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  #1  
Old 02-27-2012, 05:11 PM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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Is US mobile phone service inferior to other countries?

If so, why? Is it because it services more people? Is it because other nations have adopted better standards? In what ways is it better? Fatter pipes? Ubiquitous service?

Thanks,
Rob
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  #2  
Old 02-27-2012, 07:33 PM
sevenwood sevenwood is offline
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It is my understanding that one reason why the US expansion of its wireless phone networks happened slower than that of some other countries was because the existing US landline network was superior to that of those other countries. Given that, the demand for wireless just wasn't as great.

If you have a good landline network then you have less need for a good wireless network.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:49 PM
shijinn shijinn is offline
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at first glance, this doesn't make sense. what has a good landline network got to do with the emergence of the handphones? if you're outside, public payphones are yucky things that you have to put your ear against. that is if the person then using it in front of you ever finishes the call.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:59 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shijinn View Post
at first glance, this doesn't make sense. what has a good landline network got to do with the emergence of the handphones? if you're outside, public payphones are yucky things that you have to put your ear against. that is if the person then using it in front of you ever finishes the call.
Seldom have I ever seen a pay phone so dirty that I would not use it. And with a large network of easily available public phones, there was much less consumer demand for personal phones, particularly in the early years, when cell phones were bulky and expensive, with spotty network coverage.

Fifteen years after I got my first cell phone, the main route between here and the state capital still had gaps in cell coverage in rural areas.
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:14 PM
Digital is the new Analog Digital is the new Analog is offline
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I don't have a yes or no answer..but in some developing countries, cell phone service is much more common than land line service. Cell coverage gets to lots of rural areas just by up a tower in the right area. No running lines all over town. Because the networks are just being built out now, they are often done with more up-to-date technology. In the US, we have a lot of legacy technology that we tend to keep hold to.

-D/a
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  #6  
Old 02-27-2012, 08:18 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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I think it's roughly the same as other western countries these days. In my experience, it's more spotty just due to the logistics of a less densely populated country, but it's just fine near cities.

I guess a good metric would be the 4G rollout, which the US is doing pretty well in in comparison to some of the rest of us.
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:54 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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The U.S. has generally favored competition over cooperation, so while Europe had GSM uniformly in place, U.S. carriers all had their own proprietary service. I think this may still be true to an extent though CDMA seems to be prevalent. This doesn't address signal quality or coverage, but does affect interoperability. While GSM users were taking their SIM cards all over Europe, Americans were struggling with what carrier had roaming coverage where for their phone.

In terms of quality of service, the U.S. covers a lot of territory with large sparsely populated areas compared to Europe. Japan has something like more than 1/3 of the U.S. population in an area smaller than California. Density gives you economies of scale. Australia, OTOH, has a much smaller density than the U.S.--how is their cell service?
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  #8  
Old 02-27-2012, 09:05 PM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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I got a cellphone pretty early on. I remember people looking at me when I made a call. I rarely used it, since the cost was pretty outrageous by today's standards. Coverage has increased substantially over the years, although t he curve has become less and less steep recently.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:13 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
The U.S. has generally favored competition over cooperation, so while Europe had GSM uniformly in place, U.S. carriers all had their own proprietary service. I think this may still be true to an extent though CDMA seems to be prevalent. This doesn't address signal quality or coverage, but does affect interoperability. While GSM users were taking their SIM cards all over Europe, Americans were struggling with what carrier had roaming coverage where for their phone.
It's not just Europe: the GSM standard was adopted pretty much all over the world (the only place I've been where they had a different system was Raratonga in the Cook Islands, which had an analog service!). You can go all over Asia with a European phone and vice versa. There's also the fact that US phones used to be on a different frequency from the rest of the world. For me to use my phone in the US I had to ensure I had a tri-band phone.

In addition to the competitive exclusions, the pay-to-receive model of US cellphones may also have had an effect on the takeup. You don't pay to receive anywhere else I've been, unless you're roaming in a different country.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:33 PM
Digital is the new Analog Digital is the new Analog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
It's not just Europe: the GSM standard was adopted pretty much all over the world (the only place I've been where they had a different system was Raratonga in the Cook Islands, which had an analog service!). You can go all over Asia with a European phone and vice versa. There's also the fact that US phones used to be on a different frequency from the rest of the world. For me to use my phone in the US I had to ensure I had a tri-band phone.

In addition to the competitive exclusions, the pay-to-receive model of US cellphones may also have had an effect on the takeup. You don't pay to receive anywhere else I've been, unless you're roaming in a different country.
Most countries have GSM coverage..there are four main bands for GSM, and I haven't seen a GSM/UMTS phone that doesn't support all four of them in a long time. Parts of Asia are UMTS without GSM..you have to have right right UMTS band to use your phone there. But if you take your 3G UMTS phone from the US to Europe, there's a really good chance you'd get service. GSM service.


The US also has CDMA networks. Parts of Latin America and Central America also have CDMA, as do a few parts of Asia.


-D/a
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  #11  
Old 02-27-2012, 09:40 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Originally Posted by Digital is the new Analog View Post
Most countries have GSM coverage..there are four main bands for GSM, and I haven't seen a GSM/UMTS phone that doesn't support all four of them in a long time. Parts of Asia are UMTS without GSM..you have to have right right UMTS band to use your phone there. But if you take your 3G UMTS phone from the US to Europe, there's a really good chance you'd get service. GSM service.


The US also has CDMA networks. Parts of Latin America and Central America also have CDMA, as do a few parts of Asia.
I bow to your superior knowledge. Also I haven't been to the US for several years so was describing what used to be the position. Though I will say that this GSM coverage world map appears to contradict you saying that there are currently non-GSM parts of Asia.
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  #12  
Old 02-27-2012, 09:46 PM
DataX DataX is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
I think it's roughly the same as other western countries these days. In my experience, it's more spotty just due to the logistics of a less densely populated country, but it's just fine near cities.

I guess a good metric would be the 4G rollout, which the US is doing pretty well in in comparison to some of the rest of us.
I agree - it is mostly population density:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_density

2nd map jives with what my experience has been in other countries.

Also - I think you have areas in the US where you can't put mobile phone towers due to the whole NIMBY stuff - I doubt they would put up with that in other countries, but I really don't know.
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  #13  
Old 02-27-2012, 10:11 PM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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China is far better than the US, and much cheaper too.
Population density
low landline penetration
Brand new network that covers most of the country

I remember driving over a 13,000 foot mountain pass in Tibet talking to my buddy in the Bay Area. I had 3-4 bars, and he kept dropping the call.
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  #14  
Old 02-27-2012, 10:57 PM
Digital is the new Analog Digital is the new Analog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
I bow to your superior knowledge. Also I haven't been to the US for several years so was describing what used to be the position. Though I will say that this GSM coverage world map appears to contradict you saying that there are currently non-GSM parts of Asia.
I'll match your cite with Japan-Guide.com, one of several sites that claim Japan has no GSM network.

That being said..I'm constantly amazed at what countries have what service. I've sat in on core team calls for cell phone designs for about 10 years, and I still get surprised at what carriers exist to buy our products.

Maybe someone from Japan will stop by and clear it up.


And you're absolutely right that the US used to be on different frequencies. Before GSM chips became almost throw-in technology for cell phones, it was common to have one dual or tri band GSM devices. At that point, you had to be careful about band support, just like we are now for UMTS. It wasn't that long ago.


-D/a
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