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Dispelling CTIA’s Myths on American Wireless

CTIA LogoMobileCrunch picked up on some ex parte communication with the FCC about how Americans aren’t getting screwed as much as Europeans are on wireless service. Let’s examine each of these “myths,” shall we?

  • The price per minute of service in the United States is lower than every European country, without exception – it is one-half of the price in Finland and one-third (or less) of every other European country.

In just about every other country in the world, you must pay to make a telephone call. Period. In the US, you don’t pay to make a “local” call. Since the mobile carriers can’t charge people who call your mobile phone, they charge the person with the phone.

Also, this is hard to compare, especially when you can play games like “mobile to mobile” and “night and weekend” minutes. Who’s to say what a minute of wireless service really costs a consumer? Unless you’re on prepaid, like my wife is, you don’t know. I can tell you for my wife–less than $0.10 a minute using T-Mobile Prepaid with $100 refills. And that includes all taxes.

  • Consumers in the United States have the highest minutes of use per month in the world, more than 500 minutes per month more than the next closest European country.

Again, this is because we are charged for incoming and outgoing calls. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

  • According to British regulatory authority Ofcom, the United States has the lowest Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (“HHI”) of the nine European countries it recently measured, and when measuring the market share of 53 countries’ top two providers, the United States has the third lowest concentration. HHI is an economic formula used to measure market concentration.

There are flat-out more carriers in the US. In addition to the major 4 (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), you have a lot of smaller carriers. I think they have four carriers in the UK, in most other European nations it’s three. Not exactly apples-to-apples there either.

  • Contrary to recent reports that the United States trails in the deployment of Wi Fi capable devices, American wireless providers have thriving and growing Wi-Fi offerings, including ten handsets in the market now, with many more on the way.

Oooh, a whole ten. With how many carriers can you get those devices? And can the WiFi truly be used to its full potential? Get real, CTIA.

  • American consumers have access to more than 700 different devices – according to CTIA research, more than any other country on the planet. By contrast, the U.K. has approximately 180 different handsets.

That’s because carriers insist in selling locked devices branded with their “enhancements.” To make it worse, CDMA carriers do not allow people to use devices they purchased from a different carrier. I’m willing to bet if you consolidate the carrier variant devices, the number of devices available is far lower than the UK numbers. Heck, even if you do, I’m sure the average US consumer has nowhere near the number of devices available that the UK does.

Let’s not even talk about how the average consumer is getting screwed on text messages. Unless you’re paying for an unlimited text message plan, the average consumer pays for incoming text messages. Usurious rates if you’re not on a plan–$0.15 USD–and none of the carriers have any way to filter unwanted text messages other than “turn off all text messages.” The bogosity meter just pegged.

Do you think we have it better than our wireless brethren in Europe, or is the CTIA blowing some reefer smoke in the direction of the FCC? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

#Cybersecurity Evangelist, Podcaster, #noagenda Producer, Frequenter of shiny metal tubes, Expressor of personal opinions, and of course, a coffee achiever.