Should the US government impose wireless fee limits like the EU?

Should the US government impose wireless fee limits like the EU?

Summary: Zack forwarded me a link to a rather interesting BBC News item on how the EU is setting caps on text messaging, data roaming, and voice calls. As a US wireless carrier subscriber I was a bit surprised to read that government officials are able to set maximum limits wireless carriers in the European Union can charge their subscribers for services. While these are limits, I imagine that carriers will try to secure subscribers by seeing who can get the furthest under this cap while still being profitable.

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Zack forwarded me a link to a rather interesting BBC News item on how the EU is setting revised caps on text messaging, data roaming, and voice calls while roaming between countries in the EU (this is an added clarification from a reader). As a US wireless carrier subscriber I was a bit surprised to read that government officials are able to set maximum limits wireless carriers in the European Union can charge their subscribers for services. While these are limits, I imagine that carriers will try to secure subscribers by seeing who can get the furthest under this cap while still being profitable.

The cap for a text message falls from about 29 Euro cents on average to 11 Euro cents (14 US cents). The cap for outgoing voice calls falls from 46 to 43 Euro cents per minute while the incoming voice calls cap falls from 22 to 19 Euro cents in July 2009 with a drop to 11 Euro cents by July 2011. The data cap will be set at 1 Euro per megabyte. There are also new caps for data services when traveling abroad as the EU hopes to protect sticker shock from traveling subscribers.

While the caps may appear to be unfair to companies (some would argue that carriers are unfair to subscribers), it may be balanced out by an increase in subscribers or usage with lower unit costs. In the article, it was stated that voice call traffic jumped 30 to 35% after the EU cut the roaming charges by 50-60%.

Since this also applies only to roaming between EU countries there is not as large of a contingent of people that this affects. It is quite helpful for those who do travel between countries in the EU though and does protect them from significant bills upon returning home.

Here in the US the government does not get involved in what wireless carriers charges customers and let's the free market control the fees. It seems to be working as carriers like Sprint have highly competitive unlimited everything plans (voice, data, and text messages) starting at $99/month. While per text message fees are a bit ridiculous from all carriers, the unlimted text messaging plans are quite reasonable, IMHO. I heard something before about other countries charging different fees for calls whether they are incoming or outgoing, but here in the US the per minute call fee is the same for both if you exceed your allotted plan minutes.

While I may not always agree with the policies and like the fees that US wireless carriers charge me each month (I have AT&T and T-Mobile accounts), overall I am pleased with the services that I receive and am quite happy with the unlimited data and text messaging support that I enjoy.

Topics: Collaboration, Government, Government UK, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Telcos, Wi-Fi

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16 comments
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  • Clarification

    I believe that these price caps apply specifically and only to "roaming" charges, i.e. between countries in the EU.

    The EU can and is doing this because one of its goals is a "common market", and the telecos have resisted encouragement to resolve this themselves. It was (is?) possible that a subscriber to one telco would travel abroad, yet using the same telco's network there, would get charged significantly more for do so.

    I'm pretty sure it didn't help that the EuroMPs voting on this spend time in their home countries, Strasbourg, and Brussels, and got sick of running up huge bills ;-)

    TheTruthisOutThere@...
  • RE: Should the US government impose wireless fee limits like the EU?

    No the government shouldn't set fee limits. It's
    supposed to be a capitalist, free market.
    Government has already started limiting
    pay/profits of some companies, that's socialism
    (borderline communism) for those that haven't
    studied history in a while. The "good intentions"
    always turn out the same, everywhere and every
    time they are tried.
    endorphine44
    • Bollocks!

      Operators in the EU were charging significantly higher roaming rates than they did for local calls, and significantly above their own costs. They were not entering into any competition to reduce prices, and the EU warned that if they continued in this fashion, they would take action. They didn't address the situation, so the EU did.

      Note that this applies to ROAMING charges, and there is not significant competitive pressure here - most people are only abroad a few days a year, and the telcos were not being overly transparent in highlight these tariffs.

      This is clearly a win for consumers in the EU.
      TheTruthisOutThere@...
    • Cartel and price fixing

      That is the reality. North America (Especialy Canada and (to a lesser extend the US) is the most expensive place in the world use a cel phone.

      Cel phone service provider are abusing the market. It is time for the goverment(s) to step in and STOP crook. But it seen how it work here, the companies will just toss in a little bribe and nothing will be done (just like the MPAA, a extremly dangerous criminal organision, can still operate in the opne)
      Mectron
      • Price fixing for certain...

        It's easy to tell all of the carriers are fixing costs of voice and data artificially high. Just look at services like Cricket. They buy bandwidth from the major carriers in bulk and are STILL able to offer unlimited voice and data for HALF what the major carriers charge. How could they do that if the carriers weren't virtually raping individual customers on our charges?

        Every story I hear of some poor parent getting a $5000 cell phone bill because their child was texting for hours straight with their "BFF" makes me think we need to do something drastic to limit the evil pricing policies of these carriers. Caps make a lot of sense when the industry is so obviously colluding in the fleecing of Americans. We put caps on a lot of other industries for the good of the populace. We should consider it for these guys, too.
        BillDem
  • Here is what they should do

    Make it an 'all you can eat' charge for texting, data, etc.

    That is really what they should do, which I support after seeing that article about the 13 year old who managed to text 4K worth of text messages! There was NO reason why her phone should have even been ABLE to text message if it wasn't part of her plan, unless someone went online and activated it!

    That is what MY PARENT'S cell phone service does: it turns off the texting unless you have actively asked for it in the store or online, and pops up a message saying "We are sorry... text messaging is not activated for this phone. Please activate online or in store! Thank you!"
    Lerianis
    • Another of the EU's requirements...

      Another of the EU's requirements is that every customer is easily able to specify a maximum "roaming" bill (with at least an option of specifying less that ?50). This way, it will be impossible for any customer to run up a roaming charge more than an amount they specify.




      TheTruthisOutThere@...
  • Unlimited?????

    The majors in the U.S. (ATT and Verizon) have done away with the "all you can eat plans" with their 5Gig/Month limits.
    The so called "competition" pressure in the U.S. is a figment of some marketeer's imagination.
    IT DOESN'T WORK.

    EU style consumer protection is portrayed as sooo un-American.
    kd5auq
  • If it's not worth it, don't buy it

    Believe it or not, the price of cell minutes, texting, and data transfer has gone down drastically over the years for the simple fact that if the consumer thinks its not worth it, then the consumer won't buy it. In the late 90s, I barely made calls on my cell due to the cost. Now I can go crazy on the cell and text just about anywhere in America for $40/month.

    No government regulation needed. If a cell carrier wants to go bankrupt, then they could overcharge for these services if they want. If they want to make more money, then they need to come up with ways to give more value to the average consumer :)
    MrAlan
  • RE: Should the US government impose wireless fee limits like the EU?

    What the government should do is butt the hell out.
    iouzero
  • RE: Should the US government impose wireless fee limits like the EU?

    Of course not. Getting fleeced by companies is part of 'not reading the conditions of contract'; caveat emptor.
    muzza2005
  • Leave it alone

    We don't need yet more government regulations that will cause more hardships to consumers. Let the EU do what they want.

    We don't need to copy their failed societies and failed economic policies. Spain has 19% unemployment and Italy has 24%. I am sure I can pull up the other nation's figures and they would not be good. We are not far behind now.

    Too many people are following biased reporting from MSNBC, the communist news network, ABC, etc. They don't even hide the fact that they are liberal. Speaking of MSNBC, they are owned by GE and they are pushing for cap and trade because they want the lucrative government contracts. they told their staff not to make negative reports on Obama's economic policies. Nice journalistic integrity !
    pizzaman7
    • Hardships?

      *We don't need yet more government regulations
      that will cause more hardships to consumers.
      Let the EU do what they want.*

      Yes, limiting the amount of money a company can
      charge the consumer will hurt the consumer.
      Because they'll have more money, it will
      literally BURN THEM. We can thanks the
      companies for relieving us of such a hurtful
      thing. Oh, and in case you couldn't tell, that
      was sarcasm.

      *We don't need to copy their failed societies
      and failed economic policies. Spain has 19%
      unemployment and Italy has 24%. I am sure I can
      pull up the other nation's figures and they
      would not be good. We are not far behind now.*

      And we're not doing much better. The UK is at
      6.7% and France is at 7.5%. They're both in the
      EU. We're currently hovering at around 8.6%.
      Our policies are doing so well, though.
      Michael Alan Goff
  • RE: Should the US government impose wireless fee limits like the EU?

    My advice is don't do ANYTHING like the EU! The US government has it's hands in enough of the public's money. Don't be greedy like the EU.
    whtsupnw@...
  • RE: Should the US government impose wireless fee limits like the EU?

    I am not sure why the question even comes up. Who in the government even thinks about these things that will cause more expense to the consumer? Who? Why? They would be better to find better bargains for the consumer. Get some names to these ideas so we, the concerned consumer, can focus on the solution. Our government should be on the side of the consumer, because it seems like no one else is.
    Gpa's
  • RE: Should the US government impose wireless fee limits like the EU?

    Boostmobile has a $50.00 everything plan.
    http://plans.boostmobile.com/monthlyunlimited.aspx
    salcacc@...