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Now that carrier frequencies are more standardized, like the "desktop" Internet it'd be better if we bought handsets from a free market, which would lead to more competition, better prices, and no contortions around "contracts."

But if you want to buy your own handset on the free market, you're paying nearly twice as much.

Carriers like Rogers embed a 'subsidy fee' for handsets (phones) which is a substantial part of every bill (about 20% of a smartphone bill), if you want to get your own handset you're paying nearly double. In the future a smartphone will be many people's only computer, so choice, competition, and free will from the carrier's decisions are all very important, yet today buying a handset is very different from buying a computer.

Do you think it'd be worthwhile to try to create a movement around subsidy-free pricing?

[edit] Interested?

Feel free to add your name and comments by clicking edit in this section (you'll have to answer a simple math captcha).

Engadget comments from around the world.

AI wrote:

i remember when i was in spain 10 years ago, you could buy a cell phone for $17 from a vending machine and then just buy a pay-as-you-go card as needed. we are so far behind compared to europe in terms of phone infrastructure.

JM wrote:

here in pakistan, i can get a SIM for $3. cheapest nokia is about $15. an ISDN BRI costs about $8/month.

as i recall, the prices were quite similar in kenya.

i recall being in canada last year, and heading to the mall to get a rogers SIM. they offered me a subsidized handset on contract, and i said no, i wanted an unlocked phone that i could take back to Dubai with me.

the guy looked shocked, and then whispered to me that they don't sell unlocked phones but he knew someone who did.

like i was trying to buy drugs or something. it was quite hilarious.

[edit] Why bother trying to get Rogers to adjust their policies?

Rogers opened their Redboard with the claim it will post every legitimate comment to let consumer's voices be heard. Yet many legitimate posts are ignored. The process to fair and unhindered Internet can be short-cut by putting pressure on companies such as Rogers to skip to the end point — fair lowest-possible pricing with consumer choice.

[edit] Posts on the topic

Post made to http://redboard.rogers.com/2010/redboard%E2%80%99s-faaq-frequently-asked-android-questions/ June 1, 2010 by DavidM:

I agree. Android 2.1 is running on the Dream handset, yet Rogers won't let us install our own version (as we would an operating system on our home computer). After less than a year, stuck in a two year upgrade term, we have an effectively obsolete handset (can't run the latest Google Maps and other apps) which was sold to us as an "open" Android device.

For the Magic, we're forced to use HTC's version which is encumbered with the battery sucking Sense which after a few moments of "gee whiz" makes it more incompatible with "Android."

Want to get your own handset on the free market? You'll pay TWICE as much because you're continuing to pay for subsidization.

I'm going to keep complaining and looking until a carrier offers me reliable cross-Canada wireless Internet at the lowest price, which is where this should be heading, not branded experiences and lack of choice.

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