SIM cards for Freerunner (was Free Runner price vs iphone 3G price)

Kevin Dean kevin at
Thu Jun 12 20:44:36 CEST 2008

On Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 12:11 PM, Stroller <linux.luser at> wrote:
> On 12 Jun 2008, at 03:19, Kevin Dean wrote:
>> On Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 7:35 PM, Joe Pfeiffer
>> <joseph at> wrote:
>>>  If I don't get a phone, I shouldn't have to pay for one.
>> Walk into T-Mobile or AT&T and  buy a phone and sign up for a
>> contract. Write down how much you pay. Walk out, put that phone in
>> your car and walk back into the store and sign up for the same
>> contract without a phone. Write THAT price down. Compare and you'll
>> see they're the same.
> I think your replies to this thread started when I said "OMG!
> WTF!?!?!?" in reply to a statement like that.
> Here in the UK the prices would certainly NOT be the same.
> Checking AT&T's website it does indeed seem the situation is
> different in the US. I went to the website, clicked the "shop for
> tariffs" ("shop for plans"?) link and was unable to complete the
> checkout process without selecting a handset. To a European, this
> seems about as antiquated as being required to rent your landline
> handset from the phone company (which indeed was the case when I was
> a child, 25 years ago).

I'm surprised that AT&T doesn't list that on their site. I honestly
haven't checked their (or T-Mobile, my provider of choice) website for
being able to do that. The thing is, people frequently go "Cell
carriers are doing this abusive thing!" and that gets me a bit
annoyed. It is more common to buy the phone/service bundle, but it's
not the ONLY way to. I went to T-Mobile this weekend to purchase a SIM
card for my Freerunner and the only question asked was "Is it
unlocked" (ensuring it's "compatible"). There was a SNAFU there
because this was a newly opened store who didn't have the activation
kits, but it was a service they clearly offered and even have
pamphlets in their holders.

>> You're not arguing you shouldn't have to pay for a phone, you're
>> arguing that you should be allowed to dictate the level of profit
>> someone else's company is able to make on transactions.
> Hmmmn... IMO you're taking Mr Pfeiffer's "should" a bit literally here.
> Certainly from my point of view, I am astounded at the opportunity
> the US carriers appear to be missing out on. They could easily
> advertise "got a handset from your old contract? Save 25% on you
> monthly bills - try our new SIM-only tariffs!" Think of how the
> customers would come flocking to them.

There are other logistical issues to that, and while it's slowly
changing, it's not possible to ignore them. In most of Europe, GSM is
"standard". In the US, two of the four largest cellular providers use
CDMA so for most people making that claim would come with so many
caveats that it would be hard to handle even in the best case. In
Verizon's case, for instance, they will be transitioning to GSM from
CDMA "soon". It would be a bit counter productive for them to
encourage people to bring their existing phones over to a network when
they're phasing down that very technology.

There's also the fact that most people are in a contract. There would
have to be SIGNIFIGANT savings to justify most of that for customers.
Typical early termination fees are between $150 and $300 per handset.
A 25% monthly savings on my plan would save me very little money in
the long run ($150 cancellation fee per handset and my plan is a
family plan where my wife and I share minutes. To cancel that service,
I'd need to terminate 2 phones, costing me $300 for a two year savings
of $360).

There's also the consumerist mentality here. I'm not sure if it exists
in the UK, or if so, how strongly, but it is common (especially among
the younger demographic) to change phones frequently to have "the
latest and greatest". It's the same reason the iPhone 2 is going to
sell despite the fact that the iPhone is still "functional" and even
still leading the pack in terms of appeal.

> The scenario you describe means that whenever one finishes one's
> contract the old mobile phone is garbage. It's chucked away and
> becomes landfill. I can't see how this benefits anyone except the
> foreign manufacturers of phones. The carriers have to stock,
> inventory & finance handset stock, and the consumer ends up paying
> more. It just seems insane to me, and that's what surprised me.

As I said above, in many many many cases it is the phone, NOT the
cellular service, that gets people interested in service. AT&T wasn't
particularly appealing but the iPhone WAS. There are some pragmatic
people who buy a phone and use it until it dies. A large chunk upgrade
their phones before their contracts expire for some new or improved
feature, or because it comes in a new color. Even when two carriers
have the same phone models, there are often "exclusives" - Verizon had
a pink RAZR for a year before anyone else did for instance.

> (OTOH: I now understand that the iPhone truly does only cost $199, if
> one prefers monthly billing to PAYG SIM cards).

Perhaps that's another difference that matters. Trying to buy my SIM
this past weekend, even though they sold them, there was some
confusion - they're sold so infrequently here that it was a noteworthy
event. Having to not manage minutes is a very convenient thing for me
and if not for wanting to test the Freerunner and the 1973 at the same
time, I'd have zero real incentive to go prepaid. That sentiment is
most common here, though there are good reasons to do an "as you go"

> Stroller.
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