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Verizon is working hard to stop new legislation changing the rules governing wireless practices

Lawmakers are closely looking at the practices of some of the largest wireless providers in America. Many small providers around the country have complained to lawmakers that they can’t compete because of the policies and practices that larger mobile service providers employ.

Earlier this week, Verizon sent a letter to lawmakers offering to limit the length of time it keeps handsets exclusively. Verizon offered to make exclusives last no longer than six months for providers with under a specific number of subscribers. The move is a preemptive strike by Verizon to try to win lawmakers over before legislation is introduced to change the way the wireless providers operate.

For the second time in a week, Verizon has sent a letter to lawmakers. This time Verizon is voluntarily offering to support a roaming rule change that would offer a solution to claims that the policies Verizon has on roaming puts small providers at a disadvantage.

Roaming agreements allow mobile phone users to access a network when they are outside an area where the provider has infrastructure built. Today wireless providers are not required to offer roaming services to rivals.

Reuters was able to get a copy of the letter Verizon sent and reports that the wireless provider will support a new law requiring it to provide rivals with roaming services in areas where it is not currently obligated to do so. The letter also suggests a limit on wireless roaming services of two years except in special circumstances where the provider would be able to get an additional year of service.

The letter and the concern over roaming services stems in part from complaints by small wireless rivals like Leap Wireless who have complained about rules governing roaming.

Leap's Laurie Itkin told Reuters, "Verizon itself has relied on roaming agreements for over two decades as it built out its network and acquired competitors, but now has unilaterally decided that its remaining competitors are only entitled to roaming for two or three years."





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get out the guillotine
By invidious on 7/23/2009 10:18:03 AM , Rating: 5
If there is one industry that needs reform its wirelss telecom. There is no reason for each service provider to have overlapping coverage. They should just pool their resources and all use the same towers. Thats what they do for phone and tv. Why not wireless? As it is they share towers anyway but they charge eachother for it and in tern pass the cost on to the consumer and then some.

Its not like any cell phone company has revolutionary RF signal transmission, it has been a mature technology for decades, they are all the same. When they brag about their signal coverage on their commercials they are just talking about the amound of land area that their towers cover, not the quality of the signal. Certain towers may be worse than others, but any proper tower is as good as the next.

This is a rare instance where I would rather see the gov step in and regulate. Telecoms have been bleeding consumers dry sense their inception. And now that they got their hands on the internet they are getting even greedier.




RE: get out the guillotine
By TheSpaniard on 7/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: get out the guillotine
By theapparition on 7/23/2009 12:11:14 PM , Rating: 2
You are so far off base on your assertions that I just don't even know where to start.

quote:
Thats what they do for phone and tv. Why not wireless? As it is they share towers anyway but they charge eachother for it and in tern pass the cost on to the consumer and then some.

They most certainly do not use the same infrastructure. Cable lines are direct linked and I don't know of one instance in the country where people have the option of multiple services through the same cable. If you're lucky enough to have cable choices, changing services certainly requires them adding a new drop for your home.
Phone companies are a little different. The local POTS networks are owned by the "baby Bells". Any provider that you choose still has to pay the owner for the rent. Certainly not a pooled system.

Really, RF transmission is mature? Guess there's no need for 4G or LTE, better go tell them to discontinue innovation. Not to mention that there's two different technologies being use (CDMA and GSM).

The government has proven it can't regulate any industry with success, and couldn't be profitable if you paid it (oh wait, we already do). Why would you every want more govenment.


RE: get out the guillotine
By omnicronx on 7/23/2009 12:21:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If there is one industry that needs reform its wirelss telecom.
This about all I can agree with here. First off, I'm not too sure phone lines are shared everywhere, in the urban areas yes, but my guess is that if only one service provider is in the area, they are the ones who paid for the towers. TV is also not shared, most stations have their own towers and transmitters for the original signal, and they may use shared towers to extend the signal. So neither are really even comparable to cell phones.

Second if all cell phones companies shared the same towers, think of all the problems that would arise. First off, they would all have to deploy new technology all at the same time. Second, right now they use a different kind of signal, some GSM some CDMA.
quote:
Its not like any cell phone company has revolutionary RF signal transmission, it has been a mature technology for decades, they are all the same.
Third this statement is completely incorrect, they are not all the same. Otherwise I would still be pimping my 25lb analogue phone from the 80's, just because I am that cool.

Number one is the big problem, and there is no way this will ever happen. New standards come out every few years which require massive changes to infrastructure, your idea would slow down deployment, probably make service worse and cause confusion. I do think they should all be using the same standard, which LTE may fix as Sprint seems to be the only one not jumping on the bandwagon. LTE should effectively end the CDMA/GSM Wars.


RE: get out the guillotine
By FITCamaro on 7/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: get out the guillotine
By Suntan on 7/23/2009 1:13:09 PM , Rating: 2
I hate the way wireless operators run their business model.

That said, I do not want the government changing it.

I want all the douchebag customers that think it is so cool to get a "free" cell phone, just for becoming a customer to get their heads out of their backsides and start demanding that the companies offer their services in a more consumer friendly mannor. Price your service and your products seperately!

I suppose 2 yr contracts might have made sense at some point when the tech was just getting off the ground and companies wanted to be assured of a steady customer base before committing large capitol to build out the infrastructure, but the market is big enough now that your net customer base will not devate too much even if a lot of people leave from month to month.

-Suntan


RE: get out the guillotine
By TomZ on 7/23/2009 1:27:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I hate the way wireless operators run their business model. That said, I do not want the government changing it.
I agree - most of the government's "good intentions" end up running afoul of the law of unintended consequences.

Instead, I think the government should monitor the industry closely to make sure that it has healthy competition, that consumers are not being abused, and that existing laws/regulations are being followed. And if those conditions are being met, the agency does nothing. Otherwise, they can report to Congress their findings so that some action could be taken.


RE: get out the guillotine
By mcnabney on 7/23/2009 6:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
As a wireless employee I can tell you that we aren't really thrilled with the whole expectation of free devices. But you can't unring a bell. The high cost of wireless devices (and they really are expensive, all those proprietary wireless chips have significant licensing fees in addition to fabrication costs) was offset by higher service fees in order to compete. Not many customers want to pay $300 upfront for a moderate handset in order to save 5-10 a month. Think of it as a way of 'financing' the cost of the handset.


RE: get out the guillotine
By rudy on 7/23/2009 11:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well if the phone company even offered such a deal maybe people would like it. Try going into a phone company and buying a plan when you already have a phone. First they will hit you with a activation fee second they have no reduced rate for buying your own phone you have to use the same plans as everyone else. So in the end you get nothing for trying in fact I think most wireless carriers want to force you to use their phones cause they hope you will run up a bill buying their stupid ring tones and using their junk software. With all that I find it ironic you seem to think that customers are the cause of this. If the customer even had a choice you might be right but we dont.

So since you offer me not one incentive at all to buy my phone outright why would I, I will just take the free one and sign your stupid contract.

I think when you say not thrilled you mean they would rather be making me pay for the phone and activation fee and they same rate and still need a 2 year contract.

I would gladly switch over to a system where I just paid per month and could take my phone to any provider, if all it meant was I had to buy my phone at full price.


RE: get out the guillotine
By jhb116 on 7/23/2009 8:21:54 PM , Rating: 2
I have to disagree with you. The Wireless companies are the least of our concern when it comes down to business practices. This isn't to say they don't have some bad things going on behind the scenes, however, there is significant national and local competition between several major carriers which is good for customers. Anything the gov't does now would likely screw customers.

This flap is really about the Iphone exclusive deal with AT&T. People are pissed off they can't have an Iphone on their favorite carrier - probably including some high level politicians. Although I understand the position - the problem really comes in of where do you draw the line? If you limit exclusive deals for phones - then why not auto parts, why not computer parts ect ect. And there is some truth to the idea of small companies being able to sign deals and develop products they wouldn't otherwise be able to get the resources to develop.

Also If there is one industry that needs reform - I can think of several that need attention much more so than wireless carriers - 2 prime candidates would be the cable companies holding local monopolies and heath care providers.


By greylica on 7/23/2009 11:41:56 AM , Rating: 2
Costs appart, this implies that a person could possibly use any other mobile phone, and any other operator, in any area, then I could possibly buy any locked Iphone and get outside of AT&T chains....
May be I am wrong, but depending on the costs of the roaming service, who cares about AT&T and Apple agreement ?
Course, I am talking about the few fanatics for the Iphone, that will pay everything, but this will create an interesting point of view to the consumers, and those agreements will never be effective again.




By greylica on 7/23/2009 12:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
Excuse-me sir...
I tough CDMA and TDMA was dead years ago, we still have a few of those here in Brasil, and they are deading everyday...


By omnicronx on 7/23/2009 1:09:33 PM , Rating: 2
CMDA is still used in the US and Canada(and a few other places around the world) with around 500 million users worldwide. Pretty much anywhere else in the world is GSM.


By mcnabney on 7/23/2009 6:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
CDMA is generally more efficient and secure than GSM, but suffers in battery life. They are just different methods of carrying and partitioning voice signals. Ultimately VoIP over LTE will supplant them both.


Fvck Verizon
By superflex on 7/23/2009 2:27:32 PM , Rating: 1
While I agree with Suntan that I don't want to see more government intervention, I hope they get bitch slapped for their business practices.




RE: Fvck Verizon
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2009 3:48:46 PM , Rating: 2
Their business practices are the same as everyone else's. It'd be nice if they'd allow custom UIs straight from phone manufacturers, but I understand wanting a single unified interface so people know how to use all your phones.


Like a puppy...
By MozeeToby on 7/23/2009 10:41:40 AM , Rating: 2
Verizon is behaving almost exactly like my puppy. He'll be misbehaving, tearing around the house, and chewing anything he can get his teeth on. But as soon as he realizes I'm going to tie him up he's the best puppy in the world.

I can only hope the lawmakers turn a blind eye for a change. It looks like someone at the big cell companies forgot to send in their protection mon... I mean bribe... I mean lobbyists this year.




Why the time limit?
By Donovan on 7/23/2009 11:56:41 AM , Rating: 2
From the Reuter's article it would appear that the roaming in question is for customers using a rival network which owns bandwidth in the area but has not yet built their system. Presumably the time-limit proposed by Verizon would only apply to this new roaming requirement...the article isn't clear on that point and I can't find a copy of the actual letter.

It does seem reasonable to expect companies to deploy on the bandwidth they have licensed in a timely manner, but that is a problem for the FCC and I don't see the harm to Verizon if they don't. At the prices they charge for roaming they should be making a nice profit, so the only reason to complain is to make it harder for new companies to enter the market.




This is pointless and retarded
By Topweasel on 7/23/2009 12:07:39 PM , Rating: 2
The idea that there shouldn't be overlapping coverage is horrible. Last thing I need Verizon to know is that I can only use their service. Or have one company own all of the Towers in an area and charge Verizon a fortune which gets passed on to me.

The idea that with as much competition as there is already that any company should be forced to provide services to start up companies is a poor idea. if Leap Wireless wants Roaming on Verizon, then they should make them an offer they can't refuse or find another partner that is willing to sell. I can imagine as bandwidth usage sky rockets the last thing they need to worry about is the bandwidth pressure a start up like Leap wireless puts on local infrastructure.

I will agree that I am not a big fan of exclusive deals on handsets. It turns two markets where we should have competition in the form of consumer choice, to one industry where a consumer chooses and another where the only value is on the competition and pay-offs another company receives. Specially since most phones have subsidies through contract agreements, we never as a consumer see the benefit of the money transfer between At&t and Apple or Sprint and Palm.




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