because US law made it impossible to reverse it)

Clearly, who makes the call is the party who has the necessity to communicate, not the receiving end. Why continue to bill in a way that contradicts basic economic reasoning???


Because it's the person receiving who has chosen to use a more expensive device for his communication needs. The caller has no control over what kind of a phone the person has, and it shouldn't be their responsibility to have to figure it out.

The legal history also requires that phone numbers not be allocated based on devices, because when they were we had a lot of trouble with people spamming fax machines -- giving out numbers based on devices just makes it easier to wardial. SMS spam is nonexistent in the US because it's impossible to know what numbers are cell numbers. Ultimately the number nondiscrimination law ended up making something far more important very easy, which is number portability. Here in the US, we can take any number with us from a landline to a cell or vice-versa, and between companies without restriction. We couldn't do that if we had special prefixes for different devices or networks.

Ultimately it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Folks under both billing systems have some advantages and some disadvantages. Americans pay some of the lowest amounts for cell phone air time, so it's not as if the system we have is ripping us off for airtime. We have a lot of other problems in our cell industry, but the billing allocation system isn't really one of them.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476451)

SMS spam is nonexistent in the US because it's impossible to know what numbers are cell numbers.

You can't send SMS to landlines in the US?

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (2, Informative)

mah! (121197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476611)

You can't send SMS to landlines in the US?


Mostly not. Amazing eh?
There was no teletext [wikipedia.org] either. (not that the two are related technologies)

Lack of standards in both cases I guess... from wikipedia: "Adoption in the United States was hampered due to a lack of a single teletext standard and consumer resistance to the high initial price of teletext decoders."
The same place which finally produces a reasonable unlimited data plan [att.com] can't seem to offer simple data services such as landline SMSes as standard.
Ah well, pros and cons of living in different places around the globe.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476257)

Yeah, I am sure that phone companies are really worried about this illogic reasoning that brings them extra profit on the short term. Of course, never mind the fact that in the end people try to phone less, they don't have that kind of long term planning.

Oh, and don't believe that it is hard to change the billing system. I remember the beginning of the cell phone era, when texting was free. That's right FREE. I heard that originally it was developed by telecom engineers as a test protocol. Then it was released for clients but nobody thought people would want to type text on a 12 keys keyboard. Here in France, a study has shown that a text message billed 20 or 30 cents to a client costs in fact less than 1 cent to the phone company.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (3, Informative)

grotgrot (451123) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476353)

The reason is because the US does not use dedicated area codes for cellphones like most other countries do. Consequently as a caller you cannot tell the difference between calling someone's home phone vs calling someone's cell phone as they will have the same area code. Conceptually the reason why you have to pay for incoming calls is because the call goes to your home area via conventional means, and then goes by radio to your phone. You have to pay for that last radio hop. (Of course it doesn't really work like this now, but that is how it all started). This also means that you don't get charged extra to call a cellphone as happens in many other countries.

US consumer psychology is also very different. Historically US consumers have always preferred fixed bills versus variable bills, even though many would save money with variable bills. This is the reason that local phones calls are free - the cost is fixed, not actually free. The Internet also took off here early on because of that - plans were almost entirely fixed cost. For cell phones, everyone fixates on the plan with how many bundled minutes it includes (fixed cost). Competition has led to voice minutes being underpriced, so the carriers ding on other services such as data, SMS, sending/receiving picture messages etc. Some carriers (Verizon Wireless) go so far as deliberately crippling features in phones they sell so that the only way to do various things is via them, for a charge. (And in general phones are carrier locked in the US, and cannot be used with another carrier even if unlocked, or can but with significantly reduced functionality). Verizon even went so far as making SMS messages very expensive if you don't buy a bundle to encourage people to sign up for bundles they mostly don't use fully. To put things in perspective, a text message consumes about as much bandwidth as one tenth of a second of voice, but is typically charged the same as 60 to 90 seconds of voice.

Apologies for not being able to cite the consumer preferences for fixed billing source. A story was posted on /. several years about the research paper, but I haven't been able to find it again.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (2, Funny)

bytesex (112972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476383)

Pfff ! Collectively bearing the cost of a service; what are those Americans you speak of - communists ?!

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476697)

The reason is because the US does not use dedicated area codes for cellphones like most other countries do.

That's not the reason. There are mobile-device area codes (e.g., 917) and if it were desired (or desirable), they could be implemented nationwide.

The receiver-pays billing system is a specific policy choice.

There are only two ways to keep termination costs under control.

1) Strictly regulate them: "You may only charge up to US$0.02/minute to terminate a call."

2) Allow the market to sort it out: "Call costs will be borne by the customer, so they have the opportunity to switch to a different carrier if the price is too high."

Not surprisingly (given the prevailing dogma) US regulators chose to go with the free-market approach.

The European system creates a market failure that requires aggressive regulatory intervention because carriers have little incentive to reduce the amount they charge other carriers' customers to call their own customers.

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

xlsior (524145) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476447)

I, for the life of me, cannot understand why in the US telecom users get billed for stuff they receive

Easy -- Because then the carrier gets money twice.

And since that's standard practise among cellphone carriers, it's not like there's a huge incentive for them to stop doing it.

(It is unfortunately, though -- I was pretty much forced to disable texting on my own cellphone because it got a ton of junk texts on it (recycled number?), and didn't feel like paying either the $10 unlimited texting option nor felt like paying $0.10 for each unsollicited message. In essense, they lost the chance to make any money off of me since now I can no longer send any messages either.)

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (1)

skolima (1159779) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476583)

The prices you US citizens pay for GSM are horrendous. Yup, your electronics cost 50% of what most Europe pays, but the cellular operators surely screw you over. On the other hand, in Europe the cellular costs vary greatly. I use prepaid and have to pay a minimum of 20$ per 3 months of usage, which is pretty low. Sms is the main form of communication for me - basic cost with my plan is .4$ . However, I purchase sms packets - 1000 for - guess how much? - 2$. So thats .2cent per message. Other prepaids in Poland offer similar deals. On the other hand, last month I texted quite a lot with a friend in the same network. However, she uses a business plan... and paid over 100$ dollars for our chats!

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (0)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476585)

Clearly, who makes the call is the party who has the necessity to communicate, not the receiving end. Why continue to bill in a way that contradicts basic economic reasoning???

Basic economic reasoning stipulates that you get more efficient markets when the people who are paying for a service have market power.

If you do it the European way, the people who are paying for a call have no ability to select a different provider for the bulk of the charge.

That's why the American way is economically more rational, it's why settlement costs are so much lower in the USA, it's why a growing number of Asian countries are doing it that way, it's why Australia is considering switching, and it's why everyone will do it that way in the long run (unless flat-rate billing takes over first).

Re:US telecoms are quite... peculiar (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476615)

It's quite simple. For a 'dialer pays' system to work, you need to know that a number is a mobile instead of a landline. That means giving out mobile numbers that are different from landline numbers.

That's just not how the U.S. system involved. When the first cellphones came out, the networks were operated by the local/regional telephone companies, and they gave out local telephone numbers for them, from the blocks they had been assigned, just like any other line. (In fact, getting a local number was pretty important, so that people calling you wouldn't have to pay long distance, and neither would you when you called them -- early AMPS plans frequently didn't have unlimited long distance.)

No regional cell operator was in a position to offer nationwide service early on, and there frankly just wasn't that much top-down coordination driving the process (and why should there have been? they were expensive toys for rich people). I doubt that the switching system could have handled a national cellular prefix or area code without a huge overhaul, anyway. That's just not how it was designed. Combined with the fact that there just aren't enough available area codes in the U.S. POTS namespace to give every current area code a secondary 'mobile area code,' and there's just not a feasible way to do dialer-pays.

Plus, I think dialer-pays plans in the U.S. would have held back the adoption of cellphones significantly. One of the reasons people liked cellphones was that it gave you a real, regular local phone number, which happened to be mobile. The calling party never had to know it was mobile. Really, what the U.S. system boils down to is "convenience pays." If you want the convenience of a mobile, you pay for it. The caller just pays for the landline call to wherever the area code that the number is located in, the person with the cell pays for the airtime over the cell network. I think this is pretty fair, actually, and judging by how quickly cellphones became popular, I think a lot of other people did, too. (Also: the only dialer-pays extra-fee numbers in the U.S. are the "1-900" numbers [wikipedia.org] , and they're generally regarded as pretty sleazy; the domain of phone-sex operators and psychics, mostly. Not the sort of thing you want your budding technology associated with.)

In short, a caller-pays system just would not have been feasible in the U.S. given how the system developed, and I think if the issue had been forced, bad things (including a delay in uptake of the technology or consumer rejection) could have resulted. There are fundamental differences between the cellular market in the U.S. and Europe (which stem, in not insignificant part, from the fact that European phone systems were still a lot more centralized during the inception of cellular service than the U.S. was), and I don't think there's really any reason to assume that what works in one place is necessarily the best everywhere. The European system may seem conceptually more consistent, but the U.S. system allows for no-change number portability from landlines to cells, and makes cell lines 'equal' for a caller to a traditional landline.

s/involved/evolved/ (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476627)

Ugh...slay me.

That's "evolved" not "involved." In my defense, I plead 4AM.

Wow, an article about nothing... (1, Offtopic)

jberryman (1175517) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475777)

it's like Seinfeld, but instead of being funny it's mind-numbingly retarded. C'mon Slashdot, wasn't there any Apple nooze in the queue? I'd rather read about the iToaster than this crap.

Re:Wow, an article about nothing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21476343)

it's like Seinfeld, but instead of being funny it's mind-numbingly retarded.
So... just like seinfeld.

Zonk, what the hell are you doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21475807)

Why are you posting "new" stories in the past? Is it because you screwed up and didn't post any stories for 10 hours or so?

fuck amime (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21475809)

Sci-fi is for fags, but it's not nearly as bad as anime.

Seriously, if you watch anime, you suck at life.

The article is too long, here's the summary... (4, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475821)

For peculiar business reasons, Americans n Canadians hv historically paid 2 receive txt messages (although much of Canada has shifted away from this). This creates a stilted social dynamic whereby a friend forces u 2 pay $.10 (o use up a precious token msg in yr plan) simply by deciding 2 send u something. You hv n choice. There's n blocking, n opt-out. Direct 2 jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Needless 2 say, this alters d culture of txtin. From d getgo, Americans hv bn vri cautious about txtin. To b on d safe side, many Americans did not add txtin 2 their plan so sending a txt msg was often futile cuz it was never clear if a txt msg would b received by d fone in question o just disappear into d ether. Slowly, mob users figured out who had SMS n who didn't, but they were still super cautious about sending messages. It just felt rude, o wrong, o risky. Teens, of course, never had this filter. They were perfectly happy 2 txt. So much so that their parents refused 2 get them plans that supported it cuz, not surprisingly, there were all sorts of horror stories about teens who had texted up $700 fone bills. Sure enough, every family that I spoke w told me their version of d horror story n. In d U.S., we don't hv pay-as-u-go so going ova minutes o texts just gets added 2 yr monthly bill. If u're not careful, that bill cn get mighty costly. Unable 2 declare a max cost upfront, parents hv bn tremendously wary of teen txtin simply for economic costs (although d occasional predator o cheating-in-school scare story does surface). Slowly, things hv turned around, primarily w d introduction of cheap all-u-cn-eat txt messaging plans (n those that r so ridiculously high that it's hard 2 go ova). Once d barrier 2 participation s dropped, sending n receiving txt messages switches from bn potentially traumatic 2 outright fun. What a difference those plans make in user practice. The brick leash suddenly turns into an extension of d thumb for negotiating full-time intimate communities. I'm fascinated by how U.S. teens build intricate models of which f? r available via mob n which aren't. Teens know who s on wot plan, who cn b called after 7PM, who cn b called after 9PM, who cn receive texts, who s ova their txtin for d month, etc. It's part of their mental model of their social network n knowing this s a core exchange of friendship. Psychologically, all-u-cn-eat plans change everything. Rather than having 2 mentally calculate d number of texts sent n received (cuz d phones rarely do it for u n d carriers like 2 make that info obscure), a floodgate of opportunities s suddenly opened. The weights r lifted n freedom reigns. The result? Zero 2 a thousand txt messages in under a month! Those on all-u-cn-eat plans go hog wild. Every mundane thought s transmitted n d phones go buzz buzz buzz. Those w restrictive plans r treated w caution, left out of d fluid communication flow n brought in for more practical o content-filled purposes (o by sig others who ignore these norms n face d ire of parents). All-u-cn-eat plans r still relatively rare in Europe. For that matter, plans r relatively rare (while pay-as-u-go options were introduced in d U.S. relatively l8 n r not nearly as common as monthly plans). When a European youth runs out of texts n cn't afford 2 top up, they simply don't txt. But they cn still receive texts w/o cost so they aren't actually kept out of d loop; they just hv 2 call 2 respond if they still hv minutes o borrow a friend's fone. What u c in Europe s a muffled fluidity of communication, comfortable but not excessive. As d U.S. goes from 0 2 all-u-cn-eat in one foul swoop, American txtin culture s beginning 2 look quite different than wot exists in Europe. Whenever I walk into a T-Mobile n ask who goes ova their $10/1000 txt msg plan, d answer s uniform: "every teenager." Rather than averaging a relatively conservative number of texts per month (like 200), gluttonous teen America s already on route 2 thousands of texts per month. They txt like they IM, a practice mastered in middle school. Rather than sending a few messages a day, I'm seeing 20-50+. College students appear 2 txt just as much as teens. Older users r less inclined 2 b so prolific, but maybe this s cuz they r far more accustomed 2 d onerous plans n never really developed a fluid txtin practice while younger. Whatever d case, it's clear by comparing European n American practices that d economics of txtin play a significant role in how this practice s adopted. It's more than one's individual plan 2 cuz there's n point in txtin if yr f? cn receive them. As we watch this play out, I cn't help but wonder about d stupidity of data plan implementation. Just last wk, I went w my partner 2 AT&T 2 activ8 his Nokia N95. He was primed 2 add data 2 his plan cuz of d potential for d fone, but we both nearly had a heart attack wn we learned that 4MB of data would cost $10 n unlimited would cost $70. We walked away w/o a data plan. More n more phones r data-enabled, but only d techno-elite r gonna add such ridiculously costly plans. (And wot on earth cn u do w only 4MB?) It's pretty clear that d carriers do not actually want u 2 use data. The story s even scarier in Europe w n unlimited options. Who actually wants 2 calculate how many MB a site might b n surf accordingly? And forget about social apps w uncontrollable data counts. There's a lot 2 b z about paying 2 not having 2 actually worry about it.


Shamelessly copied/pasted/translated at SMSPUP [smspup.com] , although they need to work more on their filter, I still could read it...

The researcher is !clue (1)

kenblakely (768899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475841)

Euro kids don't text after their free texts have run out? Please. People text in Europe the same way they breath: all the time. The thing about receiving textsbeing free is accurate tho: the result is SMS-spam.

Re:The researcher is !clue (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475867)

You mean receiving text messages for free leads to spam? How? Doesn't this mean that all the cost for sending goes to the spammer?

Re:The researcher is !clue (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475995)

Spammers like to send you a message to call them back. They give you the number of a $50/min line. They started that crap in Australia and got smacked. They're now blitzing the TV with ads for ring-tones and other crap.

You mean receiving text messages for free leads to (1)

kenblakely (768899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476003)

Sending a text costs the same whether it's read or not, so you won't pay to send a lotta text msg if you know they won't get read, right?

Re:The researcher is !clue (1)

novakreo (598689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476421)

Euro kids don't text after their free texts have run out? Please. People text in Europe the same way they breath: all the time. The thing about receiving textsbeing free is accurate tho: the result is SMS-spam.
Funny, I live in a country where receiving SMS is free, and I've never received SMS spam. If anything, it seems like it'd be more likely in a place where the sender pays nothing.

Why do texts cost much anyway? (3, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475861)

A SMS message contains about a hundred bytes of non-time-critical data, which is a pittance compared to a tenth of a second of audio (which is time-critical, at least unless you ask T-Mobile).

SMS's put virtually no load at all on the network infrastructure. Surely some carrier could attract business with free unlimited messages, and it wouldn't cost them a thing.

Why does bottled water cost much anyway? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21475887)

Because they're greedy assholes, that's why.

Re:Why does bottled water cost much anyway? (1)

slimey_limey (655670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475895)

Just you wait until I start my own phone company. Then I'll have free unlimited texts, and where will YOU be? That's right.

Re:Why does bottled water cost much anyway? (0, Offtopic)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476005)

echo evian | rev

or what's evian backwards?

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21475927)

Thats actually not true. SMS messages (at least in the GSM network, which is used mostly in Europe and Australia) are not sent on the same data channel used for voice, they are actually sent on a control data channel, which has much less bandwidth than the voice channel. It is still ridiculous that they cost as much as they do, but there is some reasoning behind it.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476007)

ok then why bother having them in two seperate channels when you can just use a very high frequency low amplitude signal and vary signal strength to represent 0's and 1's to send the texts while not producing any human audible interference? The idea is to use a signal that is too high a frequency to be audible by humans and vary the frequency like FM to avoid data loss from any interference.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476031)

You want to put digital data on an audio carrier that is then digitized? Depending on your carrier, digital phone is encoded at, IIRC, ~8-16 kbps. The other part of the equation is the same people use UDP instead of TCP. You send a packet instead of taking the time to handle a complete connection.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (4, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475977)

Actually, no.

SMS messages use GSM control channels, not the main voice/data channels. Even worse, SMS messages compete for bandwidth with the other service messages (like 'make a call'). So too many SMS messages can easily crash operator's networks.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21476377)

ISTR that initially in the UK, text messages were offered completely free and unlimited.
Then someone tried running slip over text for a free wireless connection between two machines...

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (2, Informative)

xpiotr (521809) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476687)

It depends on the implementation.
There is no Quality of Service connected to sending SMS,
so if there is a flood of SMS coming,
the operator normally caches them and send them at a conveniant time.
Or just throw them, since the is no QoS connected.

A little like when the postman gets tired of carrying your letters and throws some of them.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476751)

In any case, SMS messages are significant burden for operators. So operators naturally want to limit the flow of messages.

At least because nobody would be using SMS if operators were throwing 90% of messages or delaying them for a few days.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

Bent Mind (853241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475979)

I never have understood paying for text messaging.

In my mind, I've been "Texting" for free since the early 90's, in the form of Instant Messaging. You could say since the early 80's if you count chat. I don't understand Cell Phone economics. Offer a service on the Internet, and consumers demand it for free. Offer a service on a cell phone, and consumers will pay you pennies a micro-second. To really sweeten the deal, most cell phones only offer a 12-key sub-micro keyboard that almost requires a toothpick to use and does require pressing keys multiple times to produce single basic characters.

No thanks. I'll stick to instant messaging and chat, along with a full-sized keyboard, for the affordable price of "Free"*.

*I do pay a basic connection fee (flat-fee based on number of bits available to down/upload per second, otherwise known as connection speed) to the Internet. However, this goes to my ISP, not to the message service.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476009)

Your alternative requires you to be in a fixed location, unless your using a mobile phone as a modem. In that case, the billing is far worse.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

Bent Mind (853241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476041)

Your alternative requires you to be in a fixed location
Yes and no. I generally can't use WiFi while driving. I can't really imagine people texting while driving, though I hear that a lot do try to kill themselves in this manor. However, I rarely have a problem getting a connection once I'm at my destination. As a bonus, unless I'm at home, WiFi really is free.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476221)

I can't really imagine people texting while driving, though I hear that a lot do try to kill themselves in this manor.

Many parts of Europe are different from the US in that most people use public transit. You also have to consider that, in a car containing more than one person, not everyone is driving.

Those facts make messaging while being in transit a whole lot more appealing and a lot less dangerous.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476315)

"In this manor"?

It was Col. Mustard, with the cell phone, in the parlor.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (3, Insightful)

NickNameCreateAccoun (1173269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475987)

No load? Please do visit a european country on new years eve, basically all service is out between 23.30-01.00 Just because of the "no load" sms.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

hcmtnbiker (925661) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476043)

No load? Please do visit a european country on new years eve, basically all service is out between 23.30-01.00 Just because of the "no load" sms.

I would be very surprised if it was out because of texting alone. Just two seconds of thinking tells you that a plain text message, usually less then 255 characters is a much smaller payload then any voice conversation. If it is the SMS however, its not the payload of the messages that is hurting the system its the constant hammering of the tower by very small messages, much like how bittorrent can freak out routers, not because of a high payload, but because of excessive connections that the tower just plain cannot handle. A cell phone tower can only handle a certain number of simultaneous connections, if you just get enough people with powered on cell phones you can knock out a tower, I've seen this for events in small towns where the number of people is multiple times what it normally is.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (3, Informative)

lazy_playboy (236084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476321)

Believe it. At 00:00 01/01, in Europe everyone texts everyone and the resulting 2 hour mobile outage is a right pain in the arse.
As many others have said, SMS uses the control channel which has much less bandwidth and chokes very easily, and also affects voice call functions, even if there's plently of bandwidth free on the voice channel.

SMS wasn't designed for the daily usage that we're seeing today - it was more of a 'hmmm, we'll add this function in as an after thought, but no one's really gonna use it much, are they?'

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21476109)

They tried this in Finland.. Unlimited SMS was unlimited for a few months, before some teens sent over 3000 messages a month. then it was limited to 1000 sms per month.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476189)

SMS's put virtually no load at all on the network infrastructure. Surely some carrier could attract business with free unlimited messages, and it wouldn't cost them a thing.
.Logic_Error

With unlimited texting, there's much less incentive to call someone and speak to them, hence why do I need a 1000 min cellphone plan then, the much cheaper 250 minute one would be fine.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

Velorium (1068080) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476239)

To be honest, the only carrier in the U.S. I've seen do this is Sprint, at least at present time.

Re:Why do texts cost much anyway? (1)

stivi (534158) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476301)

SMS's put virtually no load at all on the network infrastructure
For the most of the year you are right, however a mobile phone operator will not agree with you on 24th-25th of December and on the New Year... sometimes the load leads to temporary DOS.

In the Philippines, it's virtually free (1)

sharksfin (812261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476385)

One relatively new carrier in the Philippines offers unlimited texting within its network for up to 30 days, for 150 pesos (that's about $3.50). This also comes with 4 hours of free calls.

To keep up, the larger carriers are offering X free text messages for every Y pesos the subscriber loads to his/her account. No free calls, though.

I guess this is why the country remains as the so-called texting capital of the world [yahoo.com] -- the norm is to use your phone to text, even for life or death situations. It's like everyone here forgets that the primary function of a phone is to make calls.

"Internet Sociologist" (2, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475903)

Internet Sociologist? That's not a real job.

Re:"Internet Sociologist" (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476197)

Bet they get paid more than you do (and me for that matter). After all, they have a fancy title. That's all you need to make the big bucks.

Paying to receive (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21475923)

Man, US Telco's really have their customers by the balls. Double dipping and then some! I can't recall a time where in Australia you had to pay to receive, I do recall not being able to send via prepaid, but that was introduced about 12 months after prepaid sims became available.

Don't have to pay in Australia (1)

sc0ob5 (836562) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476015)

I haven't RTFA but you don't have to pay to receive SMS's in Australia so I guess that would mean we are like Europe. I didn't realise that people actually paid to receive SMS's, that's like paying twice.

Whoever came up with texting... (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476053)

...is a frickin marketing genius. He/she's convinced telecom customers to actually pay money to use much, much less of the bandwidth that they're already paying for.

Re:Whoever came up with texting... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21476207)

No genius there. It was a Finnish mobile network engineer who proposed it for maintenance purposes. Nobody really planned that it would be a big hit.

Re:Whoever came up with texting... (1)

MonoSynth (323007) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476285)

As far as I know, sms is just an accidental feature. A simple way for the provider to inform their customers, but it became popular when people discovered that they could send messages to each other too. In the beginning, sms was free here in the Netherlands (afaik).

free in europe (2, Interesting)

nerdyalien (1182659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476069)

I have a friend in prague. Instead of texting from my phone, I just go to the VODAFONE web site, where I can send, pretty much e-mail long text messages for no charge at all. This is cool... virtually.. you don't have to bother about credit limits, if you run out, you can go online and send SMS in an emergency. I also find it ridiculous to charge all the incoming stuff. Come on... its like early days in Stamp Postage, where receiver should pay the stamp charges... which discouraged people and made it a key factor for general public to refrain using postal system.

"comfortable but not excessive" (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476269)

I guess that is an accurate description if "comfortable but not excessive" means that you stop sms'ing somewhere in the interval after your fingers start to bleed, but before you hit the bone.

But I'd say pre-teens sms even more than teens.

LW4 (1)

Amphetam1ne (1042020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476311)

Am I the only person that's got Chris Rock and Joe Pesci's conversation about cellphones from Lethal Weapon 4 playing in there head right now?

nothing geeky about 'texting' (1)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476313)

Texting is about the stupidest application to 'revolutionize' communications. With all the technology available today people get excited about the ability to send text to mobile devices. Yawwwnnnn.. This 'news' is not for nerds, it's about pricing and consumer electronics.

Mobile Operators Must Die! (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476325)

The cellular companies have been ripping people off for years, good riddance to the lot of them when public wireless access and SIP servers are prevalent enough for everyone to use IP rather than cellular.

And as for my mobile phone, I rarely text on it as it's a tool for people to get hold of me if they have a good reason to or vice versa - it is NOT a device that props of any lack of self esteem on my part because of being so terrified of missing out on anything my friends or family are doing that I have to be in constant contact with them all nattering/texting about total banalities.

Grow up, people! Look up from your 2 inch square screens for a few minutes and enjoy REAL LIFE!

Japan (1)

glasspanic (1089385) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476391)

In Japan you send emails to each other on your phone - no one uses SMS. I didn't have a look into plans much because I was only there for a month or two, but I think I was only paying about 1 cent per email.

Re:Japan (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476493)

Unrelated, but do you happen to know any rental companies that don't rake you over the coals on cellphone plans in Japan by chance? I had a phone rental over the summer for a month, and the phone rental ended up costing almost as much as my plane tickets (what I get for leaving it up to an incompetent friend who'd been a bunch of times and supposedly "knew" what they were doing). I'm doing a 3 month excursion this Summer, and have no desire to deal with that highway robbery pricing scheme again.

Re:Japan (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476693)

Technically, their "e-mail" is essentially MMS. That's still incredibly cheap, considering what the Japanese can do with it. Some pressure on American providers is needed to make this happen for America.

In Soviet Europe... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476525)

Europe is vastly different from the US. I noticed that when I went to the US for an extended time and had to get a cellphone.

First of all, the idea of paying to receive anything is completely alien here. There is simply no way you could even sell that here. People would fear that their friends start adding to their bills. Not to mention that people here are already afraid of being ripped off by someone abusing the phone system (you'd be surprised how many ask in various boards what they should do when getting a call from a number they don't know and whether that's a rip off).

What we're used to is metered phones, though. There has never been a time of unlimited and free local calls. Actually what most people are used to from their land lines which made it into the cell market is a monthly basic provider fee and paying by the minute (or by the text message sent). Most plans work that way.

Plans that include "free" minutes (which are rather prepaid, actually) are still rare and are currently entering the mainstream market. What you do have is various plans that offer a certain monthly fee and different rates to different other providers and foreign calls (with Europe being divided into many small countries, international plans actually play a role).

In general, the market is anything but transparent. Here you pay a high monthly fee and call free to the same provider and another one and landlines, there you have one that offers no monthly fee but high minute rates... In general, it takes a lot of work to actually get an even cursory overview.

"Huh? That's retarded." (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476539)


Whenever any of my european friends hears americans pay for incoming SMS or calls, they just open their eyes wide in amazement. "Huh? That's retarded. So I send you 100 SMS using a WWW gateway and you have to pay for them?"

Yeah. WWW gateways where you can send SMS for free. Actually getting an EXTRA CREDIT for RECEIVING calls - 2 minutes of incoming call gives you 1 minute of outgoung call extra in some plans. When your prepaid card runs out of credit, you can receive calls and SMS for a year without paying any extra. Then buy a $10 worth of calling credit and you have another year of incoming calls.

There's one situation when you pay for incoming calls. Roaming - you're in a different country, then you pay for calls from your home country. But the method is simple: prepaid starters are usually cheaper than prepaid recharges. Just remove the SIM-lock before leaving, then the first thing you do while there: buy a local pre-paid, put your own SIM in the wallet, put the pre-paid in the phone, send SMS with your number to all your friends. International SMS between networks native to respective countries count the same as local SMS.

Cheap unlimited data in Europe (5, Informative)

jholster (1155609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476601)

More and more phones are data-enabled, but only the techno-elite are going to add such ridiculously costly plans. (And what on earth can you do with only 4MB?) It's pretty clear that the carriers do not actually want you to use data. The story is even scarier in Europe with no unlimited options.
Not true. I pay 10 eur per month for unlimited 384 kbps 3G data in Finland. Even unlimited 2 Mbps costs no more than ~30 eur per month. Pretty cheap I think, and this is common price level in Finland.

US Cellular? (2, Informative)

5of0 (935391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21476731)

I don't know about the rest of the providers, but my US provider (US Cellular) has free incoming everything - texts, phone calls, picture messages - by default on all its plans. And unlimited outgoing texting is $15 a month (picture messaging is something extra). I guess they're the odd ones out?
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