America fact of the day

…people in the United States now make more [phone] calls to India than to Western Europe…

Part of the background is this:

Traffic between the United States and Europe, both of which have high broadband availability, has shifted to substitutable services over the Internet (e.g. VoIP). India still has a low broadband penetration, meaning people in the United States call mobile telephones.

There is more here, via @internetthought.


Yes, well, we need a lot more tech support than we used to.

Heh, but those aren't voice calls to India.

'Traffic between the United States and Europe, both of which have high broadband availability, has shifted to substitutable services over the Internet'

Actually, in Europe, any Wifi/WLAN/etc equipped smart phone/tablet will use local access to the net first (at least if the smart phone owner is vaguely technically skilled) - apparently, this is not the case in the U.S., due to the bizarre concept of 'tethering' used by America providers.

What are you going on about? I have me a British smart phone, and the Wifi connectivity, etc., is no different than in America. It runs on the same Android software and acts the same way.

Rules about tethering exist here, too. There is nothing "bizarre" about service providers preventing (or charging more for) the ability to hook up a full-blown PC that uses a lot more bandwidth.

'Tethering' refers to turning the phone into a mini wifi hotspot to be used by tablets or computers. That capability is sometimes an extra charge in the U.S. (though less and less so over time). But the capability of the phone to switch from cellular data to local wifi is never referred to as 'tethering' and is never an extra-cost add-on -- all smart phones in the U.S. can do that.

Here is an overview (places like The Register tend to remain as baffled as I over the years when it comes to how American telecommunication companies work, including the profound lack of competition), and as noted, judges are apparently finding American cell phone provider practices out of line -

'As cited in Sprint Nextel's "Terms of Service":

Except with Phone-as-Modem plans, you may not use a phone (including a Bluetooth phone) as a modem in connection with a computer, PDA, or similar device. We reserve the right to deny or terminate service without notice for any misuse or any use that adversely affects network performance.[9]

T-Mobile USA has a similar clause in its "Terms & Conditions":

Unless explicitly permitted by your Data Plan, other uses, including for example, using your Device as a modem or tethering your Device to a personal computer or other hardware, are not permitted.[10]

T-Mobile's Simple Family or Simple Business plans offer "Hotspot" from devices that offer that function (such as Apple iPhone) to up to 5 devices. Since 2014-03-27, 1000 GB/month is free in the USA with cellular service. The host device has unlimited slow internet for the rest of the month, and all month while roaming in 100 countries, but with no tethering. For $10 or $20/month more per host device, the amount of data available for tethering can be increased markedly. The host device cellular services can be canceled, added, or changed at any time, pro-rated, data tethering levels can be changed month-to-month, and T-Mobile no longer requires any long-term service contracts, allowing users to bring their own devices or buy devices from them, independent of whether they continue service with them.

As of 2013[update] Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility offer wired tethering to their plans for a fee, while Sprint Nextel offers a Wi-Fi connected "mobile hotspot" tethering feature at an added charge. However, actions by the FCC and a small claims court in California may make it easier for consumers to tether. On July 31, 2012, the FCC released an unofficial announcement of Commission action, decreeing Verizon Wireless must pay US$1.25 million to resolve the investigation regarding compliance of the C Block Spectrum (see US Wireless Spectrum Auction of 2008).[11] The announcement also stated that "(Verizon) recently revised its service offerings such that consumers on usage-based pricing plans may tether, using any application, without paying an additional fee."'

That's all beside the point. You persist in misunderstanding 'tethering'. A phone using local wifi for data instead of the cellular network is NOT tethering and is NOT restricted. 'Tethering' refers only to using the phone's Wifi capabilities to turn it into a mini wifi hotspot to supply data to other devices. That is what is restricted in some contracts.

BTW, the U.S. cell phone market has become increasingly competitive in the last couple of years. The 'subsidized phone with 2-year-contract' model is breaking down and no-contract prices have fallen significantly. I'm currently on a all-you-can-eat voice+text with a generous data allowance (and no extra charge for wifi tethering) with AT&T at $40 month per phone -- not much more than half of what the same deal would have cost a few years ago.

While true, PA, it has nothing to do with this post. Only your misunderstanding of what is being talked about.

My phone, in the US, switches to wifi, if available.

@Slocum, @prior_approval-- yes, I'm aware of tethering. This is also sometimes an extra charge in Europe. I have no idea what the U.S. vs. Europe point is with this.

As others have said, making calls over the Internet (instead of using the cellular network) is not the same as "tethering".

When I was in Boston a few years ago, T-Mobile offered the "wifi calling" option for free. (I think it's technically called UMA -- Universal Mobile Access -- although T-Mobile called it something different.) I found it to be extremely unreliable, though -- calls would drop or get garbled a lot. Still, when I was buried in a lab and got no cell reception, it was nice to still be able to use my phone via the building's wifi.

Somewhat bizarre stats. A large share of what they consider to be traditional phone calls are handled through VoIP anyhow.

Anybody who has ever seen a Vonage commercial already knew this.

I can understand my fellow Indians making lots of calls to the US, to find out how they can land some job or college admission there. Why on earth would people in the US make more calls to India than to Western Europe?

One reason may be that I'm pretty sure that in the U.S. there are a many more first-generation immigrants (and temporary H1B visa holders) from India than from Europe -- those are the people making calls back home. Like most white Americans, my European ancestors came to the U.S. in the 19th century and earlier, and there are no longer any family connections with the old countries.

I have both Indian and European relatives and the Indian ones keep in much more frequent contact.

Likewise, if you have relations in the us calling you, you're probably in the top 5% of Indian society and have access to broadband. I'd suspect computer to computer calls is still higher than to Europe, but not measured.

The connection costs to landlines in India is still higher than to cell numbers?

Tech support and help desk lines?

Other than carry-out, who bothers to make a phone call?

Sometimes I call people to ask if they have read my email yet.

I've spoken to a lot of people in India over the phone; I've never called anyone in India.

Thank goodness--much less translation effort for NSA.

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