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Comment: Re:Corporations are not people (Score 1) 139

I got asked by a CBP officer on one of the occasions I came in to the US last year if I paid bribes in India (I think it was at ORD).

I answered him honestly (I'm neither American nor Indian) to which he replied that I was brave for doing business there and sent me on my way.

Comment: Re:Own a cablebox WITHOUT any fees? (Score 1) 97

by mgcarley (#46697861) Attached to: FCC Orders Comcast To Stop Labeling Equipment Rental a Service Fee

In many countries (especially in Europe) modems/cable boxes/etc are included in the price of the service - I don't seem to recall being charged extra for ISP-supplied equipment in France, Japan, Finland, Georgia, Ukraine or New Zealand**, but either perhaps I didn't notice or it's simply built in to the price over the term of the contract (that is, it's an implied overhead so it's accounted for by locking you in for 12-24 months)... but typically you're on a term contract in the US as well so there's no difference there anyway.

And I seem to remember Free & Neuf boxes being valued at something in the vicinity of 200 euros at one time as well, so they're no cheaper.

**May also vary by ISP but may also be entirely wrong about the whole situation in some or all countries - correct me if I'm wrong.

Comment: Re:As a guy from Europe (Score 1) 97

by mgcarley (#46697689) Attached to: FCC Orders Comcast To Stop Labeling Equipment Rental a Service Fee

Especially when "tips", as it turns out, are supposed to legally make up the actual hourly rate paid to the server to meet minimum wage, for example, the server's hourly pay is $2.50, it is expected they will make at least $6 in tips per hour causing their total hourly rate to equal the $8.50 minimum wage (numbers loosely based on Illinois, I don't know specific wage rates for other states)... so if customers stiff the server on their tips, the server gets screwed.

As a non-American though, I agree with you: tips (and prices being advertised without taxes, for that matter) are bloody annoying - I used to get caught out all the time when I first came to the US. I'd hate to be in the service industry here.

Comment: Re:No more roaming charges ? Thats great !! (Score 1) 148

Only a handful? There are 12 operators in India. Not MVNOs (which are technically illegal, although some are little more than additional brands established through Joint-Ventures with the bigger players, especially Tata) but operators with their own towers and licenses and all.

There used to be 14 before Etisalat and that other one (Spice?) shut up shop... and with Loop now having been acquired that'll bring it down to 11... but compare that to say, China (3) or Russia (4) or even the US (effectively 5 if we do not include MVNOs) so India has A LOT of choice.

And roaming charges are not exorbitant - paying under Rs1 per minute (close enough to US$0.01 that it doesn't matter) and the fact that you can easily switch to one of the many plans that allows you unlimited roaming to different states for under Rs100 (Rs62 to the $1 makes that less than $1.50 for a month) or in some cases even free -- OR if you're not from Mumbai or Delhi you can have service from BSNL and they have their IndiaOne tariff which gets rid of domestic roaming charges altogether... mobile services are some of the cheapest in the world. Even 3G back when it was released in India was about half the price (per GB) as compared to many developed countries, and prices have only gone down since then.

Roaming charge citations:
http://www.airtel.in/mobile/pr...
https://www.vodafone.in/prepai...

And even for international roaming, Vodafone has stuff like free incoming texts so if I'm out of the country I can receive an SMS about whatever and call back if it's urgent or write an email or Skype or whatever.

What costs a lot in India? Data. Yes on mobile (because it's mobile, this is somewhat expected) but more-so on wired connectivity - that was my big shocker when I first moved there, and why I do what I do.

Comment: Re:These companies need to be split up (Score 1) 90

by mgcarley (#46619221) Attached to: Charter Challenges Comcast/Time Warner Merger

Which numbers are you referring to? The numbers I quoted are what I pay as direct costs... The cost of regulation is another matter entirely, but even then there are also subsidies offered left, right and centre in some areas which can counteract some or sometimes most of these costs.

For providers offering phone service, there's usually between $5 and $10 on top of the advertised monthly rate that's taken directly from the subscriber as "taxes and fees" for stuff like 911 (which I think is absurd - other countries manage to fund their emergency numbers just fine) - we have something like 8 line-items on our invoices IIRC, it's ridiculous.

As far as other costs are concerned, the franchise agreements in some cases give almost free reign over the rights of way so there's not really any additional payment or differing rates as I understand it, it's just one big bulk thing - in my case, I'm in a Mediacom town and I've seen some really shitty cabling on their part (including stuff run across the ground and just left lying there for what has now been... 4 months?), yet, we got bitched at for having a cable secured in a slightly incorrect way which was 1. temporary (72 hours) and 2. was actually secured to the surface and, we believe, less of a hazard than some of what we've seen. Of course, we don't have a franchise //yet// either.

I deal almost exclusively with smaller towns though so my situation may not be representative of what happens in larger cities - I can imagine those being a complete bitch simply due to their size and the extra layers. I do agree, however, that the "playing fields" **should** be level, monopolies should be absolutely verboten and as above, that all infrastructure should be shared with any licensed provider who wishes to use it (the latter would probably prevent some of these mega-mergers too).

Comment: Re:These companies need to be split up (Score 1) 90

by mgcarley (#46618203) Attached to: Charter Challenges Comcast/Time Warner Merger

Err... I've seen a bunch of franchise agreements in places we've looked at operating and none of them were exclusive.

There are other barriers though (company has to be a registered CLEC or cable TV operator, FCC hoops to jump through including registrations and contributions which are simply downright confusing and so forth... oh, and sometimes working with the cities themselves can be a royal pain in the arse and/or painstakingly slow).

As for banning competition, I think that's a new thing with those municipalities that have done so, and said bans are probably not entirely legal anyway.

Comment: Re:These companies need to be split up (Score 1) 90

by mgcarley (#46618175) Attached to: Charter Challenges Comcast/Time Warner Merger

What are the pole leasing rates where you are? In So IL, it costs $9/year per pole, or about what... $0.75 a month per pole? If you assume 25% penetration (or we say that 1 in 4 houses has cable) & roughly 1 pole per 2 houses passed (judging by what I can see out my window), that means about $1.50/cust/mo goes to poles in built-up areas.

Granted, it could possibly be cheaper, but it's not as absurd or exorbitant as it seems to be being made out to be.

Disclaimer: Prices are based on leasing space on Ameren poles, does not include the cost of having their engineers come to examine the poles to make sure my cables won't cause them to fall over and stuff. I'm on the ISP side & I think all the infrastructure - including cabling - should be shared/open for any provider to use. I also think providers in this country charge too much for too little service, there isn't enough competition, and that the Comcast/TWC merger ultimately is probably a bad idea for consumers.

Comment: Re:I only wish... (Score 1) 517

I respect people's right to be religious. What I do not respect is their right to shove it down my throat or teach it to my children - especially as a factual, scientific thing. Or even as a subject of any kind: if I wanted them to learn a particular religion, I would take them to a particular church. If I'm raising my kids to be Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims, I would take them to an appropriate temple or mosque.

Who in their right mind thinks they have the right to teach them Christianity as the only "correct" doctrine, especially in a nation where church and state are supposed to be separate?

End of the day, it boils down to this: Religion is a choice. Science (and the things that govern science, like the laws of physics and chemical compounds and fossils and bio-diversity and what-have-you) is not. As such, they should keep it to themselves.

And this is why I respect Jimmy Wales telling the holistic people what he's telling them (maybe he could add the fodder about Steve Jobs and his holistic approach shortening his life)

Comment: I only wish... (Score 1) 517

...the powers that be in the US would take a similar approach with other things like evolution vs creationism in schools and all the hoo-hah surrounding NDTs Cosmos series...

"Prove it", meaning, prove it by means OTHER THAN throwing a bible in my face and saying "See? Here it is written! IT IS THE TRUTH!!!!1!1!!!"

Yeah, well, fossils, motherfucker - the only thing I've ever gotten from your book is confused and wondering where all the historical evidence is to correlate the story.

Comment: Re:Start the supplanting already (Score 1) 466

by mgcarley (#46577167) Attached to: AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

Happy to do it, but who will fund the initial build? Should I go out to every customer in town and promise them a future service in exchange for them signing up and pre-paying for it now? I don't know about you but that would smell of a scam to me.

Personally I think Google's progress isn't half bad, all things considered - and they have pretty deep pockets compared to many budding operators which I expect offers them some advantage.

For the record, I'd love to peer or host a Netflix box, but we're not pulling enough traffic from them yet, so for now my Netflix packets will have to come from Level3.

Comment: Mercedes (Score 1) 178

by mgcarley (#46535631) Attached to: Your Car Will Soon Sense If You're Tired Or Not Paying Attention

Hasn't the S-Class had this for a couple of years already now? I seem to recall seeing something about it on Top-Gear.

May not have been an S-Class, it just seems to ring a bell since that series is usually first to get bleeding-edge stuff like this that finds it's way in to regular cars a few years later.

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