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RIAA: Shot Through the Heart?
Vodafone's chief executive Arun Sarin "hinted that Microsoft needed to improve its keenly awaited system before Vodafone would consider using it in its handsets." Sarin told the paper: "In our view, it's not quite ready for prime time."
The Financial Times: Vodafone Delays Microsoft Move
Cell phone companies are facing ramped up competition, particularly in light of new federal rules that allow consumers to switch carriers while still keeping their same phone numbers. With pricing wars in effect, another battle front relates to call quality. The San Jose Mercury News writes today that "the major carriers have highly detailed maps showing exactly where their phones will and won't work. Maps they absolutely refuse to share with you and me. This must change. For consumers to be completely informed when picking a wireless phone provider, block-by-block coverage maps are a necessity -- a necessity without which the marketplace isn't truly competitive," the article said. "Under tremendous pressure from the public, regulators and politicians, most of these problems have been fixed or at least alleviated. Service contracts now give 14 or 30 days to change your mind, monthly bills are more straightforward, and "number portability" -- the right to keep your phone number when you change carriers -- started Nov. 24, after years of industry stalling. So it's time to knock down the last stone wall by demanding the industry share its 'quality of service' data." Don't hold your breath.
The San Jose Mercury News: Cell Phone Companies Should Level With Public
What you can expect to see (in fact, it's already happening) is more trouble with switching your carrier. "The nation's largest wireless phone companies are employing controversial tactics to prevent customers from changing carriers, despite new federal rules designed to make it easier for people to switch, contend consumer groups and class-action lawyers," The San Francisco Chronicle said today. "So far, hundreds of thousands of customers have switched, but critics say phone companies are using other tricks to deter millions more customers from switching, such as: -- Locking customers into increasingly lengthy contracts and forcing customers to pay hundreds of dollars in "early termination fees" if they cancel early. -- Rigging customers' handsets so they can't be used with another carrier. That forces customers who want to switch to buy a new phone and painstakingly re-enter all their phone contacts." Some cell phone companies obviously will be on Santa's "coal in your stockings" list Wednesday night.
The San Francisco Chronicle: Cell Firms Keep Tight Hold On Users
The Seattle Times has an article today on another hurdle for cell phone companies. Popular walkie-talkie-type services are growing in popularity, meaning particular heartache for Nextel, which used to be the only carrier to offer the service. "Nextel Communications' monopoly on cellphones that also work as walkie-talkies has ended. In August, Verizon Wireless broke the stranglehold on the market when it introduced a competing service, seven years after Reston, Va.-based Nextel rolled out its offering," The Seattle Times said "Verizon Wireless' introduction and those soon to follow from other carriers may shake up the cellphone industry more than any other new service in recent memory."
The Seattle Times: The Walkie-Talkie Way: Competition Is Shaking Up The Cellphone Industry