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Decoding Mobile Carriers' Latest Push For Profits 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-a-trap-for-that dept.
snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Galen Gruman sifts through the 'doubleplus ungood' of this year's CTIA and Mobile World Congress to spell out 'Big Brother' mobile carriers' true designs for IT and smartphone users. From fake 4G salespitches, to mobile payment systems that hide text-messaging payment confirmation fees, to the inevitability of tier pricing for mobile data usage, no facet of smartphone use is beyond providers' latest profit-engineering push. Even IT's concerns over the invasion of mobile devices at their companies has become 'a great excuse to sell warmed-over management tools to fearful IT and security execs.' And make no mistake, mea culpas, like AT&T admitting to falling short on relieving 3G congestion, will result in additional opportunities to pad providers' bottom lines by, say, buying a $150 femtocell from AT&T to help AT&T 'solve' its problem. 'Of course, in typical Big Brother fashion, [AT&T] told the US government to stay out of wireless — meaning don't regulate prices or impose Net neutrality — while also asking the government for more spectrum. You know the contradiction: The government is good when it gives you free or cheap services but bad when it tries to impose regulation to prevent abusive behavior: doublethink ungood.'"
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Decoding Mobile Carriers' Latest Push For Profits

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  • "You know the contradiction: The government is good when it gives you free or cheap services but bad when it tries to impose regulation to prevent abusive behavior: doublethink ungood.'"
     
    Sounds like corporations really are just like individual [meat] persons.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Corporations are amoral (immoral ?) actors. They do what is best for their organization/corporation and everyone else be damned.

      Ironically, this seems to mean that Corporations, were they real persons, would be voting Democrat, not Republican.

      • "Amoral" is correct. A corporation has about as much morals as a rock or tree.

        My cellphone company (Virgin) offers a good rate on voice calling, but their dataplan sucks. $4 for every 20 megabytes. I download that much over my slow dialup connection every hour; over DSL every 5 minutes. I was planning to get that new Opera Mini so I can look-up stuff on the go, but that changed my mind. I can't afford it.

        I'll stick with wired.

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        I dont think you understand what a Democrat stands for, nor do you understand what a Republican stands for in the business world.
        • Are you sure? I watch Fox News, and they say Democrats are bad, and this article is about how wireless carriers are bad, so obviously, by the transitive properties of bad, Democrats are wireless carriers.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      I don't understand why this is modded Insightful. A corporation isn't really a life form in itself, it's just a legal entity. It does whatever running it (people) want. Meaning I could rewrite the parent as:

      "Sounds like people really are just like individual [meat] persons."

      Yes... insightful.

      • by vegiVamp (518171)

        The difference being, corporations are run by *groups* of people, usually with differing opinions on how to behave. Thus: "sounds like groups of people are just like individual [meat] persons."

        Except, of course, that a single person can be pro, contra or neutral on any given subject. A group of people can be those, too, but the end result is usually not a unanimous decision, and that's where it becomes murky - if 40% vote pro the "evil" course, 30% vote contra, and 30% don't care; the evil course is followe

        • by SeaFox (739806)

          They may have differing opinions as individuals, but overall they share a general pattern of behavior, especially in the boardroom, that would yield a shared opinion which would support this type of double standard when it comes to regulation and government intervention in business. So it seems like "groups of people" but as part of indoctrination into corporate culture they've homogenized into what acts more like a single "evil" person.

          The upper branches of corporations promote and build their ranks with i

  • T-Mobile (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday March 27, 2010 @09:22AM (#31638922) Journal

    Not quite as fast as AT&T, but it's worth it not to deal with all the BS from the larger carriers.

  • by NightWhistler (542034) <<alex> <at> <nightwhistler.net>> on Saturday March 27, 2010 @09:24AM (#31638936) Homepage

    This has to be the most biased write-up I've seen in a while... sure, most carriers are probably Lawful Evil, but this makes me want to avoid the whole article like the plague....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jurily (900488)

      Slashdot just used up all their Big Brother references for the year.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by v1 (525388)

      This has to be the most biased write-up I've seen in a while

      I was wondering about that when I read it. Kinda sounds like they're pulling facts up out of the sand too...

      Throw in multiple bandwidths for the CDMA 2G/3G technology used by Sprint and Verizon Wireless, and you quickly get so many technology and frequency variations that the phones can't easily be designed to support them all. Adding the circuitry and multiple radio tuners to support every possibility quickly causes space, power usage, and heat i

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        It's quite possible. For example, if you need to support different bands you may not have the space or budget to put in a completely separate radio system for each. So you make some parts multi-frequency. Instead of a nicely tuned radio subsystem you end up with design compromises, and the whole thing is a little less efficient.

        Piling more radios into a case of a given size means things have to be packed closer together, which can cause heat problems even if you're not actually producing any more heat.

        Al

        • by v1 (525388)

          Instead of a nicely tuned radio subsystem you end up with design compromises, and the whole thing is a little less efficient.

          Dropped calls, out of service areas, battery life, and ease of use are the "big four" in what sells a cell phone. Most manufacturers try very hard to maximize the first three by using the most efficient, highly-tuned receivers and transmitters available. They usually get publicly crucified otherwise. The cell phone market is by nature such a social climate that anything bad about y

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            "don't just cheapen the tuning - they either make it bigger or don't include all the bands"

            I hate to tell you, but very few people look at battery life, or dropped calls before they sign a cell contract, and after that it's just too bad. Someone might check out the service areas, but it's not that likely. Battery life, ditto.

            Probably the biggest feature when selling the average person cell service is the phone. Interface, sort of, and form factor. So you don't just make the phone bigger. You drop the e

  • Big Brother (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stile 65 (722451) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @09:29AM (#31638978) Homepage Journal

    I do not think this [phrase] means what you think it means.

  • by Rydia (556444) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @09:33AM (#31639006)

    "InfoWorld's Galen Gruman sifts through the 'doubleplus ungood' of this year's CTIA and Mobile World Congress to spell out 'Big Brother' mobile carriers' true designs for IT and smartphone users."

    This sentence does a good job of informing the reader that article in question is an insightful and objective look at new mobile telecom strategies.

  • Absurd (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Both the summary and the article are absurd.

  • Prophets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Graff (532189) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @09:44AM (#31639056)

    A corporation wants to make profits? *gasp* I've never heard of such a thing!

    BTW, if you check out the submitter, snydeq [slashdot.org], you can easily see that he is a mouthpiece for Infoworld [infoworld.com], the corporation that is publishing the article in question. What sinister plans does Infoworld have for its latest push for profits?

    Let's not over-characterize a company trying different ways to make profits as being "Big Brother". That term has a specific meaning related to the government, go read some George Orwell if you've forgotten exactly what it means. Yes, some companies may use slight-of-hand and other tricks to get more money out of you but it's far from being "Big Brother".

    This is especially true when you spread your article out a few paragraphs at a time across 4 different pages. We know that trick, it's called padding your ad revenue with additional page views. Oooooh, who's the Big Brother corporation now Infoworld?

    • Re:Prophets (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CAIMLAS (41445) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @10:26AM (#31639262) Homepage

      Let's not over-characterize a company trying different ways to make profits as being "Big Brother". That term has a specific meaning related to the government, go read some George Orwell if you've forgotten exactly what it means. Yes, some companies may use slight-of-hand and other tricks to get more money out of you but it's far from being "Big Brother".

      In 1984, there was no distinction of the Corporation. That's not really surprising: in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and more recently in countries like Venezuela, there has been no distinction between the Corporation and the State because the Corporation is, essentially, dissolved into the state.

      In such a situation, the corporation does the state's bidding and works in collusion with said state. They might do it openly or they might do it covertly. With ATT and others effectively working on the government's behalf to push the monitoring society forward, I'd not say the claim that ATT is part of Big Brother is that far off. But the same can (should) be said for pretty much every media organization (specifically) and organizations which have large amounts of personal data on our everyday lives.

      (But yes, OP did use it wrong.)

      • by Graff (532189)

        In 1984, there was no distinction of the Corporation. That's not really surprising: in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and more recently in countries like Venezuela, there has been no distinction between the Corporation and the State because the Corporation is, essentially, dissolved into the state.

        I'm not saying that a corporation CAN'T be Big Brother, just that this situation definitely doesn't fit with the concept.

        Unless, of course, you are amazingly paranoid and think that the government owns everything and everyone. Except you, of course. Wait, how do you know that you aren't a hidden tool of government too? Hmm, you'd better be careful around yourself...

        *grin*

        • by swb (14022)

          It's the other way around.

          The basis of the modern government's power is the monopoly on the use of force. In order to maintain and enforce this monopoly, the government must have a source of funding. Without that funding, the government maintains the legal monopoly but no longer can enforce a practical monopoly on the use of force.

          Since those in government wish to maintain their power and their positions in government, they accept funding from private entities. In exchange for funding the government, pri

          • by Graff (532189)

            Since those in government wish to maintain their power and their positions in government, they accept funding from private entities. In exchange for funding the government, private parties are granted exclusivity arrangements which enable monopoly control over sectors of the economy which are enforced by the government's ability to exercise use of force.

            Whether corporations end up owning the government or the government swallows up the corporations it pretty much ends the same way, one monolithic entity controlling all production. This has been tried several ways in the past (India Trading Company and British Colonies are a close example, the Soviet Union is another) and really hasn't worked out well in the long-term. Without competition the monolithic entity tends to become inefficient and either collapses or is overthrown. Of course too much competition

            • by swb (14022)

              China is doing a decent job demonstrating that it can work, at least in the near term.

              I'm not sure any system is good enough over the really long haul, even the Romans couldn't make it persistent.

              • by Graff (532189)

                China is doing a decent job demonstrating that it can work, at least in the near term.

                I'm not sure any system is good enough over the really long haul, even the Romans couldn't make it persistent.

                China is actually going away from being a pure communist state and adopting a bit of capitalism. We'll see if it works out or if they are just setting themselves up for problems. Remember that it's usually not during the most oppressive times that there's the most problems, it's usually when the people get a taste of freedom that they rail against their chains and cause havoc.

                Over the long haul, yeah it's tough to find a truly stable system. The best you can hope for is to cycle between the various systems

    • by sjames (1099)

      It's not the making profit part that's evil, it's how they go about it. They COULD offer a decent service at a decent price and turn a profit and nobody would be the least bit concerned. Instead, they deceive the customer at every turn. Properly, they should be called "little brother" since they are not government but still use many of Big Brother's tricks like calling a reduction an increase, but that's a touch pedantic.

      If Infoworld offered you dozens of links to the same article all with different paginat

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      So, which telecom company do you work for? This game is easy.

      That term has a specific meaning related to the government

      O RLY? [wikipedia.org]

      I mean, SRSLY? [wikipedia.org]

      • by Graff (532189)

        What part of "related to the government" didn't you understand. I didn't say "related to TV" or any other kind of relation, in fact I SPECIFICALLY referred to George Orwell's use of the term. (Since, after all, he's the one that coined it!) I hardly think that a TV show or a commercial truly fit the context of the article since it specifically refers to several terms used in the book.

        Go read the book, then come back. I'll wait for ya...

    • Let's see if this rings a bell. Buy up all of the finite resource (wireless spectrum) charge your customers outrageous prices to use said resource (wireless service) profit forever... yay CAPITALISM.

      See Tank Girl for a more entertaining journey into the wonderful nature of capitalism.
      • by Graff (532189)

        Let's see if this rings a bell. Buy up all of the finite resource (wireless spectrum) charge your customers outrageous prices to use said resource (wireless service) profit forever... yay CAPITALISM.

        I'm not sure you understand exactly how the wireless auctions work but if you take a look at it you'll see that it's nearly impossible for such a thing to happen. It's actually set up pretty decently to avoid just this situation.

        Besides which, I'm not exactly sure that this directly relates to my post. Perhaps you would care to go back, re-examine what I said, and elaborate? We'll all be waiting with bated breath, I'm sure...

        See Tank Girl for a more entertaining journey into the wonderful nature of capitalism.

        Yes, I often consult comic books to fulfill my intellectual needs. I mean, most tim

  • by saterdaies (842986) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @10:40AM (#31639378)

    It makes statements like, "Other carriers are slapping the 4G label on a 3G-based technology, LTE". That's incorrect. LTE is part of the upgrade path for GSM/HSPA, but it's a completely new air interface using OFDM rather than HSPA's CDMA air interface. Just because something comes out of the same standards body doesn't make it 3G-based technology. Based on that logic, all of these technologies are based on old-fashioned radio technology. The author seems to want to imply that most 4G is just re-branded 3G that won't help users.

    It says things like the iPhone being "just one device used by 3 percent of [AT&T's] customers." That's flat out wrong. Last quarter, AT&T activated 3.1 million iPhones. AT&T activated iPhones for more than 3% of its customer base *in a single quarter* and over 46% of AT&T's post-pay customer base used integrated devices as of the last quarter. Was there no fact checker for this article?

    Finally, the article says that 4G won't solve the spectrum/capacity issue. It provides no evidence for this and merely rants about how you can't use a phone made for one carrier on another carrier and, therefore, nothing will ever work right. Yes, it's disappointing that all carriers don't use the same technology and spectrum bands, but that hardly has anything to do with capacity. The fact is that 4G is likely to solve a lot of capacity issues. With a 4G, all-VoIP solution, carriers should be able to get voice usage down to a fraction of their bandwidth. That's huge. Yes, 4G will see users consume more data as it gives them a faster, better experience. However, people aren't likely to start streaming audio at 512kbps or video above what YouTube and Hulu are pushing anytime soon. So it's likely that 4G will see an increase in available bandwidth considerably above any increase in customer usage. Plus, when talking about websites and such, the majority of the time is still spent with the connection idle as the user reads the page.

    4G will improve our wireless experience by improving speeds and alleviating some capacity issues.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Svartalf (2997)

      Heh... I'd have to concur. The "double-plus-ungood" article is just as much wrong. LTE AND WiMax are both part of the "4G" spec. It is very much wrong to claim that WiMax isn't 4G and Sprint's lying about it and making "fake" 4G adverts- they're not. Neither is Clear which is also working up to being a mobile voice provider in addition to data. The moment they got that wrong, I quit reading. They might be right in that they're doing big-brother stuff, all of the carriers- but if you can't get that

      • They're not part of the 4G spec. They're 3.9G. 4G requires the ability to reach much higher theoretical speeds. What you're thinking of is LTE Advanced and 802.16m, aka WIMAX 2, that are capable of 100mbit/s mobile and 1gb/s stationary peak speeds.
  • by RobertLTux (260313) <[robert] [at] [laurencemartin.org]> on Saturday March 27, 2010 @10:52AM (#31639466)

    Congress needs to "Man Up" and write a bill giving the Communications companies a dead line of say 6 years to have
    This List of things done. During the the wait time tax Corporate Bonuses an extra 15% and of course forbid any increases in salary above the inflation rate for this time. Of course if a company does in fact certify the list as being done (and have IRS types sign off) then they can stop paying the extra tax.

    If the list is not done for any reason the extra tax jumps to 40% when the dead line hits.

    the biggest problem is way to much money is being used to pad corporate profits and CXO bonuses and not enough is being used to oh PROVIDE SERVICES.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A corporation is a group of people. They get together, they bring their capital, and then they set out to accomplish something. In the process, those people empoy other people. If the task that those people attempt to accomplish is productive then the corporation will turn a profit. There is nothing wrong with this.

    The behavior that we always need to be wary of from these incorporated people is that the engaging in rent seeking and monopolistic favors from government. The summary sort of says this, but

    • Um, no. The majority of telecom investors are short-term, jump-the-ship investors who couldn't care less about the long-term success and simply want to earn as much money as possible in as short a time as possible, so they can sell their stock and move on to greener pastures. Corporations used to be about benefiting the community as a whole until the 80s.
  • There is a new brand in the US called Straight Talk (owned by Tracfone)that is only sold at Wal-Mart, has the same coverage as Verizon. $45/mo for unlimited $30/mo for 1k min, 1k txt, 30MB data. It seems to have forced many of the pre-paid plans get a bit more reasonable in price. While there was plans around this price they usually didnt have the coverage to go with it, these do... Their phone selection sort of blows but other than that its been a good service.

    I do work where they sell these.. At first peo

  • The FCC should be more interested in protecting consumers. Requiring standards that allow phones to easily move from network to network would be a good start.

    What about the government paying independent companies to build infrastructure, such as towers, throughout the nation, and then allow mobile carriers to use the infrastructure? The carriers could pay some sort of rent, or tax, and it could be used by multiple carriers. The FCC could hire a company to maintain the infrastructure, while developing new

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