Will the U.S. ever go truly Un-carrier?

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 16.28.39

Over the past year T-Mobile’s making moves we never expected to see in the U.S. market. Getting rid of contract plans, selling phones for $0 down, getting rid of overages, roaming charges and a heck of a lot more. It is almost certainly the Un-carrier in the sense that it’s removing pain points that’ve been part of the industry so long. These moves have made it one of the most popular carriers in the States, adding more subscribers than most of its competition and expanding coverage at ridiculous pace. It’s the one to watch.

But, it’s still a carrier. And that can’t change. But maybe the U.S. can.

Over in the Netherlands just last month, the government approved the use of carrier-free SIM cards. Although there are none on sale just yet, the legalization paves the way for future development. What it means is you can buy your device unlocked, with the SIM card included, and then choose your own carrier, and change it when you see fit without having to change your phone number or swapping out your SIM. The news piece got my brain ticking, thinking about the possibilities and freedom in a world where carriers can’t tie you down in any way at all.

Another way is Apple’s way. Back in 2010, the iPhone-maker attempted to create its own carrier-free SIM that would be embedded inside the iPhone. And – as we know – Apple likes to give carriers as little control as possible. Sadly, government and regulatory bodies weren’t keen back then.

Before any of this could be made possible in the U.S., there are tons of stumbling blocks in the way. Firstly, there’s the issue of older network technologies still in place. Verizon and Sprint still use CDMA networks for 2G/3G connections, so if there was a carrier-free SIM in the States, it’d only be able to log on to AT&T or T-Mobile’s airwaves for anything that isn’t LTE. And then there’s the FCC and Department of Justice. Both parties would have to see the move as something beneficial to the U.S. consumer. Both would also have to ignore pressure from carriers who would surely lobby against a move to make it legal.

I need not remind you this is all entirely hypothetical as far as the States goes. But it’s a reality abroad and isn’t completely impossible.

Once you get over the legal and technical challenges, there’s another to consider: Consumer habit. Customers are used to going in to stores, signing up to a monthly plan of some kind and walking out having either paid $0 up front, or around $199. The price of the handset – until last year – was always something hidden from the customer. It was unreal the number of people with the mentality that the phone “only” cost $200. When, in fact, the other $400 was hidden within the cost of the monthly plan.

With a true carrier-free arrangement, customers would need to buy their devices from a third party, and not a carrier retail store. They’d also need to know the full retail price. Something which isn’t alien to them anymore, thanks to the Un-carrier movement from T-Mo. At the same time, there aren’t many out there with the ability to stump up full retail cost up front, and so an EIP arrangement (similar to T-Mobile’s) would need to be made for purchasing. Something which many are familiar with when buying TVs, cars, white goods or other expensive products. In other words: It’s not completely alien. But, unlike the T-Mo method, you’re not forced to stay on with one carrier while the monthly payments are being made.

Imagine the situation: You’ve bought a phone with a carrier-free SIM and you happen to live in an area with great, fast T-Mobile LTE coverage. So you sign up to T-Mobile on a rolling monthly plan. But, you work away, or go to school in an area where Verizon is best, so you switch while you’re away and get back on T-Mo when you move back for break.

It saves the consumer from having to be “stuck” with any particular carrier, and gives them freedom to change if a particular network operator isn’t ideal. As an extra plus, carriers would be forced to compete in two areas that we all agree are most vital: Price and coverage.

What do you guys think? Would you welcome the legalization of carrier-free SIMs, or is that one step too far for you? Feel free to shout at me in the comments section.

News Via: CNET


Tags: , ,

  • yes please

  • itguy08

    I don’t see how anyone could argue something like this wouldn’t be beneficial for the customer?!?!?!?

    • TheVorlon

      I don’t see how anyone could argue something like this is beneficial for the customer?!?!?!?

      • itguy08

        Huh? When they know you can leave at a moment’s notice and take your number (the most important thing for many) with you that makes it wise for them to provide great service and coverage. And keep prices in a good range.

        IOW: great for the customer, not for them.

        • TheVorlon

          Leaving at a moments notice has nothing to do with a programmable SIM card.

          You just stick in another one from another carrier.

  • Raj

    I don’t understand the significance of carrier-free SIMs for Europe. Right now Europeans are used to buying their own phone and just getting a SIM card from their preferred carrier. They can also get a new SIM card from another carrier when they’re tempted to switch. Is a carrier-free SIM really that much more frictionless than their current system?

    • Cam Bunton

      1 – Not all phones are unlocked here. If you buy from a carrier direct, it’s locked, and not always free to unlock.

      2 – Swapping SIMs and porting your number across is hassle, since it takes a few days for your number to change networks. With a carrier-free SIM, you can just change the carrier you’re with without having to do any that.

      • TheVorlon

        Actually, only only takes a few minutes for a number to port between carriers.

        I ported a number from AT&T to T-Mobile just a few weeks ago.

        • Cam Bunton

          We’re talking Europe specifically here. I ported a number here, and it took 3 days.

        • SBacklin

          That really sucks. Number porting here in the US, can take a day or two at most in unusual circumstances but its usually immediate. At least that’s how its been with me.

      • guidomus_maximus

        I would imagine that from a systems perspective, the process would be identical. There would be no advantage to a carrier free SIM, other than not have to trudge down to the store an buy a new SIM.

      • Raj

        Thanks for the insight from a Euro perspective. How would a carrier-free SIM remove any of the number-porting friction?

        • Cam Bunton

          I’m presuming it’s because the number would be assigned to that specific SIM card. So, you can switch between carriers without losing that identity.

      • philyew

        I’m also curious to know how a carrier-free SIM would expedite the process of porting a number between networks? There would still be a requirement for the number to be visibly associated with the chosen network so that the public switching infrastructure would be able to route calls to the right carrier.

        • ChitChatCat

          My question exactly. The SIM provides an identity to the cellular network for your phone. Your phone number provides an identity to the switching network. The two meet at your carrier, and the call is delivered. But the two are very different processes.

  • johnediii

    Yeah, I don’t see carrier free SIM cards as being necessary. There are a lot more pain points with the way carriers operate in the US than that. T-Mo is making great strides to deal with many of them, but there are still some glaring examples of “carrier-ness” in the “uncarrier”.

  • SBacklin

    I think I can see this carrier free SIM as icing on a cake. It’d be great to have so one just doesn’t have to worry about taking one out and putting a new one in. However, the current system in Europe where you buy the device from wherever and just plop in the new SIM from your carrier of choice isn’t such a horrible thing either. You have to be realistic, swapping SIMs isn’t that big of a deal.

    • TheVorlon

      The primary reason I like the SIM card model is that I can easily swap the SIM between phones that I’m using.

    • Cam Bunton

      I don’t know where this view that you can buy a device from “wherever” and it’s unlocked comes from. It’s certainly not true in the UK. Only certain third party retailers sell unlocked phones. If you buy from a carrier retail store, it’s almost always locked, unless it’s a Nexus device.

      • SBacklin

        Ah ok, well I stand corrected. I was under the mistaken impression thats how it was in Europe. Anyway, for the sake of discussion, lets just say that it was that way for a moment, having it that way or this carrier free sim idea wouldn’t be such a bad idea. My point was that either way would work.

        • Alan Mac Ailbhe

          It may not be the case in Europe, but in Hong Kong where all phones are sold unlocked (not necessarily meant they’re unbloated though, especially Android phones where carriers can add bloatwares), you can get a phone on a carrier plan and then sell off your phone for cash whilst keeping your contract going.

          This is the case how grey markets iPhones can be sold so readily from Hong Kong to China: you can sell your carrier obtained phone into the grey market without needing to unlock it. Indeed, when I bought iPhone 5 once the carrier asked specifically whether I want Nano SIM because he’d expect I would sold the phone on and just wanted a contract!

          However, carrier-free SIM is really a new idea that can be explored.

      • randomnerd_number38

        From comments from supposed Europeans that say something similar to “what’s with you crazy Americans? I got got a SIM card and pay 5 pounds a month for unlimited everything! I buy my own phones.” You see them all over tech sites.

        • Cam Bunton

          You can do it, but it’s not as common place as comments might make you think. Most people still buy phones on contract, paying nothing up front, with a locked phone.

  • Fr0stTr0n

    There is a better chance that politicians won’t become greedy and corrupt.

  • Alex Zapata

    Personally, I would love to see something like this happen, but I’m only one person.

  • thatuptowncat37

    YESS please because then stinking VERIZON would have to get off their high horse!!!

  • Ruskastud

    This could be good for some, but I think there are still moves to be made in the current “carrier” environment. Like being able to re-assign data from numbers you have that never use data, or being able to pool your data from month to month. You pay for it, why can’t you use it in the way that best suits you…..?

    • Jason

      I think it would be neat and pro consumer but it would be too cumbersome and not cost effective for a carrier….
      Your dealing with accounting and billing software where you have to code plans, options, etc
      Reassignment of usage numbers has a paper trail whether digitally or manually…..
      Include the company having to have pay for employee’s overlook and support

      Pooling your data would hurt a carriers profit, they are selling you a monthly service with margins and prices set accordingly…..
      Your paying for a monthly service so you should plan accordingly….
      Most postpaid monthly services don’t allow you to pool or reassign what you didn’t use for month…

      It’s not that I disagree with you but it’s unrealistic to put personal responsibility and due diligence on to a company’s back and want the company to be cost effective…..
      A company needs to be able to have an honest income projection to plan upgrades, pay bills, and provide service…

      Apply the same logic to other monthly services and it doesn’t make sense….
      Garbage man counting garbage bags, rolling over hours of unused Netflix, car insurance companies billing per actual hours driven, etc etc
      If you want pay per use or budget carriers thats what prepaid is for….

  • g

    This idea sounds ideal but would be too complicated to get approved. As mentioned, Verizon and Sprint would need to remove their old networks, which will not be for some time.
    Ideally, we need to have phones unlocked across all networks.3rd party financing would have to be through the manufactures themselves at no interest for this to even make sense.

  • dm33

    tmonews forums are broken. Is there any plan to fix them? Where can folks discuss TMobile, in particular its stock. Down to 27 and change today. I get the following error messages on tmonews forums, Undefined variable: boarddir in /vol/www/htdocs/forums/index.php on line 46

    • Cam Bunton

      Forums have been inactive for over a year, I believe.

  • Nreaction

    Because of spectrum, and mash up of different tech(CDMA vs GSM) this will be difficult to accomplish. Perhaps the easier way to go would be to apply pressure on phone manufactures to create a phone with multi radios or better yet module phone such as “Project Ara”.

    I currently rock prepaid plan, using google voice(my way around porting every time I change carriers) so I can shop different carriers and am free to go to whom ever has better deal suited for my needs, but I am limited because of CDMA vs GSM here in the states.

  • jej

    This is for IoT devices like cars and where a removeable sim is not feasible. The carriers are dead set against this and I don’t see t mobile being any different. Look at their rate plans, they want everyone paying at least $40 a month instead of switching to a cheaper plan or a different carrier when their usage is light.

  • 21stNow

    I’m for anything that makes a carrier a service provider only. This could eliminate the need for retail locations, as well, which could further drive down carrier costs and “should” be passed on to the customer.

    I’m still against the EIP plans of any kind. Let any financing go through our normal credit card/banking system.

    • Jay

      If that happened alot of people would be out of jobs and your credit/ banking institution woukd charge you interest or a financing fee. It would be a business for credit card companies Companies.

      • 21stNow

        True, some retail reps would be out of jobs. However, more call center workers would be needed if you had to call in to initiate service or chat representatives for those who choose to initiate service online. It probably wouldn’t completely balance out, but I think that there are too many retail locations right now.

        • Jason

          Yeah more outsourced companies providing customer care for a company they don’t actually work for….
          Might be cell store density problems in my area but totally disagree that there is too many….

          Prepaid sounds right for your idealogy imo

    • drivethruboy168

      And get charged interest from your bank or credit card??? No thank you!

      • 21stNow

        There are situations where stores like Best Buy have 0% financing for in-store purchases. Purchasing a cell phone would be no different from purchasing a computer.

        The current EIP programs allow the device prices to stay high instead of coming down like computer prices did over time. The ISP subsidization model didn’t last with computers, and prices fell after that time.

        • drivethruboy168

          Yea, but the last time I asked or checked Best Buys full retail price on device it was like $100-$200 more than what T-Mobile sells for. But… I will check the next time I am at a Best Buy. Plus, Best Buy is interest free for a limited time, after that you get charged interest.

        • 21stNow

          I just used Best Buy as an example. My hope (and I know that I’m dreaming) is that once you move Best Buy away from getting commission on the new plans that they sell from the carriers, the device prices would come inline with what the carriers currently charge or go lower. Plans would only be available from carriers, much like most customers get their plans directly from their ISPs instead of signing up at Best Buy for internet service on their computers.

        • Jason

          Best Buy isn’t getting a lot in comissions to dictate a price decline…
          When Best Buy does receive commissions it basically carrier payment for acquiring or retaining service for the carrier…
          Sometimes price is cheaper at Best Buy etc etc
          The only way your going to see the cheaper price is your going to buy in bulk from manufacturer directly….
          Companies have to have some profit otherwise what would be the point in creating stuff….
          Totally against price gouging or high profit ratios and love saving money but cell phones are reasonably priced for what they are capable of….

        • Jason

          EIP has no effect on device pricing….
          Manufacturer’s set prices and carrier’s decides what it will profit or subsidize for their listing price….
          Computer prices fell because tech advances whether price per part, advancement in competing smart devices, etc….
          Stores offering 0% have nothing to do with manufacturer unless your financing thru manufacturer…
          ISP subsidization ??? What some ISP would give you a cheaper PC price if you had service thru said ISP? Never heard of that in my area….
          EIP is just a transparency change from including the phone subsidy within phone plan charge…Nothing new
          Why would you not want retail stores? I love being able to get quality face to face service and hands on time with devices…
          A store is also the top way to advertise and attract business….

        • 21stNow

          EIP has the same effect as device subsidization did as far as consumers buying phones that are really more expensive than they can afford. Remove EIP and the sticker shock hits, then people will flock to more affordable alternatives.

          The reasons that you listed for computer prices falling should be the same reasons that smartphone prices should be falling, but they haven’t.

          The 0% credit card financing was only listed as an alternative to EIP. It had nothing to do with MSRP.

          Internet service providers used to subsidize computers in the late 90s/early 2000s. I bought my first computer through a three-year contract with MSN. One- and two-year contracts were also available and a few other ISPs had similar offers.

          A customer does not always get “quality” face to face service from a retail store. Cellular service should be more like electric and cable service in my opinion. Utility companies have very few walk-in places for customers to go and handle most of their service activations over the phone or internet.

        • Jason

          Utility companies have there service area predefined and typically prewired….
          Utility companies also come to the customer address when service problems arise, do you expect Cell carriers to do the same?
          I didn’t say everytime you get quality service merely stated what I’d like personally….

          What time period are you referring to computers price dropping, shelf life has been alot longer time period for PCs and cell phones have dropped in price over the first cells to even the newest smart cell prices….Touch pro’s, windows 6 phones etc were listed for $700, first cell phones were in thousands….
          Cheapest smartphone prices 5 years ago were higher than budget smart phones now….

          People are always going to buy stuff they can’t afford, it happens in every industry known to humans….What you think is expensive could be cheap to others depending on how they value it….There is always a crowd that needs the greatest and latest at any cost….

          EIP, financing, subsidies have nothing to do with a company deciding their starting price…..

          Cheaper smart phones exist now already and rarely are top sellers….People will still pick what they desire whether true price is shown….

          Nexus phones are a perfect example, Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S4, S4 kills Nexus 5 in sales…..I love my Nexus 5 but have yet to meet anyone else with one….

        • 21stNow

          I am comparing high-end to high-end. The Galaxy S (Vibrant) had an original retail price of $500 on T-Mobile. The Galaxy S5 has a retail price of $660 on T-Mobile.

          I’m mostly going back four years, as I didn’t pay attention to off-contract prices prior to that time.

        • Jason

          Vibrant wasn’t high end IMO and your comparing too short of a time period….

          Within the last four years of cellphones there has been alot of advancement in hardware alone…

          For apples to apple comparison what was the HTC evo 4g / HTC incredible/htc hd2/bb9780/iPhone 3gs start price, those were the top devices as S5 is now….

          Year before Touch Pro 2 start price was $880….
          Vibrant was towards the beginning of Samsung learning how to make a good cellphone and early android phone era….

          Price has gone down for devices with similar specs released nowdays…

          Computer prices falling has been easily a 20+ year process…..With that said you could also find more expensive top notch prebuilt computers more expensive than top flight prebuilts 5 to 10 years ago….

        • 21stNow

          At this point, you are arguing just to argue with me. The Vibrant was the highest Samsung Android phone at the time and the highest Android phone on T-Mobile at the time of release. It is part of the same Galaxy S series that brought us the Galaxy S5, that you agree is a high-end phone.

          If I take a similar snapshot in time for computers, the price of a midrange computer in 2005 was about half the cost of a midrange computer in 2000. There’s really no fair comparison for this in the smartphone realm. Four years ago, there weren’t many devices that were released as midrange. Last year’s high-end model became this year’s midrange or low-end model. Smartphone manufacturers didn’t really start catering to the midrange until 2012/13.

        • Jason

          At the time Samsung was crap for phones….
          It may of been part of the S series but that’s what innovation has brought us….
          Galaxy S series has built up it platform considerably from S1 to now S5….
          Sales of S1 had half of the amount of sales compared to every other S series phones….S1 was the worst out of the S series and your comparing it to possibly the best….
          Find me a a reputable review site that says S1 was a high end phone and not a high end Samsung device….S5 is a top 5 phone with all the other top phones being similary priced….Some might rate a Nexus 5 top 5 but google subsidized the price of the phone….

          Computers is an older technology….Smart phones aren’t nowhere as near as old…
          2010 was single core 512mb ram, Now quad core 2gbs of ram
          Best way to see if innovation becomes cheaper is to take the cheapest phone available for said year and compare it to the cheapest phone available currently….

        • Jason

          Galaxy S didn’t even have a camera flash when taking pictures…How long have cell phones had flash when taking pictures ROFL

        • 21stNow

          There are phones today that miss features that other phones have. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t high-end. Your beloved Galaxy S5 has only 2GB of RAM while the Note 3 has 3GB of RAM. Does that mean that the Galaxy S isn’t high-end since a phone that is six months older has more RAM? Of course not.

        • Jason

          Note 3 is a phone tablet …..
          Second off your example is flawed because the S5 isn’t missing ram it has a smaller amount, S1 didn’t have ANY flash…

          S5 is top 5 device for all platforms….

          But to play devils advocate can you tell the difference performance wise on that Gig of ram?
          I’m sure everyone would notice the flash missing every time they tried to take a picture….

        • 21stNow

          I just used that as an example. I’m not alleging that there is any difference in performance. My point was missing one feature or even having less of another feature does not mean that a phone is not high-end.

          The HTC One M8 doesn’t have the waterproofing feature that the Galaxy S5 does. Is the One M8 not a high-end phone? A user would notice that lack of waterproofing every time the One M8 got wet. The Galaxy S5 has only one camera lens versus the HTC One M8 has a dual-camera lens. Is the Galaxy S5 not a high-end phone?

        • Jason

          See how silly your argument is getting?

          Your still stuck on not considering all cellphones at the time

          Having no camera flash was crucial to the low sales of the Vibrant….

          Comparing specs to all phones at time of release determines high end or not….

          Samsung reputation then isn’t even near the same as now…Innovation has price tagstags but it can also pay dividend’s

        • 21stNow

          I’ve mentioned the phones that were contemporaries of the Vibrant in a previous post, which you never responded to to give what a higher-end T-Mobile Android phone was at the time.

          The argument is not silly but your rebuttals are weak.

        • Jason

          Tmobile didn’t have any good phones at the time besides BB models….
          My Touch Slide would be number 2….
          Just because it was the best phone on the worst carrier at the time, doesnt make it a top 5 phone like S5 is now ….

          How many phones had a camera flash at time of Vibrant?

        • 21stNow

          You challenge things that I say based on feelings. You asked for a reputable review site; if I say that Engadget called the Vibrant and the Captivate high-end Android devices, you will say that Engadget is not a reputable site. Nevertheless, check Engadget for their review on the two devices that I mentioned.

          I challenge you to name a higher-end Android device than those two at the time of release. There were none on T-Mobile. Sprint had the HTC EVO, Verizon Wireless had the DROID Incredible (arguably on par with the Galaxy S line) and the DROID X came around the same time or shortly thereafter. Even if you throw in the Nexus 1, that still puts the Galaxy S line in the top 5 Android devices at the time of release.

        • Jason

          Engadget did say high end lol
          What were the prices of the top phones not just android?
          I know touch pro 2 were $800, iPhone 3gs were $700ish, HTC evo 4g was $600ish…..Android was still in it infancy then and now android is top os….

          Either way your argument is false prices of the first cell phones were thousands not hundreds…..First smart phones were $700 $800…..
          I mean if I wanted to cherry pick data and say Nexus 5 is $350 and vibrant was $500…..WooHoo I win lol

        • 21stNow

          It’s not false. I stated that I only went back four years, as those are the prices that I am familiar with and can verify.

          If you want to compare Nexus prices, it would have been more valid to compare the price of the Nexus 5 to the original Nexus, as it is cheaper. However, that is more of a function of Google subsidizing Nexus devices once they started selling them in the Play Store rather than anything else.

          You still haven’t named an Android phone that was higher-end than the Vibrant at its time of release.

        • Jason

          I named three Evo 4g, incredible, nexus 1, I could add HD 2 (flashed to android)…
          All which had camera flash ;p

          You are cherry picking data…..Your using a limited time frame…..Your comparing an OS at 2010 that had barely any market share, to now where the OS is a leader in marketshare, your ignoring the fact S5 is top 5 phone period, where the vibrant wasn’t even in top 10 best phones available with any os….

          I can’t cherry pick but you can LOL
          Nexus 5 is cheaper than Vibrant
          Game over he he he jk

        • 21stNow

          I’m not ignoring that the Galaxy S5 is a high-end smartphone. I’m just asserting that the Vibrant was a high-end phone at the time, as well. Many review sites put the Vibrant as a high-end phone. I’m not speaking of sales, even though I disagree with your assessment of the sales of the Vibrant being low. I’m speaking of the phones that were available at the time and common specs. Yes, it was bad that the Vibrant was missing a camera flash, but that didn’t keep it from being a high-end Android device.

        • Jason

          Are you still avoiding the other high end phone prices?
          S1 was priced low because that was what a high end Samsung Android phone was going for at the time…..
          What was starting price of any of the HTC’s? What was the price of iPhone 3g’s, which was market leader at the time?

        • 21stNow

          Nope, not avoiding anything. I have already stated that there were some things that I did not know. There wasn’t another HTC Android phone around the same time as the Vibrant. The G2 came three months later and the MyTouch 4G came four months later. Both were $550 or less at the time of release.

          The iPhone wasn’t on T-Mobile at the time, so I don’t consider it relevant. The iPhone 4 was the model that was a contemporary with the Vibrant, not the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 4 was $650 for the 16GB model, but Apple products have always been at the high end (if not the highest) in terms of prices with comparable phones.

          The price doesn’t determine whether or not the phone is high-end. Nexus devices are high-end phones and even with the unsubsidized price at T-Mobile, the Nexus 5 still sold for under $500 in 2013.

    • Ordeith

      People just need to stop buying $600 phones when a $200 phone will meet their needs.

      • Jason

        People need to stop thinking that they know what other people should choose or decide especially if the choice has no end result towards person being critical…
        Just because budget is your priority it doesn’t mean everyone should use that criteria for their decision….
        People who have bought high end end phones have helped paved way for $200 smart phones…

        • 21stNow

          I disagree. Everyone should look at their budget to decide whether or not they can afford a particular phone. How items in a budget are prioritized is up to the individual, but no one should buy discretionary items that they absolutely cannot afford or would leave some of their needs unpaid for.

        • Jason

          I agree in principal but that’s a very small minority currently ;p

          In reality nobody should buy a expensive house or any luxury automobile’s unless they pay cash up front…..
          Real estate is all about financing unearned money, stocks has money that isn’t real or actual til you cash it out, companies forecast and plan directive’s over money that is in the future…

          Unless your part of the 1%, I suppose they’ll have enough money to get by..smh

          Most people do look at their phone habits and prioritize accordingly….Low volume users typically have lower end phones, high volume have more higher end phones….
          If your trying to state that lower income people shouldn’t have high end devices, thats very classy of you to decide their choice…. /sarcasm

          It’s easy to say but when you test it to reality it sinks….
          That’s means the majority of earth population should walk around buying low grade stuff or nothing their whole life…

          There is epidemic in people aren’t leaving their needs unmet because of a cell phone price, Seriously care to cite something stating someone starved to death because they bought an S5….
          In retrospect people die or suffer because companies use cheap labor to pad the companies profits and because consumers want a bare minimum price…

        • J

          “There isn’t an epidemic in people leaving…..” Correction

        • 21stNow

          You reached for an extreme example of someone starving to death, so I wouldn’t indulge that even if I could. I have, through my professional and personal life, seen people evicted from their homes with 60-inch televisions (not popular over 10 years ago) and tons of other expensive electronic equipment sitting on the curb. Smartphones weren’t popular back then but I have no doubt that there is someone getting evicted today with a $600 phone in his/her pocket. Just in case it isn’t obvious, I do classify housing as a need.

        • TechHog

          The question is, is this as common as you insist it is?

          Though, the fact that you’re in favor of thousands of jobs being lost to save a few bucks on your bill says a lot…

        • 21stNow

          Where did I say that this was common?

          As far as your last comment, we all participate in something that has caused some jobs to be “lost” as consumers in the US. Whether it is shopping at Walmart (leading to small businesses closing and a host of other things), using the self-checkout at the grocery store or buying music online, there is some area of your life where you have done something that has contributed to someone losing his/her job.

        • TechHog

          Notice how you had to put quotation marks around that. You know that it’s not the same thing.

        • 21stNow

          I put quotation marks around it because I was quoting the word that you used. I don’t believe that the jobs would be lost in whatever situation you were referencing any more than in the ones that I listed.

        • TechHog

          The situations you referenced are theoretical or indirect. You were directly talking about intentionally shutting down stores and laying tens of thousands of people off to save $5 per month on your phone bill. Either way, two wrongs don’t make a right. Based on your elitist attitude, I doubt that you need to save money in the first place.

        • 21stNow

          LOL at the elitist attitude. I realize that business environments change. There are two T-Mobile corporate owned stores across the street from each other near where I live with several other stores five miles in each direction. Yes, I think that there are too many stores and as a customer I would rather save the money over keeping all of those stores open.

          When I see you and 10 million of your friends return to buying CDs in physical stores so that one of my former employers can stop closing stores, I’ll believe that there is a difference between you and me. Until then, we are the same.

        • Jason

          Not even remotely….LOL

          The people who make the majority of cellphones today are lucky if they make $2 an hour….If they lose this top notch job it could be the difference between living and dying….
          But poster wants it cheaper better crack the whip!!!!

        • Ordeith

          There are three areas where debt is a necessary evil for most: housing, transportation, education. For the rest use a little discipline and save for what you want. In the end you will have more and be generally better off than you would servicing debt on some obsolete item.

  • RefarmAllPCSnowPlease

    I don’t understand the idea behind the “carrier-free SIM”. Can you explain?

    In an ideal/civilised country, a subscriber pays for a phone/data plan and the carriers gives a sim card. The subscriber is free to put (or not put) the sim into any phone/device. But good luck with locked ones, or those that don’t have the correct band or technology (umts, 2g gsm, lte).

    Now with carrier-free sim, how can a subscriber sign-up for a plan? Can the phone just access any network without subscription?

    Here in US, even if there are sim cards, the carriers do not run out of ways to strangle customers about devices. Both AT&T and T-Mobile ask for IMEI during activation, except AT&T will automatically charge you for the least wanted data plan as soon as it recognises a smartphone (or tablet?) device. T-Mobile does not care after the initial activation.

    Verizon and Sprint however have more to say. The devices have to be “approved” before the account can be activated. What outrages me is that the available plans depend on “what kind of device you have.” The cost per byte clearly varies among “basic phone,” “smartphone,” “tablet,” “connected devices” and “hotspots.” I don’t buy any justifications for the device discrimination.

    Anyway if ever this carrier-free sim come into fruition to US, these carriers can simply say “no, we won’t activate it, you dum*ss m*th*f*r! You better pay for the crippled devices we sell here.”

    What I would want is the long-existing technology called “remote sim” where a phone can lend the sim into another device which may have the latest technology (lte-a), correct bands and better antennas. Of course carriers will do their part to block them, but hey we have a global economy

  • Stupid Idea

    If a SIM card carries the identity of a carrier, then what is the point of getting rid of them? That would be similar to a CDMA non LTE phone. You still need to get authorization somehow to change carriers.. why not just get a new SIM card from the new carrier? Also these SIM cards lead the way for people to possible get onto another network without permission.
    I don’t really approve of this idea.

    • FluX

      I agree with what you said.

    • bob90210

      Because it’s not instant. You need to plan ahead to get the sim card or find somewhere that sells them.

      You will also need a new phone number or wait a few days for your number to be ported.

    • Jason

      It would be to streamline when changing carriers…..
      If all you had to do is call cell operators rather than aquire Sim card it would be cheaper, faster, and less wasteful…
      Sim cards also have downfalls….Sim clones, easier to hack I thought
      I really think it doesn’t matter much because of the split in gsm and CDMA as of now….

  • FluX

    Not really completely on topic, but does the Bridge to Value thing still work? Also how does it work?

    • tmoDave

      Yes. Now stay on topic.

  • Matthew Prendergast

    I am more interested in if carriers would stop being re-sellers of cell phones. I want cell phone manufacturers to advertise and fight for the sale, that would ease alot of financial burdens. There is no need for a carrier to sell a phone. You don’t buy phones from Verizon or ATT when you get home service, you just buy the service. The same should be done with cell phones.

    • Jason

      Cell phones and landline are too different on how they work to compare….
      Any phone can work on landline, cell phone not so….
      Manufacturer’s wouldn’t want to make devices with smaller carriers for fear of losing a ton of money if it doesn’t sell….

      I hate Apple, I hated the exclusivelity pact Att and Apple had but there was an economical advantage for both companies to create a market for the IPhone in the beginning…
      It was easier to create demand and avoid market volatility when the iPhone was new…

  • bob90210

    Carrier-free sim would be great for consumers because they can instantly (or at least quickly) switch among carriers. Instead of an involved process of contacting the carrier, you can pick a service provider right from your phone, enter the payment information, and use it right away (think of paid wifi hotspots). If carrier-free sim were to happen, probably the first uses will be for low population areas that currently have no coverage. Many people will pay 10 bucks an hour for internet on a plane; the same people will pay 10 bucks a day for service at remote location.

    Long term it means that national carriers will not be needed. Just use a regional carrier and if you don’t have service, switch to a different regional carrier.

    • Jason

      Agree but I love the ability to just pop in a Sim card whether its same carrier or not….
      Sim cards are a waste of plastic environmentally but I appreciate it LOL

  • GinaDee

    What we’d really want is for phone companies to get out of the business of selling phones at all. After all one is still tied to T-Mobile (for example) if they are making installment payments on a phone which they couldn’t afford all at once to begin with. The OEM’s could demand a full payment upfront or offer their own financing options for those who qualify.

    This won’t happen anytime soon because there are too many hands in the cookie jar when it comes to chip makers to camera lens providers. Then you have odd-balls like Sprint who require white listed IMEI’s with weird banded spectrum allocations. And lest we not forget how much our carriers like to add their own bloatware which most of us hate and sometimes they give us good stuff like the ability to make calls over Wi-Fi (when it works properly anyway). Finally if carriers couldn’t entice customers with ETF buyout gimmicks some might be hesitant to leave their carrier or sign up with a new one.

    Of course we’ll have to put up with seeing H or H+ instead of fake 4G when outside of an LTE coverage area but still within the confines of 3G but that’s a trade-off most could live with.

    Ideally I’d be able to buy an unlocked phone from Samsung, Apple or Motorola and use it with whichever carrier we’d like. That would truly be “un-carrier.” Data plans should be device agnostic and billing systems should be smart enough to provision any smartphone correctly. Of course we’ll still have those odd-balls who require a corporate data plan for their BlackBerry 7 series devices but a las that group is dying out.

    • bob90210

      You can buy iPhones direct from Apple. You can buy Nexus direct from Google. You can buy HTC One direct from, uh, HTC. It’s not every phone and you still need to do your research to make sure that the phones have compatible frequencies but there are options.

      • 21stNow

        The key part to what GinaDee said was “use it with whichever carrier we’d like”. You can’t take unlocked phones to Verizon Wireless and Sprint, so a customer’s choice is limited right now. That’s more on those two carriers than on the manufacturers, though.

        • Danny Lewis

          I am still impressed with the Nexus 5. It is the only phone that you can use on either Sprint, AT&T, or T-Mobile. I believe the only reason Verizon didn’t play ball was their fear that people would attempt to keep their unlimited data.

        • Pitahson

          The iPhone 5s and 5c Verizon edition is the only one that can be used with Verizon, att and T-Mobile

    • Stone Cold

      Well said GD.

    • Jason

      I agree to most but if just buying thru manufacturer your limiting choice for each the carrier and customer….
      Carriers at least deserve the choice of what phones are used on THEIR networks….
      Customer’s would be locked into buying directly
      from manufactuer….
      Big box retailers allow for a market that doesn’t make manufacturer have to shoulder retail exspenses to sell product in their own stores…That helps bring price down…

      Price would also be higher over time because carriers buy in bulk and that would eliminate that capital gained and innovation would suffer….
      Majority of consumers still buy products in person with product present at brick and motar stores…..

  • UMA_Fan

    Tmobile has done a good job of changing the industry and educating consumers without making the carrier irrelevant. Jump, for example, gives customers huge incentives to stay with a carrier

    • RLB63

      If you buy from other than Tmobile then you won’t get the Wi-Fi calling that only T-Mobile offers

      • UMA_Fan

        That really isn’t tmobiles fault. For example, there’s nothing stopping apple or Google for adding WiFi calling support to their devices they just don’t care/want to.

        • Jason

          Spot on, WiFi calling is built into the framework of the device’s OEM ROM and I don’t think even XDA has been able to port WiFi calling using another ROM base on any device….

        • kalel33

          They used to until T-mobile changed the protocols. I used to run Cyanogenmod on my Mytouch 4G and still had WIFI calling, because I just sideloaded the WIFI calling app.

        • Jason

          Never knew that, I wish I have dead spots within my townhome…
          WiFi calling is buggy but would rather have an option to use….
          I wonder what changed….

  • Fr0stTr0n

    There is a better chance that O.J Simpson will find the “real” killer then a uncarrier USA

    • Jason

      Your on fire !!!
      I think you are tied for 1st place with yourself for most idiotic non relevant topic post ;)
      OJ Simpson, TMobile, uncarrier, there is totally a connection there!

      • Fr0stTr0n

        Your sarcasm, sucks ass it does.

        • Jason

          Did it suck you in then?

        • Fr0stTr0n


  • Mirad77

    Not in this “capitalist” market and the way these companies have congress by their ball$.

  • kalel33

    “expanding coverage at ridiculous pace”

    What expansion have they done? They’ve definitely improved the network but there hasn’t been an expansion of the native footprint.

    • Jason

      I think quoted comment was directed at LTE network being deployed….
      Expanding and improving are very similar when making statements on network coverage….
      Native coverage hasn’t expanded much but it’s little paticular to claim Can made a misstatement….

      • kalel33

        Expanding and improving are are not synonymous nor similar with each other. If a restaurant chain remodels all their restaurants but doesn’t open any new locations then you can’t claim they’ve expanded their locations at a ridiculous pace . They just enhanced the businesses they already have. Now you could say they expanded their remodeling at a ridiculous pace and that could be correct.

        If you walked up to someone and told them that a network’s coverage has been expanded at a ridiculous pace but that the coverage area remains the same then you’d get a “huh?” look, because it doesn’t make sense.

        • Jason

          Hence the part about LTE….
          Also making the description pertaining to network coverage….
          So you compare it a restaurant…
          TMobile has
          Do some you even read before and what you write?
          Even if you said it right to an average person they be like huh….
          Most people don’t know the difference between network technologies…. ROFL

          TMobile has expanded their LTE network but native coverage remains the same, WAS THAT TOO DIFFICULT?

        • kalel33

          “Do some you even read before and what you write?”

          Do you? Irony at it’s finest

        • Jason

          You like that? LOL
          You start to dumb down after responding to so many postings that are just idiotic and unnecessary…
          Half of the people commenting don’t even read the article, 10% are here to just troll, and we always have to have atleast one person trying to question or get the upper hand on Cam in his articles….. Ahem

    • philyew

      If he had said “expanding LTE coverage at ridiculous pace”, you would have rightly ignored it and had to find something else to snipe at, kalel ;-)

      The fact that he didn’t include “LTE” doesn’t make the statement incorrect, merely a little ambiguous.

  • NardVa

    Buying a phone off contract is still tough for most people due to the latest and greatest costing $600 or more. Even under T-Mobile’s structure the phone is still high even though it is paid out over 24 months. We need to see more high end phones under $400 off contract.

    • kalel33

      There’s quite a selection of really good phones available for under $400: Moto X, Moto G, Nexus 5, and the soon to come out One Plus. Going from any of those phones to $600 or more has diminishing returns, because the differences would be hard for the average person to justify if they didn’t have branding on any of them.

      • NardVa

        I agree. All the phones you mentioned are great phones for a great price. I think we need to see the phones that get all the marketing like the GS5 and the HTC One(M8) go for under $400. The popular high demand phones still go for $600 or more.

        • ABCDE

          That’s because they are “popular high demand phones.”

          You are going to pay top dollar for the latest version of a handset. Especially the ones that are hyped the most. Instead of complaining about the price, consumers need to try buying with their means.

          I can’t even begin to tell you how many people come in asking about upgrades or Jump with suspended or past due accounts.

        • 21stNow

          As much as I want to see handset prices come down, I still want there to be a high-end market. It can be like the car market, where there is a place for Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz.

  • Bryck2003

    I know it’s off subject but, I have a Samsung galaxy S4 with a custom ROM, would I be able to Jump even though its been modified?

    thanks in advance.

    • David

      Yes they don’t care as long as it starts up, not cracks and no water. Just did it yesterday.

      • Bryck2003

        Thanks man.

  • Winski

    No shouting…BUT, if the US went to a carrier-Free SIM, that would only bring the US back to where the rest of the planet has been for a decade… DUH…

    Legere seems to be the only mobile carrier management that got the memo…

    • Underwater Ops

      The US is way behind Europe in technology, consumer protections, and privacy. Very strange that. It seems we’ve become a corpacracy. Government of, by, and for the benefit of the corporations.

      • Winski

        Seems so…!!!

      • TylerCameron

        Not technology. The US is WAY ahead of Europe in network technology while having much larger land mass.

        • Mirad77

          No my friend, the US is way ahead in propaganda tech wise than Europe. Just look a Verizon’s network, they are the best but can barely keep a constant 40mbps download speed on LTE.

  • Tom Bryant

    Why not homogenize the networks, equal coverage everywhere, and have one “non-carrier”. But where’s the competition? Handsets. Let the competition be on hardware and not network.

    Pipe dream level infinity, I know…

    • Mark

      We had something analogous to that at one time. It was even called AT&T, but it used a little bell in a circle rather than a Death Star for its logo.

  • TechHog

    Oh look, Cam giving Apple undue praise.

    • Guest

      Hey look some douchebag critiquing someone else’s opinion.

      • Austin

        I would make an account just to downvote you.

  • Mirad77

    Not likely to happen given the strong grip cooperations have on Congress’s ball$.

  • dd23

    I wish at&t would do everything T-Mobile has done I like at&t service but hate there prices,my mom still has her galaxy s4 with them I got tmobile I saw the difference here in LA right away … It was not good but hey im paying alot less than what I paid on at&t and have UNLIMITED data something at&t didnt have. Oh well I can live with having no signal inside malls ..

    • Ordeith

      AT&T did. They called it AIO wireless.

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        Except unthrottled unlimited

        I also lacks features that post paid has. Features that are present in prepaid and postpaid tmobile plans

        • Ordeith

          ok, and that 2% of impactful users that make using T-Mobile a poor experience even when I can get coverage can continue to pay an exorbitant amount to T-Mobile for the privilege.
          Carrier billing for apps is the only feature I am aware of that may be missing from AIO, and that really isn’t a big deal for me. Is it for you?

      • dd23

        Only problem I didnt get aio which is available here in LA already was it dont work in mexico were as tmobile which I have now does and has free international data.

        • TechHog

          Please use periods…

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    No they make too much money now to ever do this

  • Underwater Ops

    I just upgraded my phones on AT&T. And got badly burned. Despite assurances when I ordered the phones that my plan wouldn’t change and my monthly fee would stay the same, they upped it $55, sending me the bill after my 14 day cancellation period was up.
    So, I paid off the four lines (it was considerably cheaper), and jumped to T-Mobile. My monthly bill is $125 less for the same 4 lines, but half the data (okay – since I never used more than 1/5th the data allotted anyway).
    We’ll see how this goes.

    • Nurdface Gamerhandz

      and bumping the data up will only cost you $40 for all four lines anyway

  • Underwater Ops

    As for me, I love the T-Mobile model. I can afford to buy the phones unlocked (I always have, and allowing AT&T to provide the phone for once was a mistake.) I plan to stay off contract in the future.

  • Sean

    Somebody explain the benefit here. It’s not like sim cards are prohibitively expensive.

    • Nurdface Gamerhandz

      say ATT (or tmo, or Verizon, etc) pisses you off. Imagine being able to call a competitor and say “here’s my ICCID and IMEI, sign me up” and by the time the call ended, you were on new service. It’d be a heavy driver for customer satisfaction