During a discussion herehttp://www.pclinuxos.com/forum/index.php/topic,109345.msg947131.html#msg947131
where I went a bit off topic and the thread was subsequently locked by the OP, I was attempting to get a comparison of the services provided by mobile operators in different locales.
There are two main schemes provided here at present ......
a contract scheme which is a set monthly payment for a pre-determined time (usually 12 months) for which the customer is entitled to make calls to other mobiles and/or landlines up to a number of minutes on each, within the time period. The customer usually purchases a phone of their choice at a reduced rate. That phone used to be locked to that provider only.
What the exact status of the locking of phones is presently is, under such a contract, I am unsure, but unlocking of phones that are outside contracts must be facilitated.
the second main scheme is a 'pay as you go' system where the customer buys credit as and when needed to make calls or send texts. The credit can be topped up at any time by buying a slip at a local shop and dialling in with a pass number to add the amount to the credit. The cost of calls on such a scheme is a little higher than the contract scheme above. There is no subsidy for phone hardware with this scheme.
this year one provider introduced a new type of scheme ....... a monthly payment, without contract
. This scheme has become very popular. It has a single payment per month for all calls and texts made.
As there is no contract there is no necessity to make a payment. On joining a free SIM is issued if required.
If you do not make a payment for the calendar month then you are unable to make calls or send texts during that month. You can of course make a payment for the following month which again allows calls and texts for that month.
It is presented as a sort of club which costs €10 per month to join, and you get free calls and texts for the month in which you are a member.http://www.48months.ie/free-sim
In all three schemes above, receiving calls/texts/etc puts no cost on the receiver.
In the latter two schemes, even though the customer might have no credit for making calls, they can still receive calls and texts on their number.
I am sure there must be a time limit on the facility of receiving calls/texts without any payment ..... either 'top up' of the payg or monthly membership. This from experience has been at least six months, but could be longer. I never investigated.
From my understanding of mobile phone schemes in the USA, it appears that receiving calls/texts on a mobile phone costs the receiver as well as the originator.
Another aspect of mobile phone schemes which interested me were the situation around locked phones and when and how they can be unlocked from a provider and enable them to be used with any provider. Are phones purchased through a provider, under contract, allowed to be unlocked when the contract ends?
Then there are the schemes themselves ...... are they similar in structure and contract?
Are there better schemes in place in the USA than here?
How do they work?
Is it common for people to use phones capable of using two SIM cards at the one time?
These are available here but are not VERY common in daily use, except for those who have specific needs ..... maybe a business SIM and a personal SIM in the one phone; or maybe two SIMs from different providers to provide the best rates for specific types of calls. Mostly I believe it is in business that such phones are most used.
It would be interesting to compare what might be available in other locations to the above schemes.