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Reuters On Telephone Cultures 508

Posted by Hemos
from the all-kinds-to-make-the-worm-turn dept.
mamladm writes "Reuters has an interesting article about the Differences in Telephone Cultures between the US and Europe. It describes how the different regulatory frameworks have created distinct cultures on how telephones are being used in the US versus Europe. The article mainly discusses mobile phone usage, though."
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Reuters On Telephone Cultures

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  • by Zocalo (252965) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:34AM (#11931885) Homepage
    ...here! [reuters.com]. Not too hard, is it?
  • by foobsr (693224) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:34AM (#11931888) Homepage Journal
    ... already a couple of years ago when designing mobile phones (actually, they did quite a bit of market resarch on that - I participated (as a researcher)).

    CC.
  • Aha (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chrispl (189217) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:37AM (#11931901) Homepage
    This does a little bit to explain why my friends in the US often say "SMS? Whats SMS?".

    I just recently started seeing commercials for ringtones on American TV, while it seems like 90% of European TV commercials have been for annoying ringtones for years now! I find it funny that on the American versions of the "Jamster" (Jamba in Germany) adverts they have to have a short blurb explaining what an SMS is.
    • Re:Aha (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I discovered the same thing when they started airing American Idol here in Finland. The depth and care taken by the host in explaining how to send a text message seems almost ridiculous when compared to the Finnish tv. All they say here is "Send a text message to this number."
    • Re:Aha (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Unknown Lamer (78415)

      The lack of knowledge of what SMS is can partially be blamed on the cell phone companies--none of them call SMS SMS, they call them text messages. It is less confusing for the masses I guess. People don't send you an SMS, they text you.

      It's worse for MMS since Multi-Media Message or even Picture Message (Picture Message is what most of the providers that offer MMS call it) takes way more time to type on a cell phone than MMS...

    • Re:Aha (Score:2, Informative)

      by plague3106 (71849)
      FYI...what you call SMS is probably refered to as 'text messaging' here. And we've had that a few years also...but maybe not before Europe or Japan.
  • by redelm (54142) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:39AM (#11931919) Homepage
    There are big differences in Euro & US phone usages, mostly driven by costs. US has had flat rate (fixed monthly pricing) in most areas. Euros have almost always paid by the minute (IIRC except *.fi). This slowed the adoption of dial-up internet, sped up cellphones & broadband.

    Old habits will die hard. I think Europeans will continue to use the phone for messages rather than as a surrogate for being there.

    • Paying to recieve calls and SMSs must make telesales people even more loved and admired!
      • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:53AM (#11932040)
        That's why in the U.S. it's been illegal for the telemarketers to call you on a cell if you also had a landline. They had to call the landline number. Now that we have a national 'Do Not Call' list for telemerketers, it's easier to give up your land line, knowing you won't get a bazillion telemarketing calls if you list your cell on the DNC list.
        • Almost but not quite. US regulations say no marketing calls to those who pay to receive.

          I'm just waiting for these "free to our customers" plans to get wide enough that its' economical for the marketers to have a set of Sprint/Nextel/US Cellular/etc phones so they can call those numbers, too....
      • Yeah, I just don't understand that either. What *was* the reasoning behind the US charging both the sender and recipient, instead of simply charging the entire amount to the sender? Especially since it opened up the possibility of abuse by telemarketers etc. and the resulting legislation, however effective that is. The only thing I can come up with is both telcos involved wanting to get a slice of each messages' profit or some interstate tax thing. We have multiple telcos in the EU though, and they all
        • The US (SMS, voicecell)system is a bit bizzare in that receiver pays. Sender pays makes much more sense to reduce unwanted calls. The only [historical] rationale is that US has been fixed-charge, so there's little mechanism for sender pays other than to make cellphone calls all long distance. And I suspect that cellphone customers (at first mostly biz) would much rather pay for incoming than reduce the calls they receive.

        • It encourages cuthroat competetion, encouraging people with cellphones to not self-delude themselves into thinking that most calls are incoming. (By definition, for every minute of outgoing call, there must be a minute of incoming.) This encourages businesses to keep prices very low.

          Also, adding on a special billing infrastructure for sender-pays, even for local calls, would have been a hard sale when the cellphones were first being produced. Since local calls are free in the US. Making it cost the caller
        • Early on they used to charge you for receiving a call in Australia - that model never took off fortunately.

          In the Philippines (where I am now) to send an SMS costs about 0.5 US cents. Very cheap, though the moment you make a voice call, it hits your wallet hard.

          SS7 has its negative side, they also hit you for the time spent waiting for the call to be answered. 20 rings to answer, that'll be an extra 100 peso thanks - just for listening to the tone. I suspect they do this all over the world though.
  • by JJ (29711)
    Considering that the actual wattage usage of a cell phone is more than 2 and a half times as great as the same connection via landline, I find the increase in cell phones hardly something to be admired.

    Just my ex-Greenpeace side kicking through though.
    • by Benm78 (646948) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:49AM (#11931997) Homepage
      Actually, I wonder which technology uses more energy if you account for the infrastructure too.

      Digging and closing holes to fit many many miles of telephone wire will lead to a fair amount of fuel being used. Also, the copper wires have to be produced which is quite energy intensive too.

      I have no idea on the total energy and monetery requirement to operate a mobile vs a land-based service, but I do have a gut feeling that the mobile service will be cheaper to construct in both aspects.

      Of course, there is quite a lot of pre-existing landline infrastructure, but that will have to be replaced some day, and new infrastructure is also required when new areas are built up. If you'd have to start from scratch, the mobile solution seems cheaper and faster to construct... many emerging nations even skip most of the landline phase.
      • by Seehund (86897) on Monday March 14, 2005 @12:38PM (#11933214) Homepage Journal
        I have no idea on the total energy and monetery requirement to operate a mobile vs a land-based service, but I do have a gut feeling that the mobile service will be cheaper to construct in both aspects.

        That's my gut feeling as well. Which is why I wonder why GSM calls are (still) an order of magnitude more expensive than POTS calls?

        Just like CDs never became cheaper than LPs when the technology matured. And where's my damn flying car? ;)
    • Bah... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Gruneun (261463) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:56AM (#11932072)
      Perhaps, you should picture the person on the landline sitting on a plastic chair, in an air-conditioned house, with the lights on. I, on the other hand, prefer to use my mobile phone only while sitting in a bird-sanctuary, on a weathered rock, warmed by the sun's rays.

      Besides, energy consumption shouldn't be nearly as great a concern as the process by which that energy has been generated.
      • by sczimme (603413)

        I, on the other hand, prefer to use my mobile phone only while sitting in a bird-sanctuary, on a weathered rock, warmed by the sun's rays.

        True, but if you are one of those gits who needs to SHOUT into the mobile you will have very few friends in the bird sanctuary.

        :-)
    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Monday March 14, 2005 @11:03AM (#11932138)
      That's why I try not to use my cellphone while I'm drivin' my Hummer...
    • Probably overstated.

      If a cellphone saves a trip to somewhere - say back to the store to get a forgotton item - then energy is quite clearly saved.

      Mobile communications are critical in reducing the amount of energy consumed per GDP. FedEx, Construction workers, Employees in large factories - all use mobiles to be more effecient - which inevitably saves energy.

      Your Greenpeace instincts are right - your data is wrong.

      AIK
  • by ari_j (90255) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:41AM (#11931933)
    I know this much - I once saw a cell phone ad where the guys are at a restaurant and the one uses the pepper grinder built into his phone. Then the ad cuts in, with the narrator asking, "Want a phone with the features you need?" before breaking into a list of just utterly useless garbage. Games, ringtones, a shitty camera, etc. My only thought was that the pepper mill would have been far more useful.
    • Heh heh.

      I'm still waiting to see the Swiss Army Phone: complete with dual blades, toothpicks, corkscrew, drill, nail file, USB key, etc. You know, all the stuff that'll keep the f*cking thing from getting on a plane.

      • Re:Useless Features (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Leo McGarry (843676) on Monday March 14, 2005 @11:26AM (#11932388)
        Actually, you hit on the one thing that I would like my phone to be able to do that it doesn't presently do: More easily store data.

        I'd like my phone to appear on my desktop the way an external hard drive or other mass-storage device does whenever I get into proximity with my computer. I'd like to be able to drag files to it to copy them to the phone over Bluetooth. I'd like text messages in the phone's memory to show up as notes on the phone's interface so I can more conveniently do things like storing driving directions. It's possible to store memos on the phone now, of course, but it requires a program and it's a pain in the rear.

        And I'd like it to have a gigabyte of memory instead of 2 MB or whatever.

        I'd happily trade the games, the camera, the little Internet browser thingy and the ass-ugly interface "themes" for features like those.
        • Re:Useless Features (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mollymoo (202721)

          I'd like my phone to appear on my desktop the way an external hard drive or other mass-storage device does whenever I get into proximity with my computer.

          My Siemens S55 does this. The entire filesystem (texts, pictures, contacts, java apps, settings, ringtones...) is browseable over bluetooth, serial or USB and you can drag & drop. Some Siemens phones have an SD/MMC slot, so you can stick a gig in if you like. You do need software on the host PC though (unless you use BT and OBEX, but that's not qui

  • Well, Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jameth (664111) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:41AM (#11931935)
    An FCC report said American mobile users talk more and pay less than Europeans, citing it as "evidence that the U.S. market is effectively competitive" compared to Europe and Japan.


    But eight of 10 European Union residents have mobile phone numbers while only six of 10 Americans do.

    Wow, more EU residents have cells than US residents do. With the differences they're citing, it's no wonder, seeing as America generally has a better POTS than Europe. In the US, it costs just a little bit of money to have unlimited local and incoming calls on a land-line, plus it never has an error, ever, of any sort. So, it's not much of a surprise that the US has slightly lower cell uptake.
    • Re:Well, Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wudbaer (48473)
      Regarding pricing the US are most likely still much better off than most European countries. Regarding land-line telephony I was shocked when I visited the US the last time (ok, several years ago, maybe it got better in the meantime) how absolutely bad the line quality was on most connections I had (line noise, crackling etc.). Also I nowhere found placing a long-distance call that complicated than in the US. So I really cannot see the mentioned higher quality of US POTS.
      • Also I nowhere found placing a long-distance call that complicated than in the US.

        If you had problems using 10 digit dialing, I severely worry about you.

        Placing a long distance call in the US is difficult? 1, plus the area code, plus the exchange, plus the number. Hell, many of us use 10 digit dialing for local calls as well. What's wrong in your brain that placing a long-distance call in the US is difficult?
        • Have you ever used a phone booth to place a long distance call in the U.S.? Fucking complicated! Listening to a lot of options: pay in coins, pay per credit card, finally finding someone actually talking to you just to tell him that you want to pay per coins... And nowhere a decent table with instructions. Using a phone booth in the U.S. causes a culture shock.

          In every other country of the world you just put your coins/your credit card/your prepaid card/whatever you use into the machine and dial a number.
          • Re:Well, Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

            The last time I used a phone booth for a LD call (cell was out of juice) was a couple weeks ago. You know what I did? "Insert coins and dial". The phone will have a dialing fee listed on it, and will then tell you (as the conversation progresses) when you need to add coins, and how many coins you need to add.

            If you're using a prepaid card, you call the 800 number for that card, dial your code, and then the number. Credit card? Dial 0 (operator), or the number of a LD company you want to use, and tell
          • Re:Well, Duh (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Leo McGarry (843676) on Monday March 14, 2005 @11:29AM (#11932413)
            I can't remember the last time I even saw a telephone booth, much less used one. Everybody has a mobile phone.

            (The six-out-of-ten figure the article quotes must count grammar-school kids, the elderly, criminals in prison and dead people. Because seriously, everybody between the ages of 13 and 60 has a mobile phone.)
      • I'm curious where you were the last time you visited our wonderful nation. The last time I heard crackling on a land line I later found out to be due to animals chewing on the cables.

        I suspect the quality varies largely with which Baby Bell's kingtom you're in but in my area (I get service through BellSouth)the land line quality is superb, even way out in the country.
      • Re:Well, Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dr_canak (593415) on Monday March 14, 2005 @11:47AM (#11932628)
        In my experience,

        Land lines in the US are overwhelmingly crystal clear, regardless of when and where you call from. In almost all cases, bad quality is on the phone, not the phone line. I have no idea what the percentages are, but I think almost everyone has gone cordless these days and that's where you here cracks and pops, faded connections, and interference. It has nothing to do with the actual land line, at least not in 99.9999% of cases.

        And I also agree with the other posts to this thread, calling in the US is about as easy as it gets. It's the same no matter where you are. The only difference lies in whether you need 10 digit dialing to make a local call. But you ought to be able to approach any phone, any where and use it just like the last phone you used.

        jeff
      • Re:Well, Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Wudbaer (48473) on Monday March 14, 2005 @12:06PM (#11932838) Homepage
        As I said, it's some time ago, 1995, to be specific (ok, long time in technology, but at least back then IMO the European land lines had a much better quality and were easier to use). I did several calls around NYC (Verizon) and in Massachusetts (?), both from pay phones and Motels. The quality of the pay phones was apalling ; the quality of phoning from the Motels not too bad but still IMO worse than you usually get in Europe.

        But what really drove me mad was this whole thing another poster described above "Welcome to *insert whichever long distance operator*. Please enter your major credit card or calling card number." *fighting with entering the card number* *wait* Depending on the operator: "The card number you gave is not valid. Thank you for playing." (back then either Sprint or MCI didn't take non-US credit card numbers, but amazingly not everytime but apparently depending on the geographic region you were in inside the US). So retry, this time trying to reach some other long distance operator using some prefix number, playing again the CC number game, getting thrown out of the system in the middle of the process for no apparent reason, lather rinse repeat. I really liked my stay in the US, but the telephone system really drove me mad.

        From phoning home in several European countries I was used to either just put in a half truckload of coins and phone away or getting a calling card that works troughout the whole country and not only for phones of a certain provider, dial my home number with the respective country prefix, and voila ! instant success.

        As said before, most likely it got better in the meantime, but back then it really really sucked.

  • by Asprin (545477) <gsarnold@NOSpAM.yahoo.com> on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:43AM (#11931951) Homepage Journal

    "...The article mainly discusses mobile phone usage, though."

    Well, that's the thing, then, isn't it? In the US, dirt is pretty cheap and plentiful, so land lines and wires that require poles to by strung up everywhere have predominated where the relative scarcity of space in European and Japanese cities has forced a much higher adoption rate for mobile technologies.

    Tell me if I'm wrong, eh?
    • "...The article mainly discusses mobile phone usage, though."

      Well, that's the thing, then, isn't it? In the US, dirt is pretty cheap and plentiful, so land lines and wires that require poles to by strung up everywhere have predominated where the relative scarcity of space in European and Japanese cities has forced a much higher adoption rate for mobile technologies.

      Tell me if I'm wrong, eh?

      You're wrong. The relative non-existence of cell-phones when land-lines in the US were being laid resulted in l

      • Tell me if I'm wrong, eh?

        You're wrong.

        No, he isn't; the high installation and service costs of wired infrastructure drove analog cellular network adoption in Europe and Japan in the 1980s, and network congestion drove the switch to digital cellular networks in the 1990s. I was there; apparently, you weren't.

        By contrast, the EU and Japan had half of all there infrastructure destroyed a bit before the fifties (see if you can guess why!) and then had a chance to rebuild with something newer.

        So, Europ

    • Cabling in the Netherlands tend to be underground. In fact almost no wiring is above ground, only powercables from the powerplants to distribution centers. From there on it is underground as well.

      Pita if you ask me, because if you want to dig somewhere to build a house for instance you have ti check if there are no cables running in the spot your going to dig at.

      However, it does keep the landscape nice and without too much poles and cables :-)
  • My view... (Score:5, Informative)

    by kunwon1 (795332) <dave.j.moore@gmail.com> on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:45AM (#11931965) Homepage

    I'm a born and bred American, lived there until I was 20. I've lived in Germany for the last three and a half years. I've made some trips back to the states, a few months here and there.

    In the US, for us common rabble, it's "Do you have a cellphone?" Whereas, in Europe, it's "What's your number?" Most people assume that if you're giving them a telephone number, it's your cell phone number. And they will not ask you if you are capable of receiving SMS, they will assume that you are. It is more common in Europe for someone to have a cell and no landline than it is for someone to have a landline and no cell.

    • True. I'm not sure what the exact cell phone usage is here in NL, but the most common response to "I don't have a cellphone", is an utterly disbelieving "what!?".
      • Re:My view... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Wyatt Earp (1029)
        Just for some numbers, and I think it'd be good for the discussion if someone pointed to all the numbers, not me, I've got finals...

        http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geo s/ nl.htm
        Telephones - mobile cellular - 12.5 million

        Telephones - main lines in use: - 10.004 million
    • It is more common in Europe for someone to have a cell and no landline than it is for someone to have a landline and no cell.

      This goes only for younger people. Most of the elder do not use a cell phone (or gsm as it's called here) indoors. They only use it when they have to leave the house or to call someone on a another gsm (since it's cheaper to call a gsm from another gsm then from a landline to gsm).

      For most younger people a gsm is more convenient and used like a normal landline phone. Most of this i
  • Not that the article specifically claims it to be news, but it seems like people are now just realizing the huge differences between America and Europe in this area.

    I'm 25. When I was 15, in high school, there were already a significant number of kids in my class with cell phones. Sure, the rest of us were talking behind their backs about how silly they were to spend so much money on something so useless, but that's 10 years ago.

    Nowadays I doubt the number of kids in that particular high school (age 13+)
  • The article seems to hint at too many options available preventing standardization.
    But when the dust WILL finally settle, who will be further along?

    I mean look at how Minitel delayed Internet acceptance in parts of europe. An old, entrenched "standard"

    Minitel is primitive.
    • But it did the job. Content is king. What use was the Web to the average Frenchman when most of the content wasn't in his language? That changed, and so did the number of web users in France. Minitel had the stuff people wanted, even if it was old and creaky.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    America's landline system was superior to Europe's. This was partly due to the fragmentation of the European market and partly due to the socialized phone companies in most countries. The Europeans did not make the same mistakes with wireless, resulting in a better quality of serverice for wireless. In general Europeans jumped to wireless faster because they were disatisfied with their landline service, compared to Americans. This has given Europe an initial edge, however in the long run I believe the US
    • In general Europeans jumped to wireless faster because they were disatisfied with their landline service

      This is complete and utter bullshit. I dare you to back it up.

      in the long run I believe the US approach is better

      Yeah? Well I believe the opposite, so there!Gee, this is a fun and constructive way of arguing, isn't it?

      Standardization has short term advantages, but in the long term it is more important to promote technological development.

      You make it sound like there is some kind of mutual exclu
    • It's not that easy.
      About 20 years ago the country with the most phone (land) lines per 1000 inhabitants was Norway (about 650 then), followed by Finland and Sweden. The U.S. was quite far behind. Regions like the former communist East Germany were at 92 phone lines per 1000 inhabitants, about the same as Uruguay, and the waiting lists to finally get a phone were long. It was easier to inherit a land line from someone than to apply for and get a new one. Most of the limits were put there with the old telepho
  • by famebait (450028) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:48AM (#11931987)
    It just annoys me that if governments hadn't got so greedy with the UMTS licenses and grabbed all the money that should have gone into deployment, we'd probably be even further ahead, maybe even ahead of japan too.

    Let's just hope they've learned something for the next time round: tax them _after_ the money is made, don't cripple things by charging it all upfront, while everyone else catches up.
  • by Underholdning (758194) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:51AM (#11932018) Homepage Journal
    Here's a list of the biggest differences (I've learnt how Americans use the phone by watching hollywood movies):
    • Never say goodbye. Just hang up - the person at the other end obviously knows the conversation is over.
    • Always repeat what the other person is saying out loud.
    • Repeatedly taps the hook if the phone dies. "Hello!?" *tap* *tap* *tap* as if that will magically restore the line.
  • No news here... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eminence (225397) <akbrandt&gmail,com> on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:53AM (#11932037) Homepage
    It's nothing new, all this has been well known throughout the industry for years. Two points that are missing from the Reuter's text are VoIP and Wi-Fi. Both phenomena are a direct result of America's (more) free market approach. And in both cases the explosion goes on in the US with Europe slowly catching on. It's overall cheaper to communicate if you are in the US then in Europe. So, dear Americans, don't whine, you've got a better deal anyway even without fancy ringtones ($2 each) or other stupid stuff like that.
  • Lousy article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBraynard (653724) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:53AM (#11932044) Journal
    U.S. cell phones sputter and fail in an apartment near the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, a U.S. agency created to set consistent standards, and in ranch houses in the Los Angeles suburbs. A land line is a necessity... Europeans can skip fixed lines altogether. Why bother? A GSM works nearly everywhere..."

    This has absolutly nothing to do with GSM versus other networks but with network coverages.

    Americans have made voicemail a way of life, where it often replaces the busy signal. A conversation can be supplanted by voice mail exchanges. Europeans often skip voicemail, although they have sophisticated versions. Their mobiles automatically send a note saying "1 missed call," and tell them who called. People call back even without a message.

    Funny, I've had a cell phone in the US going back to 1997 and this feature was on the first one I owned with AT&T. It was also on the second and third one I owned with Sprint, and the fourth one I owned with T-Mobile.

    --Americans traditionally have paid to receive mobile phone calls and tend to be less free about giving out cell phone numbers.

    This has less to do with the regulatory environment than with call screening and the consideration that if you are calling me on business, I'd rather you talk to my receptionist first.

    Overall, this article featured a few stats that could have barely populated the bottom right graphic of the USA Today Money section and stretched it out into a three page article. Fluff journalism strikes again.

    • [lack of coverrage] has absolutly nothing to do with GSM versus other networks but with network coverages.

      That is the point the article is making, that network coverage is poor so often in the US, not in remote areas, but in normal suburban areas.

      Mind you, their assumption that this is down to multiple standards isn't obviously true. After all, having everyone use GSM doesn't mean that every phone can talk to every base station, since that is down to network policy.

      I suppose the wide use of GSM probab

      • Re:Lousy article (Score:3, Informative)

        by Solandri (704621)
        I suppose the wide use of GSM probably makes the hardware cheaper, which would make more and smaller cells economical.

        The problem with poor coverage in the US in sub/urban areas was due to poor early implementation. There was a significant analog network already in place, so the companies rolling out digital networks weren't necessarily the ones developing digital networks. The companies who were developing digital networks often oversold their capabilities to the phone companies (yeah blame it in marke

  • "Europeans traditionally pay by the minute for both fixed lines and mobiles."

    Knew some about GSM and stuff, but had no idea about this! Guess this isn't something you'd be as likely to find out about as a tourist.
  • I noticed a variation in phone culture in the US. It's sort of a difference in the "handshaking" part at the beginning of the call. It happened when I started dating this girl from Wisconsin. Apparently they have a different protocol up there.

    Here's standard protocol in Texas (she says it's anywhere in the south):

    Ring

    Recipient: Hello?

    Caller: Hey [insert recipient's name] it's [caller's name].

    Recipient: Oh, hey, what's up?

    Begin Conversation.

    It's that last reply that she would always leave out. I
  • Europeans often skip voicemail, although they have sophisticated versions. Their mobiles automatically send a note saying "1 missed call," and tell them who called. People call back even without a message.

    News flash - so does my ancient Nokia 5160. Caller ID is part of the package. Apparently the writer doesn't know how to use his phone or he'd know that.

    And I'd like to know what magic allows a phone to work at "the bottom of a salt mine in Poland." It doesn't matter whether you use GSM or a mix of th

  • Suprised Me.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chi Hsuan Men (767453) on Monday March 14, 2005 @11:07AM (#11932177) Homepage
    When I studied aboard in Ireland (Spring, 02') I was absolutely amazed at how mobile phones kept people connected and governed most young peoples' social lives.

    Personally, I was very anti-mobile phone when I arrived there, but I was told that you really needed to have one if you wanted to be at all socially active. My first weekend there was a home stay with a family in rural Limerick (rural meaning they lived on a farm, had cattle, but no shower). The entire family had mobile phones, even their 10 year-old daughter.

    The flat I stayed in (with 6 other Irish students) didn't even have a land line, (ironically enough, it was wired for LAN; however, I was the only person with a laptop) everyone used mobile phones. The crazy thing was, they rarely actually TALKED to each other, they simply sent text messages back and forth. Most of their plans were pre-paid, so, to get the most use out of their Euros, they would simply text each other.

    The funny thing is, now that I'm back home and with a phone, despite my x amount of minutes a month for free and free "in calling", I still text message all of my friends.

    I guess I'm just proud of my l337 phone typing skillz I accrued while abroad.
  • talk is cheap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday March 14, 2005 @11:08AM (#11932195) Homepage Journal
    This article is BS. It basically says "Americans get more minutes of talking for less money than Europeans, but don't use the call management features as well, because the US government has only recently started leaving telcos alone, while Europe's governments have meddled with their telcos". What does any of that have to do with the US GSM dropping calls all the time? How about the unreliability of US callerID, because there's no universal inter-telco standard?

    Consider the effects of US market saturation with landlines before mobiles appeared, compared to Europe's many "first time callers" without any phones when mobiles were first offered? How about Europeans many languages, in which people can more easily communicate with short SMS messages, rather than demanding interactive multilingual voice calls? Or the role mobile phones play in teenage consumer cultures, in car-hungry America vs. poorer teenage Europe?

    No, none of those answers would blame the government for interfering with culture. Some of them might even blame corporations for bad service! And when you get your info from a London telco marketer and an FCC PR flack, why would you bother to validate that solid-gold wisdom "from the horse's mouth"?
  • (Quick asside: someone once told me they hate the term "land-line" but is there a more descriptive term? POTS is clear to me but not obvious to others.)

    I dumped the notion of having a land-line long ago. Mobile phones are just about as cheap and more versatile. At the moment, I live alone and I have no need for more than one phone line... and if I did, I'd just get another mobile anyway. I used to have ADSL but then I moved and it wasn't available so I got cable. Hence, no further reason for a land-li
    • someone once told me they hate the term "land-line" but is there a more descriptive term?

      Sure, there are any number of words. You can call it a telephone line, for starters. Everybody understands that.

      POTS is clear to me but not obvious to others

      Avoid acronyms. Always. It's just a good rule of thumb. Once your grandmother knows an acronym, it's okay to use it: DVD, ATM. Until then, use actual words. Don't say "POTS." Say "telephone line."
  • When I lived in Germany for a year, I like most every other student there, had a prepaid cell phone and learned how to use SMS as no one really used their phones to talk unlike the US.

    Now that phones can log into services such as AIM or MSN messanger I wonder how that is changing?

    One of the major reasons why people use SMS's in Germany, at least, was because there was a fix price per SMS and it was generally cheaper than talk time.

  • I've worked in fixed-line telecoms in the UK, for a US company, so I've seen a lot of both.

    Basically, the US telecoms industry never recovered from AT&T being broken up. It's catching up with UK & Scandinavia fast, but it started a long, long way behind.

    The incompatibilities across the country are just one aspect of that. There are two different GSM frequency bands used within the UK by different networks, and not long ago your phone would only work on one or the other. Nowadays all phones work

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