Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

SoylentNews is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop. Only 16 submissions in the queue.
posted by mattie_p on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the just-stay-home dept.

girlwhowaspluggedout writes:

"The European Commission reports that, fearing high roaming charges, many EU citizens forgo the use of their mobile phones outside their home country. According to a survey done by the Commission (pdf), when travelling to another EU country, 90% of all EU citizens limit their e-mail use, 47% do not use their mobile internet connection, 33% never place calls, 25% do not text, and a staggering 28% simply turn off their mobile phones.

Roaming charges, the Commission suggests, are hurting the fledgling EU app sector. In trying to avoid paying data premiums, travelers limit their use of data-heavy apps, like travel guides, maps, and photo applications. Frequent travelers are even more likely to turn-off their phones, perhaps due to being better informed about the costs of data roaming.

The Commission reports that data roaming use across the EU has increased by 1500% since the introduction of price caps in 2008. It suggests that by eliminating all roaming charges, mobile providers will gain a further 300 million customers. These findings give further support to regulations proposed by the Commission that will create a single mobile phone market throughout the EU, enabling all customers to enjoy domestic rates when travelling within the EU."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by TrumpetPower! on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:52AM

    by TrumpetPower! (590) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:52AM (#2076) Homepage

    One thing I haven't understood for a while. It seems to me that it should have been the case for quite a while that there's very little marginal costs for things like roaming. Sure, maybe there were some initial headaches related to routing and billing and the like, but that should have been solved decades ago. And, just as with Internet peering, it should be in the carrier's mutual interests to work out easy ways to hand traffic off to each other in as transparent a manner as possible with as little bookkeeping as possible.

    Am I naïve, or are roaming charges just a short-sighted excuse to bleed customers dry?

    If the latter, I'd think that the first company to offer free roaming would steal significant numbers of customers away from the competition, which, again, just adds to the mystery....

    Cheers,

    b&

    --
    All but God can prove this sentence true.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by WildWombat on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:05AM

      by WildWombat (1428) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:05AM (#2082)

      If you look at how needlessly high roaming charges generally are I don't think its a mystery, just more of our corporate overlords fucking us as hard as they can.

      As to why none of them offer free roaming in order to steal customers I don't think it would really work out for them, financially. Say they 'break truce' first and offer free roaming and start to steal customers. To start, they lose a significant amount of revenue from the lost roaming fees. Then, if they start to gain customers in large numbers, other carriers will join and that wave of new customers isn't going to last long. The question is is the permanent loss of the roaming fee revenue worth the number of customers you gain before the competing carriers match your offer? If not, keep the status quo. Unless you're a new entrant, which we see so many of because the barriers to entry in that market are so low....

      I'd imagine some of the main carriers in the places where your customers might roam would also be hostile to reasonable roaming charges, I bet they get a pretty good cut of that, too, without any incentive at all to give it up.

      Cheers,
      WW

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by TrumpetPower! on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:12AM

        by TrumpetPower! (590) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:12AM (#2086) Homepage

        Then what we -- or, rather, the industry -- needs to get out of this mess is somebody who knows game theory.

        It'd also be nice if there was some way, short of legislation, for "consumers" (a most hateful word) to band together to throw their own weight around. A consumers union, if you will, but more effective than the one run by Consumer Reports.

        b&

        --
        All but God can prove this sentence true.
      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by GungnirSniper on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:16AM

        by GungnirSniper (1671) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:16AM (#2089) Journal

        So is this a regulatory failure, since competitors won't occur with the current rules?

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:07AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:07AM (#2161)
          http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/05/knowroaming-sim -stickers/ [engadget.com]
          Though their rates are still high the technology is interesting.
          • (Score: 1) by quitte on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:39PM

            by quitte (306) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @11:39PM (#2975) Journal

            This looks like a scam to me. How does a sticker on a SIM card detect the country it's in? How does it change the cost of roaming? I guess all it is is a 35$ sticker that doesn't change your roaming fees at all.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by mojo chan on Wednesday February 19 2014, @08:39AM

          by mojo chan (266) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @08:39AM (#2245)

          There is competition but they all collude to rip us off. Each charges the others high roaming fees, which are passed on to the customers. If one drops their fees it won't help their own customers, it just lets the competition make more profit on the call since the price to the consumer is fixed.

          One of the best aspects of the EU is the way they come down hard on this kind of bullshit. Consumer protections are strong here.

          --
          const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:08AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:08AM (#2305)

            And yet the article is about high roaming charges that EU citizens face.

            • (Score: 3, Informative) by mindriot on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:28PM

              by mindriot (928) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:28PM (#2372)

              Well, let's put that into perspective a bit.

              I'm German but currently in the UK. My rates:

              • 0.2856 EUR/min for outgoing calls within the EU
              • 0.0833 EUR/min for incoming calls
              • 0.0952 EUR per text message

              For a quick comparison, AT&T [att.com] charges 0.38 USD/min for both outgoing and incoming calls in Mexico and Canada, that's roughly 0.28 EUR/min. And that's only if you've put out 30 USD/month for their special plan -- otherwise it's 1.00 USD/min! And for Europe, we're talking 1.00 USD/min using the Travel Minutes package -- and 1.50 USD/min without.

              So, the rates for EU citizens within the EU are already quite decent. But the main problem is, we are abroad a lot more than Americans. Imagine you had to pay those international roaming rates in every US state other than your home state. That's why the EU is trying to bring down the roaming charges even more.

              --
              soylent_uid=$(echo $slash_uid|cut -c1,3,5)
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:02AM

        by frojack (1554) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:02AM (#2137) Journal

        Well, the permanent loss of roaming revenue is far more likely to affect EU carriers than say North American carriers.

        After all, in the EU people cross borders all the time, on a whim. Everything is so close there. But unless you live on the Canadian or Mexican boarder you seldom cross boarders in North America.

        You would think that North American carriers could drop roaming continent wide and not lose much revenue at all.

        But before that happens, the amount that Bell Canada has to pay to get AT&T to handle a call in the US has to get down to something reasonable, such as the same amount AT&T demands of T-Mobile to handle a roaming AT&T customer's call.

        This is the origin of these silly charges, actual costs imposed by the other carriers in a pointless attempt to get customers to switch to avoid roaming.

        Now that these charges are largely eliminated between US carriers, at least for most plans, the US, Canadian, and Mexican carriers could allow roaming for free and save themselves the whole problem.

        What we have is largely an Historical anachronism, which yields neither side much of a revenue stream.

        The problem in Europe is exacerbated by the sheer number of carriers and the frequency of roaming opportunities.

        Maybe when all carriers stop counting minutes, and give unlimited calling the whole problem will be too cheap to bother billing at all.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by edIII on Wednesday February 19 2014, @08:12AM

          by edIII (791) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @08:12AM (#2227)

          I don't think it's a pointless attempt based on greed. It's simply a matter of who is paying for the bandwidth, and voice is still just bandwidth now at the end of the day. Even more so with new technologies like LTE.

          Unlimited calling just shifts the game to roaming charges on data. They also have to make data flat rate regardless of location in order for that work.

          What you may be ignoring is that once everything turns to data, a carrier giving away bandwidth to roaming customers must still pay their peering and transit costs. That roaming customer needs to be charged somehow to recoup those fees. They must pass that cost back on to the original carrier in the form of additional peering and transit costs.

          I remember something about a book recently where the author discussed tactics to force carriers into free peering and transit agreements. Only reason why I bring it up, is that is where the real game with the money is being played.

          It may not be presented as roaming charges, but it will still count toward your data plan. Smart carriers will enter into agreements that inspect the average roaming traffic on their network and then price their bandwidth packages accordingly.

          --
          Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
          • (Score: 1) by frojack on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:56AM

            by frojack (1554) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:56AM (#3062) Journal

            True the currently serving carrier has to bill something back to the carrier of record.

            In actuality, all they bill is the Net(difference) between what A carried for B and what what B carried for A.

            And that's fine. But I'm roaming on A, my home carrier, B, is not still getting paid by me, but not providing any service to me. The costs I impose on my home carrier drop to zero. (Doesn't matter if we are talking Voice Minuets or Data packets.)

            So its not like its additional money out of my carriers's pocket, its money he was already collecting from me. He keeps his skim, sends the rest to the carrier on which I am roaming.

            It shouldn't cost me (the end user) ANYTHING more.

            (The sooner we get to it all being data packets the better. Makes the accounting so much easier.)

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
            • (Score: 1) by edIII on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:13AM

              by edIII (791) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:13AM (#3072)

              It can technically cost you more, and that all depends on the network size and makeup at any one moment. You just won't see it plainly on the bill.

              Consider a tourist city on the coast of France. If they're are 25% roaming customers at any one moment, that's a pretty big hit to the carrier. They will pass those costs back off to you in one form or another. Otherwise they need to accept being less profitable, and that's unlikely.

              So you do pay more, but it's in the form of a "tax" and not associated with your activity. Cities that are like this with high percentages of roaming customers will be more expensive.

              Of course, it's more than likely national or multinational with large carriers, and those could decide to recoup the expense against all customers.

              It does make it difficult to have locally owned cellular networks though. In such areas they have no choice but to raise the price if they find that many non-paying customers attaching to the network.

              That brings up my final point. In order for their to be a net zero change the number of roaming customers on your network, and the number of your customers roaming on other networks, must be equal.

              There are good examples where this is not true.

              --
              Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
              • (Score: 1) by frojack on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:41AM

                by frojack (1554) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:41AM (#3088) Journal

                Yes, I see how those charges must be passed back to the user's originating carrier.

                But, there seems to be no reason why these should be that much higher. Maybe marginally higher to cover transactional costs, but realistically, that is all done by computer these days.

                The roaming doesn't have to balance. There is always going to be imbalance, and charges from one carrier to the other. And locally owned carriers make BANK off of travelers roaming onto their network. Especially in resort towns.

                The point I was trying to make, is that there will always be charges among carriers to pay for roaming.

                But that should not affect the customer much, if at all. I'm not being a drain on my local carrier when I roam onto another carrier's tower. So ALL THE MONEY that I paid my carrier for that time is a windfall to my carrier. If they can then charge me EXTRA for roaming (instead of coughing up what I already paid to them), its sort of unfair to the end user.

                Not saying there should be Zero Inter-Carrier money transfers. Just saying It should not affect the end-user to the extent it typically does.

                --
                No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
                • (Score: 1) by edIII on Friday February 21 2014, @08:55PM

                  by edIII (791) on Friday February 21 2014, @08:55PM (#4535)

                  The roaming doesn't have to balance. There is always going to be imbalance, and charges from one carrier to the other. And locally owned carriers make BANK off of travelers roaming onto their network. Especially in resort towns.

                  The roaming does have to balance to have a net zero change for both carriers. Otherwise, they do have to pass on the cost. Typically in peering and transit you pay for that difference. It might be carrier A paying one day, and carrier B paying the next.

                  Locally owned carriers only make bank right now precisely because of unreasonable roaming costs. Those were created by unreasonable monetization plans from greedy execs that can't figure out that *always* going for the money does not *always* translate into the best business decision long term. Typically, over time those businesses get their asses handed to them, or if they are well enough connected, they bribe governments to forcefully assist them with their business models.

                  However, if we move to a deal with no roaming charges, and we move toward flat data, you simply must have peering and transit costs. Those are further complicated by the fact that not all network devices attached to the network are paying customers. So it's peering and transit, but also peering and transit for guest access as well. That's not normal, and you only see that with cellular. Traditional data networks have *all* access to their POPs paid for at the local rate. That can vary widely from network to network. I've seen datacenters in one city be 30% of the bandwidth costs or another city a few hundred miles away.

                  Locally owned carriers in resort towns are going to have major issues when they can't even bill the originating network for the traffic. They have to be able to at least bill it at the same rate they bill their customers. If they have a small user base, they are at an even bigger disadvantage in distributing the costs out to everyone equally. The point of that being you don't notice it all that much

                  That rate, will vary from resort town to resort town, and be substantially different than a city or rural area.A super huge carrier can just 'smooth' over those usage bumps and not care about it. You won't notice a thing probably. Pennies, if that.

                  The EU isn't like that though is it? From what I understand tourism is just ridiculous in some parts. There will be carrier networks in those places affected by large scale unpaid for usage. Spain was the top in 2012 with 234.4 million nights (which is days) spent by tourists. That's a metric crap load of bandwidth not paid for, that needs to be distributed out among the remaining paying population.

                  In situations like that, yes, you are going to see higher rates. I think it's unavoidable, but it can be significantly less than roaming costs. Probably 80% off at least if you only bill it to other carriers at just your standard wholesale rate determined by network traffic analysis and pricing.

                  What you want must be viewed as only data, part of peering and transit, and must have detailed analysis of all the network traffic and associated revenue. Only then can the costs come down to anywhere near reasonable. Which it means it comes down to execs being reasonable and not greedy, which does nothing for the almighty shareholder (citizen 1st class supreme).

                  I wish I could remember that damn book! It went into quite a bit of detail in the strategies for peering and transit networks. It's very disruptive, and pretty oool.

                  TL;DR It's like herding cats. Don't hold your breath waiting for it.

                  --
                  Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
                  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:33AM

                    by frojack (1554) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:33AM (#4684) Journal

                    I'm pretty sure we are plowing old ground here.

                    Lets not talks about roaming payments from one carrier to another for roaming, Ok?
                    We both know its happening, and has to continue.

                    However that does not mean the USER should have to pay these.

                    When I roam off of AT&T, (say to T-Mobile) I impose no burden on AT&T. I use no bandwidth, I use no minutes, I use no connections to their towers. I COST AT&T nothing.

                    Yet I pay them the same.

                    So that percentage of my bill, for the time that I am off of AT&T and roaming onto T-Mobile, should just be transferred by AT&T to T-Mobile.

                    Now don't tell me this can't happen, or that it can't be that simple. It can happen, and I am on such a plan. I have a nation wide business plan right now from AT&T which is just pennies more than a paid roaming plan. Not enough more to cover even a few roaming calls. I can and have spent a week on T-Mobile and Bell South towers, taking and making calls with zero difference in my bill.

                    --
                    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by everdred on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:02AM

        by everdred (110) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:02AM (#2159) Journal

        > ...none of them offer free roaming in order to steal customers...

        Wait, isn't this precisely what T-Mobile is doing now [t-mobile.com]?

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by janrinok on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:53PM

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:53PM (#2489) Journal

        One of the reason that it might have occurred is not applicable to huge countries like the USA. However, where there are numerous smaller countries with significant price differentials in telecom services, having low roaming charges would encourage people to buy their phone in country A only to always use it in country B in order take advantage of the savings to be made. Having high roaming charges prevents this.

        However, in the EU there are meant to be no barriers to such trade - all countries and companies in those countries compete against each other. The EU believes that roaming charges shouldn't be imposed simply as a method of market protection. If your running costs as a company are high they should be spread fairly amongst all those who use your infrastructure and not penalise those who are not your primary customer. People living in border areas are often hit with high prices simply because the strongest signal comes from a tower in a neighbouring country. Yes, it is possible to block this as a user but many only know how to turn it on and make a call. It stays switched on for most of its lifetime.

        --
        I am not interested in who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
      • (Score: 1) by ArmoredDragon on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:20AM

        by ArmoredDragon (1132) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:20AM (#3074)

        Seems rather strange to me. With T-Mobile I can roam to AT&T, or even travel abroad to Canada or Europe not see any roaming charges so long as I only use data (easy fix: Skype.) I pay $23 per month per phone on a 5 line family plan on t-mobile. Data is only limited to 500mb of LTE data, after that it goes to Edge which isn't so bad (in spite of being very tech savvy, I'm not a heavy data user at all, except on my home broadband connection.)

        I never see an overage though; my bill never changes from $114.65 a month. I can call anywhere to the US/Canada, third party premium texts are blocked, and international calling is blocked (both deliberately and I can unblock them at any time if I want to.)

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mcgrew on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:09AM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:09AM (#2084) Homepage Journal

      Simple: corporate greed. They can so they do. After hearing over and over how much cheaper and better cell phone service is everywhere than here, this makes me feel good. I have no roaming charges, data caps, or minutes to buy, unlimited everything for forty bucks a month. I've been with them for years.

      Which underscores your question: why do we let our corporate overlords rip us off like that?

      --
      mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Nobuddy on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:12AM

      by Nobuddy (1626) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:12AM (#2087)

      AFIAK it is a matter of ripping each other off. It is hard for Provider X to give free roaming if providers Y and Z charge them for their customers using their networks. And vice versa, giving free roaming to their customers means your competition makes a larger profit from your actions because we all know they will charge those customers anyway.

      I am from the USA, and when I travel in the EU I tend to carry several SIM cards and pop in the one that fits my current location. This is, sadly, the most cost effective way to do it.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Gorath99 on Wednesday February 19 2014, @09:51AM

      by Gorath99 (1249) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @09:51AM (#2289)

      I've been told that it's also a problem of competing interests between EU members. It's effectively a redistribution of wealth from the countries with comparatively little tourism to the countries with a lot of tourism. So countries like Spain and Italy are in favor of high roaming costs whereas countries like Denmark and The Netherlands are opposed.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by combatserver on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:08AM

    by combatserver (38) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:08AM (#2083)

    For it's worth, my family has two cellphones:

    Phone #1)

    Old, basic-function Samsung that I keep in the "Emergency" compartment in my van--SIM card and battery(dead) are taped to the side along with a 12v power cable (all wrapped in tinfoil to protect them from "damage"). There is no service-provider account associated with this phone, so it's almost useless--it's sole purpose is for the occasional emergency on the highway. Simply pop the SIM card/battery back in, plug it into the dash power-supply and call 911--EVERY phone can be used to call 911, even ones that have no service-provider.

    Phone #2)

    Bare-bones, basic service TracPhone (minutes purchased with cash when needed(minute cards)). This phone is usually carried by my wife, but changes hands based on our activities--you never know who you're going to get when you call that phone. If the daughter is going anywhere for any great length of time, she gets the phone.

    We pay about $5-$10 bucks a month.

    --
    I hope I can change this later...
    • (Score: 1) by mcgrew on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:16AM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:16AM (#2088) Homepage Journal

      I live alone and have only one phone, an Android. $40 a month, but I get unlimited everything. No need for an old phone in the glove box, it's always in my pocket when I'm not using it. I can read books and newspapers on it, send and receive email and texts, use Google Maps...

      OTOH my cable bill is $0. Big waste of money, plenty of OTA TV and the picture is clearer than cable (and I have no use for BET, women's channels, sports, or any other cable crap). It would be nice to get CNN but hell, I can get that on my phone anywhere, any time. What are you paying for cable?

      --
      mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
      • (Score: 2) by combatserver on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:29AM

        by combatserver (38) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:29AM (#2098)

        "What are you paying for cable?"

        Dropped cable months ago--from my perspective, it's all shit anyway. Unfortunately, Comcast only knocks $10 off the bill if you get internet service with them. I will take that as a statement of their valuation of the cable service--roughly 15% of the total bill.

        --
        I hope I can change this later...
      • (Score: 1) by Maow on Wednesday February 19 2014, @06:07AM

        by Maow (8) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @06:07AM (#2176) Homepage

        an Android. $40 a month, but I get unlimited everything.

        Same here. Android smart phone, unlimited North America-wide talk, unlimited global SMS, "unlimited" internet (throttled after 5 GB/m), tethering allowed. Unsure about MMS fees. No contract.

        Wind Mobile -- no affiliation, just reasonably happy customer.

        I don't even use most of the services I'm paying for, but I just can't bear to let go of such a nice plan. And when the yearly problem with my cable modem occurs, tether computer to phone, re-connect / re-configure router so main computer is "WAN", and her laptop & phone get internet via tethered phone.

        Without such a plan, I'd be quite tempted to switch to PAYG or the cheapest possible plan and rarely use my phone.

        • (Score: 1) by mcgrew on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:01PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:01PM (#2608) Homepage Journal

          Well, mine can't possibly have a data cap because I stream KSHE at work every day all day long, but OTOH my TOS says I can't tether. If I could tether I'd get rid of my ISP.

          I'm on Boost, like you and your carrier I'm not affiliated, chose them for price but I've been with them for years and had no trouble with them at all, unlike my previous, expensive carrier (AT&T).

          --
          mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:16AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:16AM (#2090)

      Did you forget to regale us about how you also don't own a TV?

      • (Score: 1) by danomac on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:31AM

        by danomac (979) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:31AM (#2147)
        Seeing as speakers on new TVs suck ass I don't have a TV. I have a big monitor with a tuner.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by combatserver on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:10AM

          by combatserver (38) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:10AM (#2164)

          "I have a big monitor with a tuner."

          Regression turns out to be a good thing sometimes. I've been regressing in terms of consumer electronics--I am getting better quality without added cost, at the expense of what I think are relatively incremental increases afforded by newer technology.

          Example: My wife and I had been looking for a sturdy, American-made electric counter-top griddle--All we could find was cheap, imported, primarily-plastic griddles that cost $65-$125. One day my wife is walking past a coin & stamp shop that sells other items they get when they buy estate packages. In the window she saw a solid-aluminum, solid-state griddle from the early 50's. It has a rheostat, a cord and a heating element (cast inside the aluminum!) and four Bake-Lite legs. It works better than any other griddle I've ever used...and it cost $5. It looks cool, and is easily repaired if anything does fail. The company that made it (Du-Wal) doesn't seem to ever have existed, if you ask the Internet.

          As you mentioned, while some components might have shiny-new features, they often fail in an aspect that should have at least remained as good as before, but for some reason didn't--speaker quality in TVs, per your example. I myself have purchased a good-quality, solid-state tuner that will be my primary sound system once I locate the rest of the components (turn-table (records are cheap these days!), speakers, etc). Sure, I have a 35GB library of MP3/FLACs on my computer, but a decent portable MP3/FLAC player integrates nicely with the older hardware, giving me the best of both worlds.

          In addition to getting better quality, I feel much better about purchases that help keep stuff out of landfills.

          --
          I hope I can change this later...
          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:56PM

            by VLM (445) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:56PM (#2497)

            Not to turn this into the "soylent cooking show" (although that would probably be hilarious) but I am one of those "home chefs" who used to need to buy a non-stick frying pan annually or worse because I'd cook the hell out of it, almost every day. True, the $5 specials fall apart in a month, but from $25 to $250 there has unfortunately proven to be no value in paying more for a celebrity endorsed or expensively marketed non-stick pan, and the $25 pans are pretty much junk. So a couple years ago I said F-it and went old school cast iron. Works beautiful, cost like $15, once, lasts forever. Re-season every couple months. Free upper body workout (I can see why women, who typically have lower upper body strength than men, don't like CI).

            Also modern slow cookers are "legendary" for poor temp regulation, to the point of food sanitation danger.

            I've also noticed a decline in quality of flatware, and you can't buy 6 or 8 place settings anymore, its either the 4 pack (for the price of what used to be an 8 pack) or shipping crates of 72 for restaurant service, and not much in between. So, this stereotypical SS set of forks and spoons is twice the cost and half the size of the set I got in the 90s, and my 90s set looks professional but the modern sets look like a kids failed high school shop project, like China only sends the USA the QA/QC reject bin instead of the good stuff.

            I've also seen this with plates, you could use 1970s Corelle like frisbees but the modern stuff shatters easier. As a kid we only managed to break I believe two of my mom's plates despite being hyperactive baby monkeys on crack, but my own kids break about two dishes a year without even trying and I'm not sure how they're doing it. Maybe my food is more corrosive. Must stop using hydrofluoric acid to pickle cucumbers.

            I don't mind the eco hug a tree stuff, but I really just want a Fing frying pan that works, flatware that doesn't look like a failed shop class project, dinnerware that doesn't shatter for fun... The "free" market refuses to sell good stuff to me, so F them I'll buy good stuff that happens to be used.

      • (Score: -1, Redundant) by jonh on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:48AM

        by jonh (733) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:48AM (#2171) Homepage

        Did you forget to regale us about how you also don't own a TV?

        The Onion [theonion.com] has that covered...

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Popeidol on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:20AM

    by Popeidol (35) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:20AM (#2093) Journal

    The EU has had capped roaming prices - including data roaming - and has been steadily reducing those prices over a number of years. The proposed regulation linked to in the article is the final logical step in that plan. Here's a quick table of how they've changed over time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_roamin g_regulations#Prices [wikipedia.org]

    I'm assuming they've done it gradually so as to get carriers used to the idea. Now they're facing dramatically reduced income from roaming charges regardless, they have a lot less to lose and a lot to gain from a single EU-wide mobile market.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by brocksampson on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:02PM

      by brocksampson (1810) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:02PM (#2356)

      Before those caps roaming actually worked better with some carriers because you could roam on a pre-paid SIM. That way, you could charge it up before a trip and then be sure that you won't spend more than what you put on it. After the caps went into effect, carriers stopped allowing pre-paid SIMs to roam. Now every carrier has a different roaming policy, different billing, and different ways of activating roaming. It's infuriating. I can't wait for the whole concept to go away. It is just insane that the second I cross a border I have to be careful about loading a map, lest I wind up with EUR 60 added to my monthly bill... travelling is the one situation in which I actually need a map with GPS! (At least it's not as bad as traveling to the US, which apparently no longer has the concept of pre-paid SIMs with data service.)

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by elf on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:43PM

      by elf (64) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:43PM (#2430)

      By 2016 they are looking to remove the roaming charges altogether, you would just use the same tarrif in your home country at any country in the EU

      http://www.zdnet.com/europe-sets-2016-deadline-for -end-to-all-mobile-roaming-charges-7000020598/ [zdnet.com]

  • (Score: 2) by Darth Turbogeek on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:24AM

    by Darth Turbogeek (1073) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:24AM (#2095)

    I mean come on, the prices roaming is charged at is just bullshit. How the hell can anyone jsutify it? I'm also betting the true cost of roaming is.... umm.... about fuck all. Probably one of the best examples I can think of that a buisness reams the customer at basically pure profit.

    • (Score: 1) by lothmordor on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:52AM

      by lothmordor (1522) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:52AM (#2218)

      This type of business practise isn't anything new to the telcos, at least in the United States.
      Consider text messages. They cost basically nothing to send, yet the carriers generally charge around 5 to 25 cents per message.
      "That's why a message is so limited in length: it must not exceed the length of the message used for internal communication between tower and handset to set up a call. The channel uses space whether or not a text message is inserted."
      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/business/28digi. html [nytimes.com]

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by TheRaven on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:22AM

        by TheRaven (270) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:22AM (#2311) Journal
        While I agree that text messages are massively overpriced (something like £500/MB last time I did the calculations), it's somewhat disingenuous to only count the phone-to-tower bandwidth for approximating the cost. The message also needs to be routed to the final destination, which requires quite a bit of effort. Locating the receiving tower and forwarding the message requires the same amount of work as setting up a phone call (actually, a bit more because SMS can be stored and forwarded). That requires not just bandwidth, but processor load at each of the switches as a lot of short-lived connections complicate routing.
        --
        sudo mod me up
        • (Score: 1) by Darth Turbogeek on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:46AM

          by Darth Turbogeek (1073) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:46AM (#2320)

          Most (if not all) are costs long sunk or depreciated off the book and the equipment is what you would need to run your netork anyway. It's really not in any way shape or form either a money issue or a sheer grunt issue - or even a technical one. Plus short lived connections? That's what a cell network does, if it cant handle onee roamer then some technial officer needs to go on the unemployment queue

          The actual cost per call would be now extremely low. I can accept when mobiles were first A Thing that the costs were there and also considerable per connection but this has long ceased to be the case. Let me put it this way - I roamed from where I usually reside to England and the data cost with Vodapone was incredible. In Finland hte cost was so, so SO much lower. England? I got bitten for 4500, the per MB rate was just astronomical.

          Telcos were not able to justify the charges 7 years ago, they certainly cant now, the cost per MB would be at best a few cents.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Appalbarry on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:20AM

    by Appalbarry (66) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:20AM (#2117) Journal

    I'm in Canada, and am still staggered at the wholesale robbery that the big three cel companies are allowed to foist on people. The wonders of unregulated commerce....

    Certainly it's absurd to demand $25 for an increase of a gig or two on my data cap, but the one that really frosts my cake is the $8 a month extra charge for voicemail - as if that's some strange and exotic thing that no-one really would want.

    What other industry works so hard to discourage people from buying and using their products?

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:35AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:35AM (#2124) Journal

      What other industry works so hard to discourage people from buying and using their products?

      Ummm... the content (movie/music/ebooks) industry?
      The software industry [smh.com.au]?

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
      • (Score: 1) by chromas on Wednesday February 19 2014, @08:25AM

        by chromas (34) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 19 2014, @08:25AM (#2236) Journal

        If you think about it, it actually make sense for software. MS and Adobe want people to pirate their software and get hooked on it so their boss will buy it later or something (so saith the Internet). And what's the best way to get them to pirate?

        ⬆ Flawless logic

    • (Score: 1) by tftp on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:44AM

      by tftp (806) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @03:44AM (#2131) Homepage

      Certainly it's absurd to demand $25 for an increase of a gig or two on my data cap

      I have no data plan, since my cell phone is only used for maybe 3 minutes per month, for an occasional call when I am away from computers. (I rarely can be found in that situation.) AT&T insists that every smartphone has to have a data plan, so I refuse to buy a smartphone - even though I could use it with 802.11 networks which are all around me.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by kwerle on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:33AM

        by kwerle (746) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:33AM (#2149) Homepage

        Can't you just buy an unlocked smartphone and drop a sim card in that has no data plan? Won't that work?

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by tftp on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:05AM

          by tftp (806) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:05AM (#2160) Homepage

          No, it will not work. Had been tried by several people. As soon as AT&T sees the IMEI number [wikipedia.org] that resolves to a smartphone model, they automatically add the data plan, and charge you for that - and good luck cancelling that.

          In fact, AT&T even sells simple phones that are marked as "no data plan required." Everything else requires the data plan. That's why I'm on a third Li-Ion battery for my old flip phone.

          • (Score: 1) by furiousoyster on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:01PM

            by furiousoyster (594) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @05:01PM (#2607)

            Yeah, this really drives me up the wall. Sprint's dumb-phones are either poorly built, poorly designed, or both. I'm stuck with a Samsung m400 that's mostly fine but has a button on the side that, when pressed for a couple seconds, activates the voice command system. It can't be disabled. I regularly find myself in embarrassing situations when the voice in my pocket yells "SAY A COMMAND!"

            I'd gladly pay more for a smartphone, but not an extra $360/year for data I don't want.

            • (Score: 1) by tftp on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:14AM

              by tftp (806) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:14AM (#2993) Homepage

              I escaped Sprint in 2008, when I got another job and their phone couldn't work indoors. AT&T phones, and Verizon phones, worked OK. There was no contract, so I just jumped the ship. I got the LG CU515 at that time, and I still have it, 6 years later.

              You are not alone in your troubles with the side button. My phone also has such a button, but for added advantage to AT&T it is preset to incur charges. If I press it, accidentally, it says "Press 1 to activate Push-to-Talk service." I cannot imagine why I would need it - and it's not a free service either. I seriously considered pouring glue into the gap around that button. (The only other function of that button is to silence the alarm, but I can use other buttons for that.)

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by crutchy on Wednesday February 19 2014, @09:00AM

      by crutchy (179) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @09:00AM (#2263) Homepage Journal

      The wonders of unregulated commerce.

      you'll probably find that it's actually a huge amount of regulation that supports the existing monopolies that no doubt pay huge political campaign contributions to maintain the status quo.
      remove monopoly-supporting regulations and you get competative startups (including from other countries)... not so good for monopolies.
      the problem is that politicians wield too much power over markets... and they sell that power to the highest bidder. take away power from the politicians and they have nothing to sell, so the lobbyists lose their jobs and companies have to compete on a level playing field.

    • (Score: 1) by JediTrainer on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:24PM

      by JediTrainer (1431) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @02:24PM (#2473)

      Certainly it's absurd to demand $25 for an increase of a gig or two on my data cap, but the one that really frosts my cake is the $8 a month extra charge for voicemail - as if that's some strange and exotic thing that no-one really would want.

      Even more for Visual Voicemail. Or for Caller ID! WTF!

      From one Canadian to another let me give you a tip if you travel to visit our US friends reasonably often and are sick of roaming charges and the Canadian telcos' BS travel plans. Get your phone unlocked and while you're down there drop by a T-Mobile store, get a sim card and sign up for the $2 pay by the day [t-mobile.com] plan. Unlimited calling within the US, and unlimited 2G data, which is sufficient for maps and the odd search for a phone number (yes I know. Go for the $3/day if you want 3G). I find that to be a far higher value than paying $1.50/min+ for a local call.

      While you're at it sign up for Google Voice against that number, and now you can call family in Canada by initiating it through the GV site.

      The account expires after 90 days of inactivity. I put $10 in every 2 months (the minimum deposit), which essentially gives me all the calling I need whenever I'm down there.

    • (Score: 1) by kbahey on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:38PM

      by kbahey (1147) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:38PM (#2580) Homepage

      I am in Canada as well, and the whole North American market is screwed up monopolistic. First, there was the CDMA thing, and handsets not having a GSM card. Then it was GSM phones locked to the carrier to hinder customers from changing carriers.

      There are also the contracts, which were 36 months, now down to 24 months, but they are a long term lock in.

      And, spectrum fragmentation [baheyeldin.com], e.g. WIND has frequencies different from the big 3, therefore forming a barrier to customers moving. The industry association formed by the big carriers convincing the government that they are running out of spectrum ...

      Even Citigroup questions the "rationale" of shortage in spectrum [baheyeldin.com].

      All this contributes to the balkanization and monopoly [baheyeldin.com]

      We had 3 newcomers to the market, WIND, PublicMobile, and Mobilicity. One was swallowed up by a bigger company, a second is in deep financial trouble and the third (WIND) stagnating.

      And don't get me started on costs! Regular plans are $55 a month, and then you add data to that! Highway robbery.

  • (Score: 1) by WildWombat on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:55AM

    by WildWombat (1428) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:55AM (#2156)

    I was under the impression that the EU cell phone market is already close to 100% saturation. Where are these 300 million additional customers going to come from?

    • (Score: 1) by isostatic on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:24AM

      by isostatic (365) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:24AM (#2201) Journal

      I have 4 devices that can take a simcard. A cheap PAYG phone for emergencies, which is left turned off. My normal phone, which I have a roaming deal at £70/200MB outside europe, 300MB inside Europe, a sim card in my laptop, which I don't use internationally, and an ipad, which I don't even have a sim card in.

      Without roaming charges I'd probably put a simcard in the ipad, and use my laptop one abroad.

      Phone Calls are the killed though. £1.80 per minute in many countries.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:35AM

      by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:35AM (#2208)
      The survey found that the majority of existing customers under-utilize their mobile phones when travelling, due to high roaming surcharges. The Commission's claim is that the cancellation of roaming charges will nudge them into actually using their mobile data features. Mobile providers, they say, are losing out on business due to their high price point. These aren't new customers, per se, but existing ones, i.e. a form of cross-selling (or upselling) thanks to price reductions.
      --
      Soylent is the best disinfectant.
    • (Score: 1) by rufty on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:00PM

      by rufty (381) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:00PM (#2398)

      Only one mobile per customer???

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:58AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19 2014, @04:58AM (#2158)

    I wonder if there are any websites that put stories up overnight?

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by hankwang on Wednesday February 19 2014, @06:27AM

    by hankwang (100) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @06:27AM (#2184) Homepage

    I'm in Netherlands. There are a lot of mobile virtual network operators that have very low domestic rates for voice calls. Unfortunately, for roaming they use the maximum allowed EU rate, not to mention the rates in Europe-not-EU (e.g. Norway, Switzerland, Turkey: I think around 2 euro per min/MB).

    Most of the main (non-virtual) operators here have good deals for roaming, although they are often "opt-in". Mine charges 2 euro per day abroad for a bundle of 20 min, 20 sms, 35 MB, including a few non-EU countries.

    It was my primary reason for cpughing up the higher monthly fee, rather than moving to an MVNO.

    Not sure how it is in other EU countries.

    P.S. Soylentnews: please consider posting stories with a non-American focus at a time that we are awake!

    • (Score: 1) by Dopefish on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:26AM

      by Dopefish (12) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:26AM (#2203)

      Greetings hankwang! I'm one of the main editors here at SoylentNews. Regarding your P.S. note, we are working hard to improve the output of content and wish to thank you for your feedback! I will definitely push for stories with more international appeal going forward! :)

      • (Score: 1) by TheRaven on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:25AM

        by TheRaven (270) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:25AM (#2313) Journal
        If you're looking for editors in non-US time zones to approve stories, I'd be happy to volunteer (TheRaven64 in the other place - I finally got to drop the 64 when I came here).
        --
        sudo mod me up
    • (Score: 1) by xaxa on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:06AM

      by xaxa (1489) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:06AM (#2302)

      I live in the UK, but I have SIM cards from Germany, the Netherlands and Vietnam. For just using data, it's no problem to have a different phone number for a week.

      The cheap virtual operators are great for this. I got a SIM from Bliep.nl and more than enough data for the week for about €10, which was very useful for using maps. (I cycled from Aachen to Rotterdam, so I needed 3G access to maps.)

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by epl on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:10AM

      by epl (1801) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:10AM (#2306)

      I live about 5-7minutes (depending on traffic) from the border and roaming is a total and utter BITCH.

      Some telcos used to offer special packages for people that live very close to the border; it boiled down to you paying about 1.5x normal rate and getting two home countries in return. It wasn't a spectacular deal, but it sure beats the current situation where after a 15 minute bike ride I get no data at all and if the phone rings I have to think really hard if I am willing to accept the call.

      WORST thing is the network in both countries is owned by the exact same company!

    • (Score: 1) by TheRaven on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:32AM

      by TheRaven (270) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @10:32AM (#2315) Journal
      Two Euros is about what I pay per month on my mobile. Two a day is good value if you're using the phone a lot in a foreign country, but it sucks for occasional use. I recently switched to Three's 3-2-1 plan (3p/min calls, 2p/SMS, 1p/MB data) and I've found that I use the phone a lot more. For one thing, I now rarely use SIP, because it's cheaper to use my mobile when calling mobiles and it's only slightly more expensive when calling landlines (and the call quality is a lot better). I don't use data much, because I'm usually near WiFi, but at 1p/MB I can happily do some low-bandwidth things without worrying too much about the cost. In particular, there's no step function. My previous provider was about the same price, but was 25p/day for data, with a 25MB AUP (i.e. don't go over it regularly, but if you do a few times they won't care). I almost never used data on that plan, because the difference between no-data and a tiny bit was a psychological jump. Now, the difference between no-data and some-data is the smallest currency increment available, so I'll happily use a few MBs when I'm out and not care about the cost, because it's so small. In particular, the cost of using a tiny bit of data every day is now 30p/month instead of £7.50/month.
      --
      sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 1) by hankwang on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:48PM

        by hankwang (100) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @12:48PM (#2381) Homepage

        "Two Euros is about what I pay per month on my mobile. "

        Good luck finding a plan that includes decent data in Netherlands for that price. Apparently smartphone ownership and usage here is so high compared to network capacity that you'll have to pay 10-20 euros per GB per month, even with the domestic MVNOs.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Nesh on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:44AM

    by Nesh (269) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @07:44AM (#2216)

    Let us see the customer case for roaming and data-use while roaming.

    (International) companies that give their employees a cell-phone don't have much alternative besides paying up. Switching to a VOIP solution where there is a WiFi connection helps a bit but tends to yield bad VOIP quality where the internet connection is too slow and/or saturated.

    For everyone else that pays their own bills: the cost isn't worth it.
    When I'm on holiday I just switch my mobile to airplane mode.
    Uploading pictures or reading/sending mails and messages can be done where there's WiFi (hotel,etc.). Texting/SMS is on the way out anyway.
    Off-line Openstreetmap data for navigation is great and also works out in the sticks where cell reception might be spotty or non-existent.

    Roaming used to be outrageously expensive. Non-technical users got bitten by huge bills (usually caused by data usage while roaming).
    We learned to do without expensive roaming and there's no incentive to start using it now.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by tomtomtom on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:13PM

    by tomtomtom (340) on Wednesday February 19 2014, @01:13PM (#2412)

    I suspect there are for two reasons for this actually - firstly roaming charges which can be high but manageable, at least within the EU; but secondly because of battery life. Today's smartphones have AWFUL battery life compared to the feature phones of 10 years ago. Even if you switch off data completely, they often won't last a full day on a normal charge.

    Typically when I'm in my home country I spend my time going between places where I can plug a phone in - at home, at a friend's house, in the office, etc. At most I'm away from a charger for say 4-5 hours. Abroad (for work or leisure) it's often a different story - I may need to go from leaving the hotel at 8am until returning much later in the day without charging. The phone might just about last that long not doing anything but as soon as I also need to make calls or use data (even Wifi data), it starts to eat into my battery life pretty severely.

    I eventually ended up buying an extra big battery to get around this. But very few people seem to even be aware of their existence; I get asked where I got it and how I knew to look for such a thing by people the first time they see my phone quite a lot.