I’d like to take a moment to register my dislike of my Galaxy Note 4, purchased a little over 18 months ago and already incapable of maintaining a charge for a full hour.
It also does not get data connectivity in the same places the phones of my husband and son do, although they also have Samsung phones from the Galaxy line, which are–naturally–utilizing the exact same network and plan mine does.
I loathe planned obsolescence.
Actually, I’d just like to register my distaste for the current dislike situation with cell phone companies and their plans and pricing structures altogether.
Back up a minute, and let’s examine how I got here, using this stupid fucking phone that randomly dies when it claims to have a 61% battery charge and can’t pick up a signal in the goddamn middle of town.
Back in 2003, as new parents/ newlyweds in our second apartment, we had a landline, cable tv, cable Internet, a netflix subscription, and a cell phone. At the time, we decided that on our limited single income of $10/hr, some of these were unnecessary luxuries. We cut out cable tv and the cell phone. Our in-laws–long-haul truckers–wanted to be able to stay in contact in case of emergencies, and provided us with a basic cell on their plan (Verizon).
Eventually we got our own cell through AT&T, and had both the cell and the landline. We stayed with them for a few years, then moved to a different company.
When we bought our house in 2005, we were very careful to make sure there was a cable modem hookup, but we were less careful to look for a landline phone hookup–as a result, we didn’t have a landline for about two years, and we just sort of got used to it. By the time we finally had a landline run to the house, the price of a landline was more than our cell plan, so we shrugged and said fuck it. Haven’t had a landline since.
Cell plans, however, have drastically increased in cost. I imagine they’re far more than a landline cost, at this point. Of course, a landline isn’t a mini-computer that fits in my pocket and allows me to play games, check my email, and surf the internet so … win some, lose some.
Now it’s over 15 years since I first started using a cell, and a decade since we switched 100% away from the landline. Our cell plan is a good contract that is no longer offered to new customers, which we grandfather into each upgrade by not changing our terms. The company is doing their damndest to force us to upgrade out of it because they want to phase it out. As far as I can tell it is one of the last plans available on the U.S market with uncapped data limits/ unlimited texts/ unlimited talk.
Once we’re finally forced off this contract, I don’t plan to sign another contract again, or even stay with the company, because honestly? I don’t think they’re worth the cost. All these companies promise “lightning fast data” or “high speed networks” or “coast to coast coverage,” and they’re all lying.
Just like how we haven’t invested in the necessary infrastructures or regulatory systems to provide quality public transport, high-speed rail, or maternity leave, the US has ended up just kind of lagging when it comes to high-speed cellular networks. Once again, corporations get to reap massive profits while providing substandard goods/ services to US consumers.
It doesn’t matter which company I’m with– high speed cellular service and reliable coverage is a myth in the US. It doesn’t exist. It’s a marketing ploy. It’s just something the companies say to sell their plans and phones, but in the end if you live in an urban area they’re all pretty much the same. So from where I’m standing, none of the companies are worth the cost. They’re all gouging the US consumers, and they’re doing it intentionally.
With the grandfathered everything data plan, we’re getting gouged incrementally less, but eventually that will change.
Were we to switch to a capped data plan (data caps are, by the way, total and complete bullshit in all forms), we’d still be getting fucked as consumers, just without lube. I don’t know that the monthly cell phones will be much better, but at least I won’t be trapped by contract terms intentionally written and upgraded in small-print legalese meant to obfuscate, baffle, and confuse.
This is especially horrendous considering the 2016 investigations which uncovered the child labor mining operations used to source the cobalt for the lithium batteries in smartphones and laptops made by Samsung, Apple, and Sony. Children as young as 7 years old are working 12 hour days mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for less than $2/ day, and the fucking devices aren’t even built to last?
That’s some sick shit right there. Like, everything about it is sick–CEO’s are throwing away lives to build throwaway devices, which they sell to an unwitting populace half a world away as cutting edge, all they can build and hoard more wealth. Like fucking Scrooge McDucks or some shit, utterly unconcerned with the losses of life and increasing environmental trauma which traces in a line of blood and pain directly to their door.
I’m disgusted by the entire mess of the US cell phone industry. What on earth is this hot mess? Is there no regulation? Are the children running the schoolhouse? It is utter irrationality … but I guess that’s what happens when, “…economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” (America is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy or a Republic)