Ming the Mechanic:
Honest companies, cell phones

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Honest companies, cell phones2001-08-20 14:32
by Flemming Funch

It would be nice when at some point companies will realize that they and their customers are all best served is they're honest about what they have to offer, how it works, how it is different from similar products, etc. At this point companies are still mostly trying to deceive the public, emphasizing stuff that really makes no difference, and hiding the facts that really do make a difference in one's purchasing decisions. There are some clues they really need to get, and in the longer run, it will only be companies who get it who will stay in business, I think. Anyway, I spent a few hours shopping for cell phones, which is what made me a bit frustrated with the current situation.

In most of the world there are standards for cell phone service, and similar features are available from most providers, and also between different providers, and you can take your phone from country to country without much of a problem. In the U.S. it is quite a big mess. And the companies themselves say very little about service they're actually offering and how well it works with other services.

Europe and most of the rest of the world works on the GSM standard in the 900MHz and sometimes 1800MHz band. Most countries have roaming agreements, so one's phone will work pretty much anywhere. GSM has some common features, like SMS which is for sending small messages to each other on cell phones. That is hugely popular in Europe.

The U.S. uses several different standards. CDMA, TDMA and GSM. None of them work with each other, and different providers use different standards. Which one they use is not something they particularly mention on their public websites. Industry watcher websites and cellphone owner communty websites are giving the info about that kind of thing, but not the companies.

Several U.S. providers offer two-way text messages, but they aren't using the SMS standard and will mostly only work with other phones from the same provider.

GSM in the U.S. uses a different frequency, 1900MHz than the other countries, so the same phones don't just work in both places. But there are dual-band or tri-band "world phones" that will work in multiple places.

So, if I wanted one phone to work in multiple countries, I'd be best served with a multi-band GSM phone. The biggest GSM provider in the U.S. is Cingular, and they also seem the most friendly in terms of telling the customers what they offer, and having user-friendly features, like downloading new ring tones, etc. Only trouble with them is that they don't necessarily have the best reception, and also they have the most expensive rates for roaming overseas.

Anyway, seems like I'll go with them and get an Ericsson T28 world phone. Which I'll need to figure out how to "unlock", so that it isn't tied to the Cingular service. And then, when overseas, I'll use some of the other providers which can sell me a rechargable chip with cheaper minutes on it.

My general point here is that it is totally unacceptable that companies are selling stuff that they don't tell us what is. You'll run into that with most products that are technical and complex. Why would one car company have 30 different models to choose from? Is it just to make us think we have a choice, or are there different pros and cons with each? What did the designers have in mind? Why were the different models made? What tradeoffs are made in them?

Manufacturers seem to mostly hate the idea that the customers could have a big chart comparing features and quality and prices across many different products. So that kind of thing typically is assembled by consumer groups of clubs of enthusiasts. And it might take a while to find out who has done so.

What those companies aren't realizing yet is that more and more people are making their decisions from researching the net and finding those charts that compare the actual qualities of products, and the testimonies from the users of the products. And the lies in the ads mean less and less.

Btw, for completeness as to the phone systems, two other countries than the U.S. have unique cell phone systems, Japan and Korea. Each of which uses different systems that are incompatible with any other systems. When I went to Korea last year I rented a Korean standard phone from a U.S. company before I left, which worked quite well.

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10 Sep 2001 @ 04:11 by istvan : Standardisation
This is a good idea Flemig.
I would like to see technology in general moove toward more standardisation. It is a technology jungle out there created and maintained by commercial profiteering methods.
For example: Yhere are more than 455 different power supplies for various gadgets and aquipment we use daily. These power supplies differ in voltage,polarity,size,and shape specifified for your equipment.How many hours have you spent trying to find the right powe supply. I have spent many hours doing that and finally ended up junking the thing.
Power sulies are just one problem.
Each company makes components that perform the same function, but just slightly different in shape or size to make it impossible to use generally.
Think about how much $, energy,time,frustration,environment etc. could be saved by standardisation.
The tecnology is there, but not used to achive stanardised sokutions.
Corporate greed prevents User friendly devices, after all the te gross national product index must grow by forcing you to spend your money and you must enslave yourself to work to make that money.
Look around your house, office,city and note the things could be made more user friendly. Dream up solutions, and take action buy buying standardised component compatible devices.
I would really like to work with other people on projects of User Friendly Solutions.  

10 Sep 2001 @ 04:15 by istvan : spellcecker
I wish you could add a spechecker.I could not get back to the message co correct.  

21 Sep 2001 @ 06:44 by sharie : my solution
Because I enjoy feeling and knowing and sharing my inner world, I don't concern myself with the "trappings" of the outer world. I don't want my life to be about racing to beat of their drum. What benefits do you gain from that? I truly want to know.  

21 Sep 2001 @ 22:51 by ming : Beating to others drum
Well, the problem comes in when one goes out and starts using all the facilities available in the world, and one then becomes subject to the problems and hidden rules they carry with them. I like to communicate effectively, so I use computers and cell phones. I could have chosen not to. But then we wouldn't even be here having this conversation, because I wouldn't have made this program, and I wouldn't be here. So, I guess I've decided that it is worth the trouble to put up with computers in order to get what I want.  

22 Sep 2001 @ 16:10 by sharie : Wherever you go, there you are...
Yes, I agree with using the internet to communicate, and using computers to assist with our work. I have a cell phone, but I gave up using it because the internet is so much easier for me, and I also gave up flying around, travelling around so much. That's what I was asking about... why you feel you need to travel so much. That's a funny question, but I guess that's what it comes down to. BTW, feel free to delete my comments from your News Log if you'd like.  

22 Sep 2001 @ 23:21 by ming : Traveling
I normally don't travel much. But I've recently decided to try to go to a conference of some kind every month, in order to get out and see people in different areas more, and to be exposed to more. It stimulates me to experience different views and to meet new people, so I'm trying to get over my own inertia which would otherwise let me just sit at home and work. It makes a big difference to meet people personally, as compared with just knowing people online, and often creates deeper relations.  

6 Jul 2006 @ 20:23 by samuel sarkodie @ : hello
can u send me one of your products  

19 Dec 2014 @ 21:43 by Maria @ : hYWQMPYyIWOYKC
Tanq Petkova казва:Zdraveite, vaprosat mi e sleqnidt da6terq mi e na dve godini s diagnoza dalekogledstvo + 2dioptara i na dvete o4i i vroden stabizam, imate li kato razmer o4ilca za dechica na tazi vazrast i smqtate li 4e biha pomognali v neiniqt slu4ai  

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