Congratulations Americans, We Pay The Most For Cellphone Service

A new survey from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) compared annual costs around the world for consumers who have cellphones, and the U.S. is in the top three for most expensive. How expensive? DSLReports notes that “on average, the OECD found that Americans pay $635.85 on cell phone service, compared to $131.44 per year in the Netherlands or $137.94 per year in Sweden.”

The carriers disagree that we’re getting screwed, of course:

As you might expect, the wireless industry issued a press release proclaiming the study was based on “flawed assumptions” that “just don’t make sense.” If you look at the data the way carriers would like, you’re getting quite the bargain. The CTIA does have a point that the OECD’s usage categories seem low — particularly when it comes to MMS use. Another reason U.S. prices seem high? Carriers charge a hell of a lot of money for service. They also spend millions on lobbyists who tirelessly work to eliminate consumer protections and price controls.

Additionally, this dumb study isn’t taking into account the cutting-edge technology our carriers employ, which is so far ahead of other countries that it’s nearly lapped them and is now behind, or something like that. (I’m trying to think like a cellphone executive; it hurts.) As an example of what more than $600 a year buys you, just look at today’s column from PC Magazine’s editor in chief, Lance Ulanoff:

Back at home, some calls did get through, but all were so poorly connected-with frequent drop-outs-that I had to hang up and try again. I looked at my phone and noticed that 3G connectivity was hovering around a half of a bar. Every once in a while, the tiny bar would disappear. It was replaced by a bar and a half of Edge Network connectivity. I wasn’t even moving and the phone was busy dancing around, trying to get me a reasonably good connection. At one point, I even moved outside to try and get a better connection. This helped a tiny bit: I think I got one more bar. Still, the call connection and quality remained unreliable-at best. The other problem was that I wasn’t receiving calls. Everyone was getting bumped to voicemail. (I do give AT&T credit for delivering voicemail in a timely fashion. Sprint messages could take days to arrive.)

“Consumers In U.S., Canada Pay More For Wireless” [dslreports via Jesse Harris]
“Mobile phone calls lowest in Finland, Netherlands and Sweden, says OECD report” [OECD]
“Love My BlackBerry Bold, Hate AT&T 3G” [PC Magazine]
(Photos: thisisbossi, AMagill)