Cell users: Disconnect if economy keeps sinking?

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News Posted: Tue, Mar 17 2009 11:46 AM
The New Millennium Research Council has bad news and good news for the cell phone industry.

The bad: Millions of cell phone users in the United States may cut back or cancel their service altogether if the economy continues to tank (OK, they didn't phrase it so bluntly, they said, "if the economic downturn continues as expected").

The good: Prepaid phone service could reap the benefits, because, after all, people will still need some sort of cell phone, particularly if they're job-hunting. Maybe the Mississippi Legislature should look into prepaids - the state's House and Senate are fighting over the use of state-issued cell phones, which cost about $3 million annually.

The New Millennium Research Council hired the Opinion Research Corp. to conduct a scientific survey of 2,005 folks to see how the economy is affecting spending when it comes to cell phones. The council was created in 1999 and its mission is "to develop workable, real-world solutions to the issues and challenges confronting policy makers, primarily in the fields of telecommunications and technology."

They're hosting a phone-based news conference at 1:30 p.m. EDT Thursday to release the results of what they say is the first annual survey to "benchmark consumer attitudes about cell phone use as the economy rises and falls over time."

Though they're not releasing the survey until closer to the news conference, they gave a sneak peek today, saying that millions of consumers already have cut back on their cell phone spending - cutting out extras, scaling back plans, eliminating service altogether. And millions more are going to do so if the economy doesn't turn around soon, they say.

The think tank commissioned a survey in December that explored the topic of prepaid cell phones and why more people didn't use them. The survey is available in a PDF.
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digitaldd replied on Wed, Mar 18 2009 9:59 AM

Some prepaid service is more expensive for folks who use a fair amount of minutes. Some service costs $1 a day plus 20 cnets per minute. Not to even mention data service.

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ice91785 replied on Wed, Mar 18 2009 2:17 PM

TBH, i don't see this happening at all....I mean I see people all the time that drive rusty, broken down beater-cars -- they live in the slums and cannot afford their rent, yet these people somehow find the cold cash to carry around iPhones and such.

Because of this, I theorize that priorities in assets go:

1) Nice cell phone

2) Great TV

3) Ownership of a high-end gaming console

4) A car that works

5) A living environment with a room for the aforementioned tv and console -- not necessarily the highest-end living environment

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well I don't see people doing it by choice but if alot of people start defaulting on their cell phone bills and get cancelled that could possibly mean prices to go up for everyone else. either way it could be bad news. On the other hand maybe there won't be so many multitasking challenged people talking on their cell phone's and drivingBig Smile

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It really is time to wake up and smell the coffee, as they say. Contract phones used to be a good deal, not so any more! The big carriers have exploited customers for too long with restrictive and one-sided contracts, hidden fees on bills, bad customer service and price increases. It's great to see that some of the prepaid options out there are actually cheaper than the equivalent plan on contract. Makes you wonder why we are still required to sign multi-year contracts? Fancy phones? Well, you just see if the fancy phone helps you pay those exorbitant bills...

Meanwhile I will be using my prepaid phone at a much reduced rate for what it was intended to do in the first place - making calls. No hidden fees. No fuss.

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Asher replied on Thu, Mar 19 2009 9:02 AM

I agree with Roland, contract carriers are out there to rape their consumers for every penny and I don't feel like being exploited any more. I canceled my contract and bought a Net10 phone which has been great because they don't have any hidden charges, I don't pay for roaming or that little $1 per day fee that ends up as $30 per month that is completely unnessisary. Net10 has great coverage so I can make a call from anywhere to anywhere for only 10cents per minute and texts are only 5 cents. Who needs a contract when I can get such good rates without being tied to a two year contract.

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