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Comment Re:What needs to be broken (Score 1) 745

I agree completely that the competition among the US cell phone carriers is too weak. Here in Denmark(Europe) GSM has been the only technology in use for quite a while. There are no exclusivity deals, you can usually buy a phone with or without a plan, and plans are only allowed to last for six months. This have driven down the cost of using a cell phone and spread the usage at an astounding rate. The addition of network less cell phone carriers have accelerated the drop in price beyond what many thought was possible. The state mandates that carriers must carry network less carriers at a cost that is "reasonable". What is a reasonable price can of course be debated. The carriers don't like it, but there is no reason that they should be making huge profits, as a consequence of their natural monopolies, when they could easily survive on medium profits. The network less carriers don't earn money on the networks so they have to be very efficient in order to make a profit on the margin. Their pricing structures are much simpler than the typical carriers, in that they don't have strange artificial limits, where you get hit by a hefty price hike after reaching a certain limit. They instead use fixed flat low rates. This means that you don't get any surprises, as the price goes up linearly with your usage. Another good thing about these new network less carriers, which is not intuitive, is that they often provide a better customer service experience than the old carriers. Maybe this is because they're often small and very efficient?

I my opinion the following has to happen for the US cell phone carrier market to become competitive:
1. GSM only: Competition will increase when consumers can move freely between the carriers without any technical barriers. It will cost the carriers a lot of money to replace equipment, so they should have a long warning time and receive some form of compensation.
2. Shorten the contracts: If customers are bound by shorter contracts, then they can move faster to another carrier if they don't like the one they have. This will again increase competition as customers don't have to put up with a poor and expensive service.
3. No exclusivity deals: This will make customers choose the carrier on its merits, and not by which phone they like. This will avoid situations where people a forced to use a specific carrier, that they don't like, because they really like the cell phone they're offering(the Apple iPhone is a good example of this).
4. Simpler plans: There way plans can be structured has to be regulated. This seems very invasive, but it's at this point not possible for customers to compare two offers from two competing carriers and conclude which one is the cheaper. Simpler plans with flat pricing models will allow the customers to easily choose the cheapest carrier.
5. Network less carriers: This is in my opinion the most controversial suggestions of them all. The specification of a reasonable price for carrying other companies traffic will be very hard, and it will probably be seen by many as a too invasive form of regulation from the federal government.

I think that competition between the cell phone carriers will flourish in the US if points one through four is enacted. Enactment of the last point would be the cherry on the top, but I don't think it's very realistic to suggest regulation of prices in the US without a big uproar from the carriers. I really hope that things will change, as I'm soon moving to the US and will have to suffer with the poor competition.

Michael Mc Donnell

The Courts

Submission + - SCO vs. Novell ruling: SCO lost (groklaw.net)

Mac_D83 writes: "From story on Groklaw.net: "Hot off the presses: Judge Dale Kimball has issued a 102-page ruling [PDF] on the numerous summary judgment motions in SCO v. Novell. Here it is as text. Here is what matters most: [T]he court concludes that Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights. That's Aaaaall, Folks! The court also ruled that "SCO is obligated to recognize Novell's waiver of SCO's claims against IBM and Sequent". That's the ball game. There are a couple of loose ends, but the big picture is, SCO lost. Oh, and it owes Novell a lot of money from the Microsoft and Sun licenses.""

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