Signal Processing DesignLine Blog
My colleague Seth Benton writes:
This week Verizon sued the FCC over its 'open' 700 MHz auction rules. These rules would require carriers to sell phones that were not "locked" to their network—a plan that Verizon previously supported. This reversal resulted in a collective groan from the blogosphere. Almost every independent analysis on this issue will agree—the current system gives Verizon and the other big carriers too much power and US consumers are getting cheated. I've long agreed with this analysis and hope Verizon gets beaten down on this one.
However, I must confess that when I started writing this blog I realized that I knew very little about the systems in other countries that proponents of 'open' rules would have us emulate. A bit of searching turned up this very interesting article on European vs. American mobile phone use. It provides great insight into the different systems of regulation in various European countries as well as the European cellular market structure, the power of carriers, and mobile phone culture.
Here are a few interesting tidbits/opinions from the article:
- Phone subsidies are much less common in Europe. In Italy and Belgium they're actually illegal.
- The power of US carriers to lock customers to their network and determine which phones customers can use inhibits innovation. European customers get better phones, cheaper.
- Pay-as-you-go arrangements are much more popular than long-term contracts. One notable exception is Finland where contracts constitute almost the entire market.
- SMS (text messaging) is hugely popular with people under 25 in both the US and Europe, although text messaging has been popular for longer in Europe due to cheaper rates and the fact that IMing didn't catch on like it did in the "PC-centered" US.
- In Austria and Germany people routinely ignore voicemails, so people opt for text messages instead. In China voicemails are considered rude.