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I am an American living in Ireland and I still don't understand the major differences - American's still learning about the pay as you go option. Mobile carriers in the past have made it hard to use pre-pay when they can make more using monthly plans.


The major reason there aren't many prepaid providers in the US is that there is a patent on the core service. You can't offer prepaid without a license, and that ruins the business case.



I used to have prepaid 2G service when I was a student in the US, but I remember it was limited to certain models--usually the cheapest Motorola handset.

It is the same here in Japan though. There is a limited prepaid service offered by the KDDI au and Softbank, the smaller 3G providers, but it is available only for certain handsets (the ones with no features). Luckily the unlimited plans are getting cheaper due to competition.


Hi Jason,

Interesting, thanks for the comment. Looks like they are paying royalties since 2005/06 now: http://tinyurl.com/cadwoy

I wonder who has the patent for prepaid in other parts of the world and if/how much is paid there.



From what I know (engineer in a company that provides real-time charging software), we haven't encountered patent problems other than in the US.

Although, we aren't in Japan, we are in Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East and Australasia.

I think it just took off fast enough that everyone realised there was more money to be made by just building it instead of arguing over who invented it first.


Hi Jason,

thanks again for the comment! Would be interesting what the "undisclosed royalty fees" mentioned that US operators pay is in percentage or dollar wise per subscriber.


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