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« US vs Them? American wireless industry, come meet me at Camera 3 | Main | iPhone 4 goes on sale, RIM reports quarter, Google drops bombshell »

June 25, 2010


Alexander Gödde

Before my last trip to London I checked pre-paid plans and was a bit shocked by how much cheaper minutes packages were than in Germany. And, sure enough, Germans on average talk quite a bit less on their mobiles than the British.

This got me thinking, however:
What if Germans don't talk less because of the cost of minutes, but because our cultural background means that we are less chatty on the phone?
Since I would guess that the ARPU in both cases is in a similar bracket for both Germany and GB, and with fixed costs for the networks etc. presumably being approximately the same, maybe the cost of minutes is a function of desired ARPU/average minutes talked? Maybe Germans pay more per minute than the British precisely because we talk less on the phone than them?

Antoine RJ Wright

Tomi, wow. This was a debate and response. I don't know that a reply will be publically forth coming, but it needs to.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Alexander and ARJ

Alexander - good point and we've been wondering about that for example in Finland that perhaps part of the reason why SMS was such an easy early hit in Finland is that Finns are natually very reserved, do not open up to talk much, so a more 'contemplating' communication which you can do easily with SMS seemed to suit them - ie you can wait for a while considering how to reply haha...

ARJ - thanks haha.. I would love to hear his answer, but am afraid it won't come.. But I am really happy originally that he took the time to answer and on the surface of it, his response blog did seem to address several of the issues. Its not until more careful observation point-by-point that we notice he did not even touch 15 of the 20 points I made haha..

Thank you both for writing, now am holding my breath to see if Steve replies (ok, thats enough, I stopped holding breath haha..)

Tomi :-)

Fernando Guillan

i Tomi, what can I say. You left me speechless. Your are so intelligent, well informed and so good at what you do but still you are so humble.That says a lot about the kind of human being you are.It was a sheer pleasure to read your response to Mr. Steve Largent, CEO and President of the CTIA, even if he does not deserves to be adressed as Mister. I am sure Mr Steven Largent, CEO and President of the CTIA must be in pain big time right now. The truth hurts. And you gave him nothing but the truth.
My feeling is he will not have the guts to reply to you. He must be running for cover now. He, without a doubt is a disgrace for the industry. I hate a person with such low standars, who is capable to use any lies and misleading information to try to win an argument. I feel sorry for Mr. Steve Largent, CEO and President of the CTIA.
Tomi thank you very much for being such an honest and straightforward guy. We need more people like you in this world.I am proud to follow you on twitter and read your blog. I really hope to meet you in person sometime in the future. I am looking forward to it. By the way, do not take it the wrong way. I am not hitting on you, I am happy husband. Hahahaha... Just kidding.
I just wanted to give you the credit you deserve for all your hard work. Once again, thank you Tomi for everything you do.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Ferndando

Thank you so much. I am humbled.. And I really appreciate it that you took the time to write that.

BTW I also of course went to the CTIA blog and posted my very short, polite and informative comment that I have acknowledged his responses here and on Twitter, and that I have posted a rebuttal here (and invited CTIA blog readers to consider returning to read my new posting here).

Lets see if that is going to be posted on the CTIA blog after mediation, or if they don't want that comment up haha...

Thank you Fernando - I am sure we'll meet up at some point and have a good cup of coffee together and discuss how to make the mobile world a better place, eh?


Tomi :-)


Tomi, it is always a pleasure to read your blogs. This one rates as one of the best to date.

I enjoy your analytical approach to the rebuttal. The fact that you share all these stats and data about the world telecoms market so freely, without expectations is awesome. I look forward to reading more...please keep up your good work!



Great reply Tomi! I enjoy reading your articles every time. Also there is no point to blame Mr. Steve Largent; after all it is his job to protect his industry.

I think it is absolutely ridicules that they charge for incoming SMS, unlike phone calls you have no way of blocking them. If you bring your own phone and not signing for a new contract they actually charge you more!

The big three (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint) grew up from old telecommunications companies so not surprisingly they inherited the way to do business and T-Mobile and the rest just following the lead. Just few points: we have 2 phones with WiFi router functionality - HTC Evo and Motorola Droid X; I had this feature for about 2 years on my Windows Mobile phones with 3rd party software. Also I read technical articles about WiMax and it looks very similar to LTE and Clearwire mentions that the backbone is the same; the only difference is in "software" so it has to be 4G.

C. Enrique Ortiz

Great summary Tomi... "Mobile" in the USA is not as smooth as Europe; there is a lot of legacy baggage. A lot of the same excuses from more than 10 years ago are still being used! For example, the same network concerns from operators which are the reasons why things such as video calling has not been deployed. And the control by operators is reason why the selection of handsets is much smaller. Your posts help create transparency, thanks.

In the meantime, "In Chaos Lies Opportunity" for those who want to take it.



Great using of facts & figures, as always.
But I stumbled over your "most advanced hardware" argument. Please show me a japanese smartphone with 4.5 inch, NFC and WiFi router capability. And even more important on what OS?


Tomi, this is absolutely the kind of debate more required at open forums. Thanks for broaching the subject.

Question: does culture, law of the land and awareness in US contribute to the unfortunate facts you have identified? Appreciate your opinion.


Have distributed to all clients, contacts and the twittersphere. We love you Tomi.


For the Japan phones mentioned:


Sharp released a phone in 2009 with a ppi of 282.73 (1024x480 on a 4" touch screen).

Personally I like this 2009 phone from Japan: - Remind you of any current launched phones? :P

Vezance Xocobs

hey Tomi! thanks for the wonderful article. I must admit i'd prefer your sentences to be better structured but i guess the style works for a lot of readers. I guess i am just too busy to spend too much time reading.
anyway, i used this post as a reference for one of my articles and linked back to you :)

Walt French


Now, let's be clear that asking the CTIA to clean up its act is asking its members to go on a profit diet. Seems pretty clear that if they thought better service would get them more customers, or that lower prices, more flexible pricing plans, etc etc mattered, why, there was nothing to stop them.

So now that we're clear on what's happening, what can we do to change it?

I'll offer the idea that US cell companies protect their oligopoly by many means. Frinstance, subsidized phones justify the contract locks, and as Apple found out, Americans seem to enjoy their free leg-irons. Dunno how to change that. But the FCC practice of auctioning spectrum is something Americans OUGHT to control. Right now, a carrier has to pay huge bucks up front to allow them to put up antennas (or lease them from tower co's); unless they're one of the big 4 they're pretty much guaranteeing financial suicide. Economists call this a "barrier to entry" and here we have the gummint enforcing it.

Nothing I can think of would be more effective than requiring firms that lease America's radio allocation (from us Americans, who own the spectrum), to re-license them to any and all carriers on a non-discriminatory basis, together that no single lessor acquire rights to more than 25% if there were competitive bids at all.

So American Tower Co might pony up for 25% of all the spectrum in California, which they would then re-sell to AT&T, Verizon, etc. If they charged too much for it, another company would have incentive to undercut the price. And most importantly, WaltFrench Mobile, Inc., could sign up for ~ 1% of the usage on a metered basis, and I could offer all-US coverage without having to sink billions in spectrum that I could not get customers for.

This idea might mean lower prices in the FCC auctions. Americans would get less from the carriers. It would result in MUCH lower prices for service. Americans would come out way ahead.

Better ideas welcomed. Even those outraged rants are welcomed, but I think we should move to the next step.


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How about this!??


And slightly off topic:

In France, there is a package from (
where you get Unlimited Internet, cable TV and UNLIMITED CALLS to 103 countries landlines and cell phones for less than $40/month!!!!!! (special numbers excluded).

Go to:

and click on "Inclus dans votre forfait" to see the map of what's "Included in your package"

My parents and my sister call me for "free" (to Boston) and I always have to shorten the conversation because in the US we also pay for incoming calls!

Why is this possible in France and not in the US?? Have cable TV, phone and internet providers made a deal??

Baseball Hats

I gave my site a few examples below. If you appreciate my comments in you enter.Baseball Hats


Alexander - good point and we've been wondering about that for example in Finland that perhaps part of the reason why SMS was such an easy early hit in Finland is that Finns are natually very reserved, do not open up to talk much, so a more 'contemplating' communication which you can do easily with SMS seemed to suit them - ie you can wait for a while considering how to reply haha...

white iphone 4

superb posts. Mind sharing how you get the info for blog posts

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