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Government Businesses Cellphones News

Antitrust Pressure Mounts For Wireless Providers 300

Over the past few weeks, the cellphone industry has been criticized on a variety of subjects, from distracted driving to handset exclusivity deals to everything else that's shady within the industry. Verizon's CEO has now responded, addressing what he claims are "myths" about standard practices. Reader DJRumpy points out that the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights has been calling for an investigation into whether competition is being stifled through many of these practices, "including possible text messaging price fixing and questionable roaming arrangements." Apparently the new antitrust chief is hitting resistance from within the government over the aggressive inquiries into this and other major industries. However, a small victory was achieved the other day when the National Telecommunications and Information Administration "told incumbent carriers that they'll have to prove their cases just like everyone else if they want to challenge broadband grant proposals from smaller players." There is also legislation in the works that would require states to impose a ban on text messaging while driving or lose a significant portion of their federal highway funding.
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Antitrust Pressure Mounts For Wireless Providers

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:46AM (#28865519)

    On the one hand, texting while driving is about as dangerous as drinking and driving. It takes eyes and concentration off the road and puts everyone else at risk. It is an activity that ought to be illegal.

    But first of all, do we want the federal government having that kind of control over the states? The actions taken by the federal government ought to be carefully weighed with the impact it will have on all states. National defense, public educational standards, immigration and border controls, healthcare. These are the things that Washington ought to be concerned about. Not some 16 year old field hockey player driving her mom's Durango with her boyfriend's hands between her knees and her eyes on her iPhone.

    Secondly, what are we actually defining as texting? Technology changes so rapidly that a measure like this can only be relevant for a short time.

    Leave the texting laws to the states. Don't let the federal government bully the states into making the laws.

  • by El Jynx ( 548908 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:58AM (#28865689)

    We've got the same discussions going on here across the pond, but we're a bit further along. Several laws have already been passed ordering carriers to stop blocking VoIP and such; in Belgium, iPhones must be sold independently of carriers. I think we're starting to get the mix between government intervention and free market right. On another level, we told the telco's to standardise the power plugs they use; they were given an ultimatum after mass public annoyance at all the different chargers we have, and told to "choose or have it chosen for them". Now micro-USB will be becoming the standard. We're getting there!

    It makes me wonder, though. I don't believe in free market anymore. There's just too many loopholes, lobbying being the biggest. And I think the U.S. government has a lot of corruption to stamp out before it can be as flexible as the EU has been hitherto.

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:22AM (#28866021)

    Texting while driving is already illegal in all 50 states.

    It's called reckless driving [].

    This new requirement is just posturing. It's a waste of time, effort, and money. It also contributes to the growing problem of federal law being vast and un-knowable by any single individual.

    Go congress!

  • by giltnerj0 ( 210486 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:24AM (#28866047) Homepage

    I use Verizon atm, and I noticed that if you open an account, and get a subsidized phone by signing a 2 year agreement you get whatever the rate is. Why, after two years, when theoretically you have paid for the subsidized phone, doesn't your monthly bill go down. Now if you upgrade the phone after 2 years with a 2year renewal, I can see keeping the price the same. But otherwise, they should be required to tell you how much of what you are paying each month is going to paying for the phone, and drop that cost when the phone is paid for.
    Also, if you bring your own phone, you don't get a reduced rate, you just don't have to sign up for 2 years.

  • by westcoast philly ( 991705 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:44AM (#28866323)

    Yeah, I know this well. I live 20km away from downtown Victoria, BC's CAPITAL city.. can practically SEE it. Yet, my old phone (Telus) would roam constantly. I had roaming turned off for 4 years, but eventually got sick of paying $70/month for service I could only use while I was at work, or in town.. about 9 hours/day during the week. Rediculous. When they called me to try and upgrade my plan, I explained this to them, and the fact that I know several people who have a similar situation, that their roaming charges get knocked off their bills. They told me no way, so I switched carriers (Rogers), and got an iPhone. no problem now. They will at least credit for roaming charges, as I'm on a border zone.

    Moral of the story: If you don't like the service you're getting from someone, let them know, and then take action. Then let them know again. and again. and again.

    Oh, and then tell everyone you know about how poor customer service they gave you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:09AM (#28866715)

    HTC Magic. T-Mobile has been putting money into Android phones. What the hell are you on about?

    Besides that, you can unlock an iPhone and use it on T-Mobile's network. The support guy there even offered to help me set up the phone and get the Data plan sorted for this if I chose to go that route. I opted instead for the Magic, but still, you aren't making any sense.

  • by 4pins ( 858270 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:24AM (#28866991) Homepage
    "Why, after two years, when theoretically you have paid for the subsidized phone, doesn't your monthly bill go down."

    Because that would be a disincentive for you to coming in and pick up and new phone and another two year slavery term.
  • by funaho ( 42567 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:40AM (#28867269) Homepage
    I don't know how it is where you live, but around here pay phones have all but disappeared. If you get stuck somewhere at night (car problems, etc.) and you don't have a cell phone, you're screwed unless someone is nice enough to stop and help. Which, usually, they aren't. That being said, having a prepaid phone is certainly a great option for those cases. I'm just saying, cell phones aren't as much a luxury item as they once were.
  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @12:01PM (#28867699)

    Last time I was contract free, without a subsidized phone, the airtime ended up costing about twice as much as it would have if I'd had a contract and taken their phone.

    They price EVERYTHING so that you're pretty much forced to take the contract.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @12:05PM (#28867767)

    Count yourself lucky. In Canada if you bring your own phone and don't sign a contract you pay more.

    Oh, and cancelling the contract isn't $200, it's $400. Plus another $100 for your data plan.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.