Follow us:

Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

August 22, 2007 at 2:43 PM

Is Europe really more advanced?

When it comes to well-made, fine leather Italian shoes, maybe.

But cellphones?

Definitely not.

The American Consumer Institute studied whether Europe was in fact more advanced when it came to wireless technology. It concluded that the U.S. is ahead.

“International statistics suggests that the U.S. wireless market, in fact, leads its European counterparts, and the U.S. wireless market, compared to Europe, appears to be more competitive and vibrant,” the study’s summary said.

I thought maybe the The American Consumer Institute was paid to conduct the survey on behalf of the U.S. cellphone industry, but it claims that’s not the case.

“No — we are a 501(c) (3) nonprofit educational and research group and do not conduct paid-for research,” a spokesman said. “The study just tests a common belief that the U.S. lags Europe. It uses widely available empirical evidence in its analysis. The result somewhat of a surprise to me too. It could be Europe once had a lead and it has vanished, but the belief has remained.”

The question is an important one, especially as the FCC is evaluating how to make the wireless market even more competitive, so that innovation can move even faster.

The study cites multiple sources and suggests there are actually more wireless operators (155) in the U.S. than in most countries, and that even though the top three carriers have a majority of U.S. subscribers, there’s still a lower concentration than in other countries.

The study then tries to answer the question: If the U.S. market is not as concentrated as its European counterparts, could it still operate as a “cozy cartel,” effectively driving up consumer prices and restricting supply?

Once again, the answer was no.

The average price of a minute is far less in the U.S. than in other countries. In Germany, it was about 27 cents a minute. In the U.S., it’s closer to 7 cents. Only one country was listed as cheaper — Hong Kong at about 4 cents.

However, in Europe customers get billed for making a phone call, whereas the person receiving the call does not get billed. In the U.S., we pay for both types.

An independent study found that even though this is the case, the minutes are still cheaper in the U.S. than in all European countries.

Check out the report here.

Comments | More in Wireless & telecom

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►