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EU Lets You Cap Your Maximum Mobile Data Bill
Protecting users from ridiculous monthly roaming charges...
by Karl Bode 02:09PM Monday Mar 01 2010
Every few months we'll see a story where a user receives a roaming bandwidth bill that requires a second mortgage, because they didn't understand how much wireless data they were consuming. One contingent of our users argue consumers are stupid and deserve bankruptcy for not being able to navigate overage fees. Another group argues that carriers don't do a very good job of notifying consumers of abnormal account activity (common among credit card users).


While users should read their contracts, understand carrier overage fees and roaming surcharges, there's a disconnect somewhere in the customer education and alert process. At the very least, it seems like carriers could both call and SMS users before their bill enters the luxury automobile price range.

In the European Union, regulators have stepped in and imposed new restrictions that will help users cap their monthly wireless data bills. As of July 1, mobile broadband users in Europe must choose a maximum monthly cost they want to pay for mobile data. When they get close to 80% of that total, the carrier sends out a warning, then temporarily suspends the user's service when they reach their spending cap. If users don't choose a limit, a limit of $68 per month is set for them (that's data only, and doesn't include voice minutes or other bill totals). The move is part of a regulatory effort in the EU to tackle insane roaming costs:
quote:
By setting a monthly Internet limit, the European Commission hopes that "the tendency for operators will be to bring the price of surfing the Web down," EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said. Neelie Kroes, the new EU digital issues commissioner, called the new measure a step in "building customers' confidence to surf the Internet when traveling in Europe." Network operators can now charge each other no more than 1euro per megabyte for downloading. National telecoms regulators are responsible for enforcing the rules with mobile phone operators, and the EU commission will report on the issue by June 2011.
It seems highly unlikely carrier-friendly regulators here in the States would impose such restrictions, though you wonder how many more stories about consumers with $20,000 bandwidth bills we'll see before somebody tries. The move comes on the heels of new price caps for roaming charges imposed last summer by European regulators, which have translated into a 35 percent drop in the average cell phone bill for Europeans.

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jus10

join:2009-08-04
Sterling, VA

Nifty

That's ... brilliant.

Can we just Xerox the law on the west side of the pond and get that dropped into our service? It makes perfect sense.

fonzbear2000
Premium
join:2005-08-09
Saint Paul, MN

Re: Nifty

said by jus10:

That's ... brilliant.

Can we just Xerox the law on the west side of the pond and get that dropped into our service? It makes perfect sense.
I totally agree.
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J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
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Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..
said by jus10:

That's ... brilliant.

Can we just Xerox the law on the west side of the pond and get that dropped into our service? It makes perfect sense.
Agreed! Though I have never had issues, I would hate to see what happens if an accident occured..like your kids getting a hold of the phone.
--
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burgerwars

join:2004-09-11
Northridge, CA
It makes sense, but who knows if the providers here will relent on such restrictions saying it's too much "government regulation." They prefer to let the meter run when a poor unknowing sole is roaming while watching streaming video of their favorite movies. Then they'll bill them broke claiming the customer owes them more money than their mortgage. They'll clean out the customer by getting what money they can.

This is what they call "capitalism."
NeoandGeo

join:2003-05-10
Harrison, TN

Re: Nifty

300 million poor
5 million rich
nevtxjustin

join:2006-04-18
Dallas, TX
said by jus10:

Can we just Xerox
No, because Xerox will git their panties in a wad for improper use of a trademarked name. But you can "photocopy" it. heh heh heh

sapo
Cruising Down Memory Lane
Premium
join:2002-09-16
Sacramento, CA
kudos:1

Re: Nifty

Why would Xerox complain about free marketing.
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Purple Drink
nevtxjustin

join:2006-04-18
Dallas, TX

Re: Nifty

Good question...Why should the RIAA complain about free advertising of a song when used in a supermarket as background music.

sapo
Cruising Down Memory Lane
Premium
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Sacramento, CA
kudos:1

1 edit

Re: Nifty

Not even close to the same thing. A company representing another companies work is much different compared to a companies name being used in a generic manner. Another relevant example would be saying Kleenex instead of tissues.

Anyway, this is basic stuff that even wiki has info for. Here is a list of goods that are no longer legally like protected like Xerox and Kleenex.

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ge···ademarks
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Badonkadonk
Premium
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Naperville, IL
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Trademark dilution. If you don't try to enforce your mark, it becomes generic and you lose it.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
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Or Google instead of Search.

menumorut
BE an American.

join:2005-07-04
Queens Village, NY
said by jus10:

That's ... brilliant.

Can we just Xerox the law on the west side of the pond and get that dropped into our service? It makes perfect sense.
If users don't choose a limit, a limit of $68 per month is set for them...

90% of users are going to choose this option given that most of the users expect the government to read and explain the contract that they sign with their mobile provider.

This is a typical EU "let the government take care of us, they know better and has our best interest at heart" that is so widely accepted in Europe.

Carriers in EU can not even spec a decent phone terminal for the elderly (the oversimplified type).
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jhboricua
ExMod 2000-01
join:2000-06-06
Minneapolis, MN

Re: Nifty

said by menumorut:

This is a typical EU "let the government take care of us, they know better and has our best interest at heart" that is so widely accepted in Europe.
Because the typical US "let the corporation take care of us, they know better and has our best interest at heart" that is so widely accepted here is soooooooo much better, right?
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menumorut
BE an American.

join:2005-07-04
Queens Village, NY

Re: Nifty

said by jhboricua:

Because the typical US "let the corporation take care of us, they know better and has our best interest at heart" that is so widely accepted here is soooooooo much better, right?
Lesser of two evils.

Have you tried lifestyle by government?

Move to EU try it and then post back.

I have. And I would take US competitive and incentive based market than the socialist one.
(It´s funny that many people strongly defend that the grass is greener on the other side but no one actually steps up to touch it or see it up close and personal.Talk is cheap!!!)

Worry not, if the health care reform passes you will start to feel one aspect of the "beautiful" Euro-pee-on lifestyle (and wait 6 months to be poorly attended).

Oh! Did I mention I was born in EU. Yes, is thaaat bad.
--
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ReneMH2

@omcastbusiness.net

Re: Nifty

"and wait 6 months to be poorly attended"

that's a stupid and debunked right wing talking point. Happens that i lived 34 years in Switzerland and that i had a near deadly accident at 17. Care was exceptional and my parent didn't pay a dime. The worst wait i ever had for a doctor was 3 days for a non emergency.

menumorut
BE an American.

join:2005-07-04
Queens Village, NY

Re: Nifty

See!!You just want to play a politics games, left against right and so on.
Switzerland is not EU (it is on the continent but voted in referendum against admission to the Union), maybe thats why your care was so good.
Also Switzerland citizens are full fledge members of a militia and keep all their military grade weaponry at home (a very no-no in European Union).

There are "pockets" of countries that can teach a thing or two to US I agree, but these countries choose not to became part of EU venture for a reason not to be diluted in this failed experiment.

At lest you din not use the Principality of Andorra in your example.

If you think EU is so great, look at the P.I.G.S. countries where the average monthly salary is 900€ and the police will smack you around (I´m not even going to touch Eastern Europe).

I would mention the example of a acquaintance that had a arm tendon cut off at birth (she was delivered via cesarean) and did not get a dime or apology from the government run health care (she is now disabled for the rest of her life) but I am afraid that you will pegged this as political propaganda.
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MrHappy316
Wish I had my tank
Premium
join:2003-01-02
Monterey, CA
Were becoming too much of a litigious society. To even read most of the contracts I sign I need a lawyer. And thats what lawyers want for us as citizens not to understand a thing of what were reading and needing another lawyer to explain it to us. It's total crap, I understand the simple parts (ie.don't exceeded xxx minutes and xxx data and no use in foreign country unless you want to pay mega bucks) but why our lawyers making our society like this. Hell sometimes even the judges dont understand and need lawyers of their own to figure it out.

menumorut
BE an American.

join:2005-07-04
Queens Village, NY

Re: Nifty

That´s very true.
But you don´t burn the house down because the roof is leaking.
You just change a few shingles (or a lot in this case).
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SSX4life
Hello World
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1 edit

2 recommendations

Data is not scarce

Any time you make data scarce you can treat it as a commodity. Look.... the data boogie man isn't going to jump out and gobble up all the 1's and 0's from a network.

Stop charging more for the same crap 5 years ago. We all know you are doing it to line your pockets and NOT upgrade your network.


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fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

1 recommendation

Re: Data is not scarce

Wireless data isn't scarce?

That's a good thing to know... so if that's the case, let's roll it out to everyone.. then lets see how scarce it is.

The fact remains, wireless data capacity still needs to be expanded. The problem right now is that it's still an under supplied network - same as wireless voice back in the late 80's early 90's. There is a reason why wireless charges so much for voice minutes and overages.. If not, everyone would simply jump on to the wireless networks and over load them.

Wireless communications still remains a luxury as it stands. The ONLY way to control this kind of a service is to put a fee on certain use - just as they do wireless. There is a reason why there are nights and weekend rates that are often less or free. It's becuase the network is used FAR less on those rate times so more people can use them. (Ie: the business world generally drops off at 5pm leaving more room for personal users)

The wireless internet, which to be honest largely didn't exist 5 years ago, has become far more advanced than what it used to be AND far less expensive. Not to mention, those 1's and 0's are still 1's and 0's.. there are just more of them being moved across the lines.

There is still room for them to grow.. they do need to upgrade and prices will continue to drop as access continues to expand.

They ARE expanding their networks.. they aren't simply lining their pockets.. not sure where you're coming up with that notion. Sounds more like a rant than anything factual to be honest.

SSX4life
Hello World
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1 recommendation

Re: Data is not scarce

said by fiberguy:

They ARE expanding their networks.. they aren't simply lining their pockets.. not sure where you're coming up with that notion. Sounds more like a rant than anything factual to be honest.
I don't want to get into a battle of wits here so lets lay some ground rules shall we?

#1. yes there are more bits flying across networks now than there were 10 or even 5 years ago

#2. Yes there is still room to grow

#3. Yes more individuals have access to wireless internet or data plans than ever before

however.....

#4. Carriers haven't upgraded their networks to keep up with demand like they should have (or continue to have). This has been documented many times before

#5. Remember the early 90's when the ISP's and wireless carriers got a big chunk of money from the fed to upgrade their network(s) but instead decided to turn tail and just pocket the cash? yea..

Ok your turn =) Yes I agree with you on principal, but come on now. Please realize that they have in the past tried to squeeze blood from a turnip (consumers) by making something appear to be scarce.
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fiberguy
My views are my own.
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join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Data is not scarce

I don't do debate rules.. I stick to facts. Debate rules are what presidential candidates use and you can see where that gets us, right?

Carries are updating their networks - that's pretty obvious. Are they keeping up with demand? Maybe not, but demand is also outpacing the upgrades. Demand can easily out-pace physical system upgrades AND available technology. Right now, I don't blame them for not wanting to do TOO much as new technology is around the corner. People forget this little fact many times.

If you want a carrier to upgrade capacity at current technology simply to expand capacity when new tech is around the corner, you're going to not see a drop in rates, rather, you're going to see rates hold or go up. This argument is used many times for cable. People don't understand why the DOCSIS 1.1 carriers aren't upping to 2 when 3 was right on the horizon.. it makes no sense.

And, back in the 90's.... that's 10 years ago, but okay.. networks were upgraded.. were they not? I think since then, many phone providers have upgraded their networks... many have expanded DSL access with remote terminals.. att is launching uverse.. verizon is dropping Fiber... cable has dramatically upgraded their networks... so how do you not account for that? Cellular companies most definitely have upgraded their networks as well.. why do you think we have unlimited calling plans now? Those started out at about $100 a month and are now down to $69 a month with seconds lines at $45 Those price drops are a sign of increased capacity. Cellular companies price their rates based on what the system can handle as well as market place prices.

I'm sorry to say this, but the truth is the truth.. they can't simply expand access all over the place and give people all they can use right now becuase people will go nuts and use more than they really need which in itself creates over loaded networks. Anytime a metered plan goes to unlimited, people will gobble it up and not care what they use and how they use it.. so we're not even there yet. If that's a sign of not enough capacity, then I'm sorry.. but it's the truth. We've been here many times.

I still don't see how you've not seen upgrades.. just becuase you don't get the published reports doens't mean they're not being done, becuase they have.

I think you're looking at this from a very narrow perspective of a "consumer" who just doesn't see it the way you want to...

The most simple of facts I can give you is that cellular use has exploded in the last 10 years.. if they have not increased capacity in 10 years, do you think that the industry would be able to keep up with the explosion of use? no... think about it.

And, data.. there is still an issue of ROAMING at large here.. and that's never going to change for a long time.. networks don't have "nationwide coverage" of their own.. they have sharing agreements.. that makes up the illusion of a "nationwide network".. still, they're buying and trading time from one network to another.. unless and until they have true nationwide coverage, which would honestly be a complete waste of money, you're going to run into snags from time to time.

I'm sorry to say this.. but when I read and try to "listen" to your post, it reminds me of my mother and her car when ever it breaks down, or she simply wants to use it, she thinks that "it should just work when ever, and where ever she wants it to"... and that's just a reality of life that isn't.

RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

Re: Data is not scarce

said by fiberguy:

And, data.. there is still an issue of ROAMING at large here.. and that's never going to change for a long time.. networks don't have "nationwide coverage" of their own.. they have sharing agreements.. that makes up the illusion of a "nationwide network".. still, they're buying and trading time from one network to another.. unless and until they have true nationwide coverage, which would honestly be a complete waste of money, you're going to run into snags from time to time.
The problem with ROAMING is that you can get charged for it even when it has no cost to either your home or the remote network. As you note the actual cost is usually covered by the peering agreements (or equivalent). The only actual cost is when customers of CellCo 1 do more data roaming on CellCo 2's network than CellCo 2's users do on CellCo 1's network. Otherwise the amounts balance and it is as if all the usage was by the users of the connected-to's network.
cghh

join:2001-01-15
Milpitas, CA

1 edit

Real-time checks possible?

I don't know if the following point is still relevant, but in the past anyway, the argument U.S. providers (the CDMA ones, anyway) made against real-time data limits was that roaming partners submitted their bills to the caller's provider in batch mode, sometimes up to 30 days after the charge was incurred. So your provider doesn't know you have gone over until long after the charge was incurred. The situation may well be different in the EU, given the tight integration of roaming in GSM networks.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
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kudos:3

Re: Real-time checks possible?

I like the fact they're allowing you to cap your use.. but they've always been able to do this.

It's always been simple for them to simply send notices to you letting you know you're coming close to your monthly limits. They can and have done it with the voice side.

Further, since the weak link seems to be on roaming, maybe users should simply have the ability to stop roaming on other networks like you can your cell phone.

Additionally, they need to stop acting like roaming is any different than voice.. it's not. Users from various networks roam.. Provider A has users that roam on Provider B, and the same in reverse... I don't see what the big deal is.

Not to mention, when it comes to roaming, the hardware should be able to tell you this information anyway.. you shouldn't need the provider's network or email servers to tell the end user of this information.

FFH5
Premium
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Tavistock NJ
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Re: Real-time checks possible?

said by fiberguy:

Further, since the weak link seems to be on roaming, maybe users should simply have the ability to stop roaming on other networks like you can your cell phone.
I can turn off data roaming on my Sprint Palm Pre phone.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Real-time checks possible?

Yup... can do that on my phones as well... but, I can say that I'm not sure I can do that on my MiFi from Sprint.. and I think that gets a lot of people in trouble as well.
cghh

join:2001-01-15
Milpitas, CA
said by fiberguy:

Additionally, they need to stop acting like roaming is any different than voice.. it's not. Users from various networks roam.. Provider A has users that roam on Provider B, and the same in reverse... I don't see what the big deal is.
The "big deal" was, in the past anyway, that the roaming provider (especially small ones) may do a batch run, say, once a month, to bill for roaming charges. Until your provider received the bill, they (nor the roaming provider, for that matter) had no idea that you ran up a big bill. All the roaming provider knew was that such-and-such number ran up so many minutes of service, and the bill (when generated) is to go to your provider. Your provider had no idea at all how much you had run up while roaming.

Now, I am sure that these off-line billing procedures are rare these days, but who knows.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
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Re: Real-time checks possible?

even if they all do realtime nowdays, you can bet they claim it takes a few business days to collect the data.
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Noah Vail
Son made my Avatar
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Lorton, VA
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Reviews:
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a A A A G G G H H H H ! ! !

THIS IS GOING TO BANKRUPT EVERY WIRELESS CARRIER ON EARTH. THIS IS PRO-CONSUMERISM RUN AMOK. IT MUST STOPPED IMMEDIATELY.

NO, I DON'T KNOW WHY I AM TYPING IN CAPS. MAYBE I THINK THIS IS A TELEGRAM AND SHOULD *STOP*

nv
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I call it the Crapture.

SSX4life
Hello World
Premium
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1 edit

2 recommendations

Re: a A A A G G G H H H H ! ! !

- .... .. ... .. ... --. --- .. -. --. - --- -... .- -. -.- .-. ..- .--. - . ...- . .-. -.-- .-- .. .-. . .-.. . ... ... -.-. .- .-. .-. .. . .-. --- -. . .- .-. - .... .-.-.- - .... .. ... .. ... .--. .-. --- -.-. --- -. ... ..- -- . .-. .. ... -- .-. ..- -. .- -- --- -.- .-.-.- .. - -- ..- ... - ... - --- .--. .--. . -.. .. -- -- . -.. .. .- - . .-.. -.-- .-.-.-

-. --- --..-- .. -.. --- -. - -.- -. --- .-- .-- .... -.-- .. .- -- - -.-- .--. .. -. --. .. -. -.-. .- .--. ... .-.-.- -- .- -.-- -... . .. - .... .. -. -.- - .... .. ... .. ... .- - . .-.. . --. .-. .- -- .- -. -.. ... .... --- ..- .-.. -.. ... - --- .--.

-. ...-

**edit**
in case you were wondering,that's the morris code of your telegraph.
=)
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••••
BlitzenZeus
Burnt Out Cynic
Premium
join:2000-01-13
kudos:3

Common sense from the EU?

Has hell frozen over? An actual bill to help protect the consumer from the greed of the carriers who bill the overage at a higher rate than the normal data plan?

What they've always needed to do is convert them into units, so if their bs limit is 10gb, and you charge $30 for 10gb, if they use 20gb charge them $60... If they use 15gb charge them $45.. However then they wouldn't need to charge $30 up front... just $3 per 1gb without charging them for data in the first place.

or... just actually provide two plans, unlimited data, and metered for the lower use users. At one point if the data charges exceed $60 they are unlimited for the rest of the month.
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Bill Neilson
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join:2009-07-08
Arlington, VA

1 edit

Something so simple, so useful, and so needed

will probably never see the light of day here.

Some will scream the government lifting a finger on something, anything will kill babies, murder puppies, and stop the earth from spinning

And to top it off, I doubt any carrier, big or small, will want something like this put in. Why take away from their revenue wherever it comes from legal, illegal, or legal yet morally pathetic? Even if it does involve not allowing them to screw the customer?

Fox McCloud
Crazy like a fox.

join:2006-07-23

I'll be the odd one out

And completely disagree with this legislation. Not a popular opinion here, for sure, and one that will, no doubt, be criticized. Heck, it'll probably get me labeled as some evil Capitalist or corporate whore...something to that effect....but in any case.

I disagree with this law on principle, mainly based on private property rights and contractual agreements.

never the less, I see the whole mess with telecom in a slightly different way that a lot of people. *shrugs*.

just my 2 cents.

•••••
munky99999
Munky

join:2004-04-10
canada

Carrier rage!

We all know that the carriers could have done this from the get go. They didnt because they WANT the insanely priced data plans that people are inevitably going to go over, unless they simply dont use the product.

So you have 2 kinds of customers.

Those who are paying you top dollar for no product in return.
Those who are paying bills which require you to be getting golden parachutes from the federal government; monthly.

Eliminating the later doesnt fix the underlying problem of outrageously price gouged data costs.

Regulating the data costs toward the actual cost plus very comfortable profit margin. This fixes the problem.

EU hasnt done this because they are being lobbied by the carriers so as not to ruin their cash cow.
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C0deZer0
Oc'D To Rhythm And Police
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Tempe, AZ

Watch out for token workarounds

I definitely appreciate the direction that the EU has taken here, and applaud them for the effort. However, I do worry that this will then become a bit like how Sony goes around trying to dodge VAT/fee impositions for the products they sell.

Case in point, their PlayStation. Anyone with a long enough memory will remember how Sony was trying to get the PS2 classified as a "computer system", and thus to avoid the added taxes and fees that the EU would have otherwise imposed on them for bringing it to that market. They went as far as releasing a "PS2Linux kit" (which like the GameCube component cable, you could only get online direct) to try and imply the point. But the kit was crap, and you hardly had the space to even install or run any meaningful programs, and they were sacked with paying the extra fees anyway. Thus why support for this kit dropped faster than the official PS2 HDD unit.

Even now with the PS3, the ONLY reason that they'd allowed people to install Linux on the system, was to try and dodge the extra cost they'd have to pay per unit. Not only was support never that good to begin with (they deliberately prevented anyone from making drivers for the RSX portion, and thus you only had half the possible RAM to use), but they'd since removed the functionality from the slim editions being released now.

Where I'm going with this, is that as great as the law sounds, the part I'm worried about is companies trying to pull a fast one in order to get around such a limitation in order to (re)screw the customer.
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JoeSchmoe007
Premium
join:2003-01-19
Brooklyn, NY

I already have this plan here in US

I switched to prepaid. I use very little minutes and bandwidth per month an it works great for me.