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US Cell Phone Plans Among World's Most Expensive 827

Posted by timothy
from the yes-but-we-have-cheap-gasoline dept.
Albanach writes "An OECD report published today has shown moderate cell phone users in the United States are paying some of the highest rates in the world . Average US plans cost $52.99 per month compared to an average of $10.95 in Finland. The full report is available only to subscribers, however Excel sheets of the raw data are available to download." (You'll find those Excel sheets — which open just fine in OpenOffice — on the summary page linked above.)
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US Cell Phone Plans Among World's Most Expensive

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  • Stupid prices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:03PM (#29025467) Journal

    This is what I've always wondered, but learned from Slashdot comments. Why the hell mobile plans are so costly in US? I have the largest plan available from my phone company, 2500 minutes / 2500 sms per month and unlimited 3G internet. And that's still only 29 euro per month. And I did actually use that 3G internet connection for a month while waiting for adsl connection to be set up for my new apartment (hell, even running a server from it). No transfer limits or anything like that.

    Yeah, mobile companies have extra costs from providing their infrastructure, but it just seems a lot what they ask in US. Sweden is mostly woods and non-urban areas too, so why is it done better here?

    Maybe voice your opinion to the companies so they stop charging so much?

    • Re:Stupid prices (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvilNTUser (573674) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:12PM (#29025603)

      It's because US carriers compete based on who has the iPhone and who has the Pre rather than network price/quality. Then users "buy" $800 devices for "$99" and make fun of uncrippled foreign cell phone brands because they're "so expensive", and have useless features like application downloads from Sourceforge.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      All these companies need to pay for health insurance for all their full time employees. They dont get it via 20+% taxes like you do in Europe. So things cost more but you pay less taxes. I'll leave it up the reader which solution is best.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "All these companies need to pay for health insurance for all their full time employees. They dont get it via 20+% taxes like you do in Europe. So things cost more but you pay less taxes. I'll leave it up the reader which solution is best."

        Unfortunately, it looks like we have a real chance of switching to just such coverage here in the US too. Yep, we'll get that extra 20+% taxation (I even hear they're bandying about a VAT tax here too, to go with the current income tax)...and yet, those prices the compa

        • Re:Stupid prices (Score:5, Interesting)

          by AvitarX (172628) <me@brandywinehund[ ].org ['red' in gap]> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:33PM (#29025985) Journal

          We need a VAT in the US.

          We need to tax the bad (over-spending/under-saving) and not the good (working and earning).

          This is not true around the world (Germany for example could arguably be blamed for over-saving), but the US desperately needs to tax consumption rather than production.

          • Re:Stupid prices (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ThosLives (686517) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:50PM (#29026285) Journal

            Except the odd thing is, a value added tax is a tax on creation, not consumption. You don't "add value" by consuming, you add it by creating. A sales tax is, in fact, the best consumption tax. After all, would you rather be taxed because you built an addition onto your house, or taxed when you sold the house for profit?

            That said, all forms of "consumption tax" (either sales or VAT) are regressive because they disproportionately tax people who spend higher percentages of their incomes on consumables. You want to make it progressive, you make the sales (or VAT) rate proportional to total price, so you pay more tax on more expensive things.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              . You want to make it progressive, you make the sales (or VAT) rate proportional to total price, so you pay more tax on more expensive things.

              That will never happen, because unlike income tax the truly wealthy will actually be expected to pay VAT (probably one of the reasons that it has never gotten serious traction up until now).

      • Re:Stupid prices (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:17PM (#29026697)
        >All these companies need to pay for health insurance for all their full time employees. They dont get it via 20+% taxes like you do in Europe. So things cost more but you pay less taxes.

        .
        Ok, I'll take the bite and go offtopic, since I'm not the first one.
        Born in Europe, lived there 25 years, I've lived in the U.S. 13 years so allow me to know exactly what goes on in both places.

        You DO NOT pay less taxes in the U.S., it just seems so. Wanna crunch some numbers?
        Using Sweden as an example, feel free to use any other country

        Sweden minimum wage: $20/hour
        U.S. minimum wage: $6.75/hour

        Sweden taxes off the paycheck: 50%
        US taxes off the paycheck: (depends on which state you live in: 20% to 30%)

        Sweden health care system: excellent
        US Health care system: Excellent if you are rich. Add $200/month (my plan with $500 deductible, which is ridiculous that I still have to pay the first $500 and also doctor visits) or more for medical plan. That's $2500/year. Pretend that it's coming out of your paycheck as part of your taxes and see how much higher your tax percentage goes)

        Sweden education system: Universities (less than $5000 for 5 years including books, much less with scholarships)
        U.S. education system: Universities ($50,000 to $400,000+). $50,000 gets you a degree in a low quality university. Add that to your taxes.

        Swedish High Schools system: very good
        U.S. High School system: Mediocre

        Sweden paid vacation: 5 weeks/year
        U.S. paid vacation: 2 weeks/year (when you're lucky, I don't get any, only unpaid time off).

        Street lights in Sweden: really good. Even rural areas are well lit.
        US: not even big cities are well lit everywhere, nearly nonexistent in rural areas.

        Want me to go on? Nobody likes to pay more taxes, but comparing tax rates directly without taking into account everything else is pure fiction.

        By the way, I'm not swedish. I could have used any other country as an example.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HiThere (15173)

        Are you sure?

        I'm sure that some people would pay more in taxes, others, perhaps, less. So how do you know into which group I fall?

        P.S.: If you count health insurance, and what my employer pays in health insurance, I suspect that we pay more for less. Naturally I can't assert that as truth, as the actual numbers involved are secret. (I.e., I know what I am charged, and I know what my employer claims it pays, but I have no way to verify the claims.)

        My suspicion is that with full governmental health covera

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:14PM (#29025635)

      That sounds pretty socialist there. I bet the Government even helped setup some towers.

      Here in the good ole USA. We have Competition. None of that GSM only crap. We have true competition between carriers with CDMA, GSM, iDEN, etc. That way for any given area of good reception, there's 3x the number of towers. TRUE competition.

      • Re:Stupid prices (Score:5, Informative)

        by MartinSchou (1360093) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:19PM (#29025721)

        True competition? Then why are your prices so high?

        In a truly competitive market prices for comparable items converge towards a low price, as long as they aren't luxury items.

        Look around in your supermarket. You can probably find ten different brands of bread, all costing roughly the same per unit of weight. The price will be fairly comparative to European prices (should be lower in the US as you have lower taxes and lower wages). That's true competition.

        Not so in your cellphone market.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by HiThere (15173)

          I think he was being sarcastic. (A dangerous thing to do in a post, as you'll likely be misunderstood.)

          Note that he did point out that the different towers handled different protocols. Probably by this he meant it would be three times as expensive to have the same coverage. I don't think he meant to imply that there were actually three times as many towers. Rather that the areas of good coverage were segmented into micro-monopolies.

      • Re:Stupid prices (Score:5, Informative)

        by mrops (927562) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:53PM (#29026331)
        And the finer point.

        It costs money to put up these towers.

        Europe has a larger population compared to US, yet it has a lesser amount of land to cover with cell sites.

        As a result, people/tower ratio is quite good in Europe and partially contributes to better plans.

        We have the exact opposite here in Canada, where the population is 10 times lesser than USA and land is larger. You should look at our plans. I am paying 25$/month for 500MB, plus anoter 45$ for voice (I'm rather lucky as I have a grand fathered plan which gives me unlimmited voice).

        Today, for the kind of money (about 90$/month). I would get 1000 min and 500 MB and 250 SMS.
        • Re:Stupid prices (Score:5, Informative)

          by koiransuklaa (1502579) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:13PM (#29026635)

          Europe has a larger population compared to US, yet it has a lesser amount of land to cover with cell sites.

          As a result, people/tower ratio is quite good in Europe and partially contributes to better plans.

          ...yet Finland, the most sparsely populated country in Europe tops the chart. I think you'll need another explanation.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by QuantumRiff (120817)
            90% of the people in the country live in one very small region? (Helsinki).. Getting the population density just takes the population devided by Sq kilometers.. It doesn't take into account WHERE they live in the country.

            I bet Finland has the highest level of public Transportation usage per person as well...
    • Re:Stupid prices (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Amouth (879122) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:19PM (#29025725)

      What I'd be intrested to see. .instead of how much we all pay is.. how many customers are served Per tower - and how many towers vs area vs coverage.

      You maay have the largest plan for sweeden.. but do you roam when you go to the UK? even if not.. all of Western Europe is ~1/3 the size of the US and has 1/3 MORE people

      comes out to be:

      Western Europe | 514 people/mi^2
      United States | 86.5 people/mi^2

      Basicly it takes 5 times the area to hold the same numebr of people - asume population was evenly spread (i know it isn't) it should cost 5 times as much to provide for the same number of people..

      "Average US plans cost $52.99 per month compared to an average of $10.95 in Finland."

      Assume the Finland price for all of western Europe - and we pay 5x the cost for something 5x as expensive to provide..

      People don't realize how large the US is.. and that most plans now days there is no roaming from sea to sea.. thats alot of area to provide for..

    • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:51PM (#29026293)

      In the US, the monthly fee includes:

      • Carrier subsidy for the cost of the phone
      • Incoming calls are free to the caller
      • Much larger coverage area/long distance area
      • Free night/weekend calling
      • Free mobile to mobile calling
      • Free calling to designated off-network numbers

      So we pay more, but we get more. You have to buy your own phone, and you have to pay to call mobile phones. Also, our plans don't have to be so expensive. By way of example, I have a 4 line family plan that costs $31.87 per line. All 4 lines have:

      • $350 subsidy on the cost of the phone
      • Shared 1500 minutes peak airtime (we typically use closer to 8000 minutes total, but we never go over on peak airtime)
      • Unlimited 3G data
      • Unlimited SMS
      • Unlimited GPS/TV/Radio

      Now I look at what I get for $31.87/mo vs. what you get for 29 Euro/mo, and I am not seeing why I should be so outraged. Which is a shame really, because I do so enjoy getting worked up.

  • Well, let's imagine that coverage of the country directly affects cost. This might not be so outlandish as cell phone towers need to be erected to cover area. I would venture to say that Americans & Canadians suffer from sprawl much more than Finland and total area of dense population is probably more than five times that of Finland's. So let's assume that those cell phone tower maintenance (more harsh weather conditions across the US than Finland also) and building costs are passed on to the consu
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It must be the extraordinary customer service that is driving the costs up!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by amorsen (7485)

      Finland has 17 inhabitants per square kilometre on average. US is at 30. I would expect that Finland has universal cell phone coverage like the other Nordic countries, but unlike the US.

      It also seems quite unlikely that the US has "more harsh weather conditions than Finland".

      • by Shakrai (717556)

        It also seems quite unlikely that the US has "more harsh weather conditions than Finland".

        Finland has over a thousand tornadoes every year?

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:16PM (#29025687) Journal

      I would venture to say that Americans & Canadians suffer from sprawl much more than Finland and total area of dense population is probably more than five times that of Finland's.

      You'd be wrong. The average population density in Finland is half that of the U.S. The U.S. has, on average, 31 people per square km; FInland has, on average, 16 people per square km. This according to Google. The total size of the area to cover shouldn't be relevant assuming similar percentages of the population use the service. Besides, the U.S. cell providers leave large swaths of the U.S. uncovered anyway....

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      Well, let's imagine that coverage of the country directly affects cost. This might not be so outlandish as cell phone towers need to be erected to cover area. I would venture to say that Americans & Canadians suffer from sprawl much more than Finland and total area of dense population is probably more than five times that of Finland's. So let's assume that those cell phone tower maintenance (more harsh weather conditions across the US than Finland also) and building costs are passed on to the consumer.

      Eh, you obviously dont know much how nordic countries are. Most of the area is forest and not urban cities. Theres no tornadoes or such, but the weather changes a lot between summer and winter. Finland also only has 3 cities that passes 200k people living and the land area is large and many people live in smaller cities/towns. I would even argua that the cost of having cell phone network covered is more than on USA's area.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by demonlapin (527802)
        I used wunderground.com and picked Uppsala just to avoid the moderating influence of the water on cities like Stockholm. Uppsala's average winter low is -6 C, and average summer high is 22 C. That's 28 degrees between max and min. In Minneapolis, make those -16 and 28 C. That's 44 degrees. Or Dallas, a much warmer climate, where they're 1 and 36. Or Denver, -9 and 31.

        It is really difficult to explain to most Europeans just how incredibly moderate your weather is. Minneapolis is south of Milan but colder
    • So let's assume that those cell phone tower maintenance (more harsh weather conditions across the US than Finland also) and building costs are passed on to the consumer....Of course this isn't the only factor, for example: I would assume China's median household income would affect their cell phone charges and cause them to drop despite country size.

      Well aren't these two different explanations as to why cell phone prices are expensive? In the first one, you're assuming that the cost to the consumer is pretty close to the cost to the carriers for providing the service. If that's the case then yes, increased costs to the carriers would require them to pass those costs along to consumers.

      But in the second explanation, China could only lower their charges to make it affordable to people with low incomes if you assume that the profit margin is wide to be

    • by Albanach (527650)

      The United States and Canada are are fourth and second (respectively) by country size. Which could explain their inflated costs.

      No it doesn't. The average population density of the United States (31/km2) is twice that of Finland (16/km2).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MartinSchou (1360093)

      As someone else pointed out, Finland [wikipedia.org] has a population density of 16/km2) (40/mile2) whereas the US has 31/km2 (80/mile2).

      Some will say "apples to oranges" so let's compare comparative things then:
      California [wikipedia.org] vs Sweden [wikipedia.org]

      Size: Sweden is 449,964 km2, California is 423,970km^2.
      Population density: Sweden: 20.6/km2, California 90.49

      Or how about the fact that every single EU country is at a lower price than the US?

      Stop making weak excuses about how tough it is in the US, and how it's unfair to compare it to anywhere

  • by line-bundle (235965) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:05PM (#29025499) Homepage Journal

    So we aim to be number one in everything:

    healthcare costs
    shortest vacations
    .
    .
    .

  • by Xenna (37238) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:06PM (#29025509)

    Well, that's a first! At last we're cheap in something else than marihuana...

    Apparently the privatization of mobile networks worked out really well here!

    X.

  • I would wager that some government taxes or fees on the infrastructure is what is causing the high prices.

    Or at least, that's what the cell companies will claim... "It's the FCC! They charge us $1.00 for every square mile we cover per month in fees!!11!11!"

    Either way, it's greed, and it's the basis for our capitalistic society, so it's not going to change.
  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:11PM (#29025593)
    Although I agree it sucks paying more than other countries, I'd imagine the largest reason wireless providers in the US costs more in comparison to the rest of the world is because of the exponential higher cost associated with deploying the infrastructure due to the physical size of the US. Of course, there's probably other more devious things going on that also attribute to the higher costs, but it's not all attributed to evil wheelings and dealings.
    • by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:21PM (#29025769)
      Even if it was granted that cell plans in the US cost twice as much (or more) for worse service was because of the area of the US, that infrastructure has pretty much been in place for the past decade and hasn't changed much. Its been paid for already and maintenance does not cost as much as the initial deployment. So if it actually had anything to do with the cost of infrastructure, plans should have become more affordable, as they have pretty much everywhere except the US and Canada.
    • by nxtw (866177) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:42PM (#29026145)

      Although I agree it sucks paying more than other countries, I'd imagine the largest reason wireless providers in the US costs more in comparison to the rest of the world is because of the exponential higher cost associated with deploying the infrastructure due to the physical size of the US. Of course, there's probably other more devious things going on that also attribute to the higher costs, but it's not all attributed to evil wheelings and dealings.

      But providers often don't cover sparsely populated areas, even when they are licensed to do so. They might cover only the major highways in the area, or provide just enough coverage to meet any licensing requirements.

      The carriers with the best rural coverage might cost more - but is this because their costs are actually higher, or because their customers are willing to pay more for better service? Verizon has a distinct advantage over the other carriers in the USA, as they have more 800 MHz licenses than the others - so they can build less towers to provide usable service in rural areas.

  • by krbvroc1 (725200) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:11PM (#29025599)

    Among the most expensive and not even for a service that is advanced compared to other countries systems. And so called competition between carries is for which carrier can offer you which features for a high price ($55) plan. There is no real competition when it comes lower cost plans. And finally, my opinion for the most expensive, the lack of open systems. Carriers lock people into certain models of phones. Those lock-ins not only keep customers from shopping for the best service/price, but requires the carriers to earn even more profit to subsidize the exclusive contracts with the phone vendors.

  • United States total area: 3,537,441 square miles [enchantedlearning.com].

    The area of Finland is 131,000 square miles [joensuu.fi].
  • I pay $29 but then I guess I'm not a phone whore and only need 200 minutes/month. It does make sense though, the stretch of I10 going from Phoenix to Los Angeles (where nothing but desert stretches for miles) is probably the length of Finland itself.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:14PM (#29025657) Journal

    In Europe (and most other regions outside of the US and Canada for that matter) the cellular user is not expected to pay the full cost of having wireless service. This is why other users who call your cell phone pay a premium for doing so and why the wireless customers over there often have free incoming calls. This is known as a "caller pays" model.

    The US has (for better or worse) adopted a "subscriber pays" model wherein the wireless customer pays a higher price and for incoming minutes but those who call him and do so at the same rate as any other phone call (free in many/most cases). The US also has many perks that aren't part of most calling plans in other countries -- unlimited calling to X numbers, unlimited nights and weekends, unlimited mobile to mobile, etc, etc. Add in all of these perks and break down the monthly rate by the number of minutes used and many Americans wind up paying around $0.02-$0.03 per minute for their cellular phones.

    It doesn't really tell us much to see a per month cost break down without looking at all of these other factors. In any case if you want to copy something from the rest of the world regarding wireless business models I would look at copying the concept of unlocked phones that are separate from contracts long before I'd look at copying their rate plans. I rather like to be able to call my friends who have cell phones without paying a penalty for doing so.

    • by oneandoneis2 (777721) * on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:31PM (#29025949) Homepage

      Uh.. those perks have been available in England for years. Plus when we get a phone with a contract, the phone is usually free. And can be upgraded every year, for free.

      I'm visiting America for a couple months right now, so I've bought a cell phone for while I'm here, and I've been appalled at how bad your cell service is. You guys have phone companies boasting in adverts that they drop your call less than any other network. FFS, why do you put up with them dropping your call at all?!? Unless you drive through a lot of tunnels or live in serious wilderness, if your phone dropped a call in England as often as they seem to over here, the network responsible would be out of business long before your contract had a chance to expire.

      And the nuisance calls.. I bought a brand new phone and gave my number to maybe three people. I've received over a dozen calls from unknown numbers, all of which Google has identified as scam callers. And I've been charged for being called by these so-and-so's.

      Cell phone services over here are just dreadful. Why you all pay so much for such mediocre service, I really don't know.

      • by radish (98371) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:36PM (#29026035) Homepage

        Why you all pay so much for such mediocre service, I really don't know

        Because it's a wonderful free market and we all have a choice. Oh, wait...

        I live in the US but I'm British, so I know exactly what you mean. Orange wasn't great but it beat the crap out of AT&T...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by demonlapin (527802)
        Only two games in town: Verizon and AT&T. Everyone else is a bit player that doesn't have a real network.
      • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:12PM (#29026621)

        Cell phone services over here are just dreadful. Why you all pay so much for such mediocre service, I really don't know.

        Do you know how to pay less for better service in the US?

        I didn't think so.

        There's your answer. In the US, you have the choice of high-priced, mediocre service or no service at all. To make matters worse, a cell phone has almost become an essential tool for most Americans. So if you want better and cheaper service, your only (unrealistic) choice is to leave the country.

        Ideally, our capitalist economy should keep all the prices down, but the cellular giants collude to keep prices high and service poor. They also lobby the government to prevent any mandated change.

        It's completely appalling, but very very hard to change as a voter choosing from an extremely limited subset of corrupt politicians. That said, no country is perfect. I am sure there are some things about the US that you find superior to Britain as well.

  • I have it under 50$ (Score:4, Informative)

    by AnswerIs42 (622520) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:17PM (#29025697) Homepage
    I have my bill down to 35$ a month though AT&T... but I have found out something quite nasty.. My number is a Michigan one, since I was living there at the time. I have since moved to Pennsylvania but left the number the same since people know the number I have. Since I pay my bills online I never looked that closely at the bill. This last month I did.. and found out I am paying TWO sales taxes, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when I called about it, it is because the number is a Michigan number.. because it is they can charge a sales tax on it.. as well as tax me because I reside in Pennsylvania. Their solution.. change my number (not a very good solution). I don't see why one should be taxed for where a number resides.
    • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:40PM (#29026119)

      And when I called about it, it is because the number is a Michigan number.. because it is they can charge a sales tax on it.. as well as tax me because I reside in Pennsylvania

      Avoiding a double-taxed good was the focal point of the "no taxing interstate commerce" clause in the constitution. Let AT&T know you're speaking to lawyers today about starting a class-action lawsuit against them for double-taxing you.

  • by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:18PM (#29025707) Homepage

    I should probably have added this when I submitted.

    In these threads, there are often comments about population density in Europe making coverage more effective. Finland has a population density of 16/km2 - that's lower than Maine and 37 other US states.

    Perhaps you think Finland must be tiny, in fact it's land area is 305470 sq km, that's bigger than Arizona. There are only five US states larger than Finland.

    Maybe coverage is actually really poor, restricted to big cities? Take a look at this coverage map.

    http://www.gsmworld.com/cgi-bin/ni_map.pl?cc=fi&net=te [gsmworld.com]

    Do any US states have coverage like that?

    • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:36PM (#29026039)

      Perhaps you think Finland must be tiny, in fact it's land area is 305470 sq km, that's bigger than Arizona. There are only five US states larger than Finland.

      ...and Texas is two of them.

      • by mcgrew (92797) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:34PM (#29026981) Homepage Journal

        Perhaps you think Finland must be tiny, in fact it's land area is 305470 sq km, that's bigger than Arizona. There are only five US states larger than Finland. ...and Texas is two of them.

        A Texan, an Arizonan, and an Alaskan were sitting around the campfire talking about how tough their respective citizens were. The The Arizonan says "boy, the average guy in my state sits in the 120 degree sun on a roof putting shingles on."

        The Texan says "In Texas we're bull riding at age ten!"

        The Alaskan didn't say anything, he just stood there stirring the fire with his dick.

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:18PM (#29025713)

    From TFA, 1680 minutes per year is considered high use. Really? Two hours twenty minutes per month.

    Also stated is that same-network free calls and such aren't considered in the data, which skews prices higher in the US than is realistic. I pay $67 a month after taxes for unlimited everything but mid-day calls made out of network, with nights and weekends beginning at 7 PM. That's not great from a global perspective, but it's not the worst in the world, either, considering that I get 3-4k minutes of use and a few hundred pictures and videos sent in that interval.

    Anyway, my real problem with European cell phones is how much is costs to call them. If I'm in Italy and I use a calling card to call an American land line, I'll pay around $0.02/minute. If I call an American cell, I'll pay exactly the same amount. If instead I'm in America and I call an Italian land line, I'll pay $0.01/minute, while a calling an Italian cell will cost me $0.15/minute on the same calling card.

    On another note, I'm glad that my cell plan includes unlimited skype usage.

  • If someone here has a few hundred million dollars you can get rich quick by starting up a cell phone company to fill this void of competition.
  • Mobile phones in Europe are subsidized by calls from fixed lines. Since you do not pay to receive calls, there are two rates for calls FROM land lines: a cheap rate to other land lines, and an expensive rate to mobile phones. Some carriers get more than half their income from incoming calls. When you call from a cell phone to a cell phone with a different carrier, the originating carrier usually pays more to the terminating carrier than the customer pays.

    So don't use a land line to call a cell phone in Euro

  • by FranTaylor (164577) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:30PM (#29025923)

    Because the US does NOT have universal GSM coverage. For example, a GSM phone is pretty useless in New Hampshire if you live north of Concord.

    There are vast areas of the US with no cell coverage at all.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:31PM (#29025943) Homepage Journal
    Several factors to consider:

    1. The study is crap. The "high usage" plan is 1600 minutes/YEAR, 660 SMS/YEAR. That's not high usage; it's barely even light usage. The US plan selected has a low number in "fixed" but a high number in "usage"; this would suggest that they calculated what it would cost based on the cheapest-available plan. US overage charges are indeed ridiculous, in the 40c/min range, but nobody ever pays them because adding airtime to a plan costs very little.

    2. US plans offer coverage nationwide and with no charges other than airtime for calls from anywhere to anywhere in the country. When there's an EU-wide plan providing the same coverage - no international charges - then we're getting close to an apples-to-apples comparison.

    3. Population density is a real problem. I think the person upthread who suggested that the real metric that should be used is total # of subscribers divided by total # of towers is right - average population density is misleading.
  • Explanation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:34PM (#29025987)
    The US has such expensive cell phone plans because the government has been protecting Big Telecom and turning a blind eye to exhorbitant pricing. In fact, by keeping prices high and using media spin to say just "how competitive we are" with the world, many US citizens are unware of anything better. It took Boost Mobile and Straight Talk to do something audacious and lower pricing on unlimited service to wake up competition again. Since the George W. Bush administration was pro rich, little was done to curb the excesses of big telecom and if big telecom can make gobs of money on older technology, there is no incentive to upgrade, thereby putting us further behind the technology curve. We all know what George W. Bush did to stifle science. For a while you really had only four choices: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. There isn't a doubt that these telecom giants colluded to keep prices high. I remember the hoopla when Verizon came out with FiOS. Everyone was thinking we had hit a miraculous breakthrough in broadband which is just what Verizon wanted everyone to think. Verizon banked on the ignorance of consumers. In reality, FiOS is behind the 8 ball. Japan has 100MBiT to the home right now. When the Verizon sales rep tried to tell me how great it was, I replied, "Stop. Just please stop the bullshit sales pitch. Japan has had 10MbiT to the home just prior to the turn of the century. This is nothing new or miraculous. Don't bank on consumer ignorance." To which I got a snarled response. Qwest is doing this right now in the Arizona Valley. Oh my god, "12MbIT service," whoop ti dooo!"
  • by luvirini (753157) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @01:35PM (#29026005)

    I fall in the low usage category in Finland and have paid a total of 8.52eur for all my mobile phone usage since November last year when I switched carriers. I commited to 24 months at 0.66eur/month and I get 50 minutes of normal price calling as bonus. The base cost has thus sofar been 5.94eur and the rest has been mostly international use. Though I went a few minutes over the 50 one month, those calls being billed at 6.9 cents/minute.

    Normally one does not commit to any term and can switch carriers in about a week, as I have done couple of times. So the free 50 min/month is an attempt to get some heavy users to get locked into their service.

  • by a whoabot (706122) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @02:08PM (#29026543)

    Did anyone look at the spreadsheets? What the hell are the numbers in them even supposed to be? It says "tax included" thereby implying that they are monetary amounts, but they don't say what unit, and the total for the US in the low usage one for August 2008 is 279.52. 279.52 of what units for what? For one month? Beats me.

    Does anyone know what the numbers actually are?

  • by microbee (682094) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @04:10PM (#29028941)

    I am not a heavy phone user. I never bothered with a data plan. I pay $40 per month for a minimal voice plan. Most of the time I'm with my laptop, so I don't pay extra for those features. It's also the most important reason I never bothered with an iphone.

    But it could change. I'd be interested in getting all those if the fee is reasonable. But it is not. So I don't use those features. I think I am not alone. On the other hand the mobile market needs more people to use these features, which would boom related technology (software/hardware) innovations. In the end, the country loses.

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